Oct. 10: Palas de Rei- 16 miles, seven hours
It always surprises me when a pilgrim walks by me smoking, but in Europe cigarettes are part of the culture. It’s very common to see generations of the same family all smoking together at the local cafe.
As we travel through woods and farmlands, I sense that the inclines and descents are steeper than yesterday. We’re traveling through dairy country and corn cribs are everywhere. They look like little houses on stilts and are used to dry and store the corn used to feed the animals. To make the time go by, we play a game, calling out the oldest (one said 1856 on it), newest, most decorated and most likely to fall apart if blown on. I tell Mr. Wiz* that I’d like one for my birthday. I hope he knows I’m kidding.
Pensíon Palas is a bit outside of the city and we’re glad to finally arrive. It’s nothing special; plain, but clean. We head into town and see our Canadian friend, who asks us to join her for a glass of wine. We enjoy hearing about her adventurous life, starting with boarding school in Belgium, then living abroad in different cities. She excuses herself in order to enjoy her bathtub (most rooms only come with a shower) and we head to dinner.
Oct. 11: Arzúa- 16 miles, seven hours
The forecast says rain and we trudge up and down through farmland all day long. Just as we’re heading for the steepest part of our trek, we meet a pilgrim from Lake George, New York. We pass the time with my stories of the many happy childhood vacations there. The Caldo Gallego we find for lunch is good and hot and it hits the spot. It’s my favorite soup, made with onions, white beans, potatoes, kale and/or cabbage.
Just as we see the sign for the turn-off to Casa Garea, the rain turns to drizzle. As we head into the eucalyptus forest, the wonderful scent and the singing birds help us to forget for the moment that we feel like two wet rags.
The buildings are old, but the beamed ceilings, stone and starched white linen curtains give it a homey feel. After settling in, we enjoy a glass of wine in the common area. Our Lake George friend greets us with a big smile and announces that this is the first time on the Camino that she will have a private room. We tease her that she will not be able to return to the albergue bunk beds. When we notice a single place setting at one of the dining room tables, we invite her to join us for dinner and a good time is had by all.
Oct. 12: O Pedrouzo- 15 miles, seven hours
It’s drizzling, but we head back through the eucalyptus forest to return to the Camino route with a spring in our step, thinking of the bacon and egg breakfast we plan to treat ourselves to.
The rain is playing a game with us all day; every time we decide we’re too hot and take off our raincoats, it starts to drizzle again. In the end, we decide that the cool mist feels better.
We’re walking right through farms all afternoon, so much so that at one point a farmer asks us all to stop, so his cows can cross the road to his other pasture. The drizzle turns to a pouring rain and the cows are the only ones that seem content.
Pension LO is only a couple of years old. It’s all white decor and contemporary feel are a welcome change. I like the quote that decorates the wall above our bed in script: “The best things in life are the people we love, the places we’ve been and the memories we’ve made along… the Way.”
Only breakfast is served in their dining room and we are not looking forward to having to head to town for dinner in the driving rain. The woman at reception asks us if we’d like to order pizza from a local takeout place, the two couples eating in the dining room give us a thumbs-up on the food they are enjoying and we are so happy that we don’t need to venture out. We enjoy a cozy evening, dining and chatting with the couples from California and Washington state.
*Who’s who? See “Cast of Characters” on the “About” page.