I met him today, I was crossing the Strand,
And he stopped the whole street with a wave of his hand.
Two days ago, I trudged. Yesterday, I strode. Today, I plodded. It was a long, long day, through fairly flat country with little opportunity for a refreshments. Now that we were down from the mountains, I expected that villages and towns would be more common. But no, hamlet after hamlet with no bar.
As we walked through the old town this morning, the street cleaners were out, big machines, but also men and women working on nooks and crannies.
You'd better work hard at school, boy, or you'll end up sweeping the streets.
I remember them vaguely, men with brooms. And tall policemen with long arms and leather-gloved fists, standing on pedestals, directing the traffic at intersections. And somehow I avoided the threatened fate.
As I've mentioned before, there are many people working on the streets in Spain, sometimes doing jobs that don't need doing, like weeding roads. But it's providing jobs in a country with high unemployment.
After ten kilometres, I stopped at a little bar 50 metres off the road. The patron added grappa to my coffee. "It'll help you get to Santiago," he said.
But after that it was on and on through little stone Galician villages, or hamlets really. No bar, no refreshments, but I was always hopeful.
Finally, I hit a road, and popped into a bar at San Roman de Retorta, for a beer and a delicious sandwich, big enough to feed an army.
Then I followed a Roman road, and at Ferreira,crossed the little Roman bridge pictured above.
I passed an old lady hissing at a ewe and a few lambs. What was she doing? If she was trying to wean the lambs she was out of luck. Bunting away, they just weren't having it.
Now, there seemed to be more and more sheep, and a little further on I came to a field just dotted wth the creatures. Nice photo, I thought. But by the side of the road, quite still, was a white furry mass. Oh, no, a dead sheep, I thought. No it was a white lab, and he was still, but alert. He was watching over those sheep. I don't think he wanted me to take a photo, and I respected that. He was not a sheepdog, but their guardian. He was looking after then.
It's a hard life for the women. I pass them them all the time, hoeing in the fields, driving tractors, herding cows along the road, or gathering chestnuts in an old shopping bag, the elderly among them wearing old woollen coats over old woollen frocks.
We are staying tonight at the public albergue at As Seixas. It's a very nice place, quite modern really, but the hospitalier is quite a harridan. Four foot six with a loud, strident voice, she screeches if we make a wrong move, such as crossing over an invisible line with our poles or boots, or committing the unforgivable sin of putting our packs on a bunk. But she's helpful as well, with the washer and dryer, showing us how they work, and even, for the first time ever, helping us put the disposable sheets on the bed. "Hold that corner," she yelled at me in Spanish. It's her albergue, and she runs a tight ship.