We're not out of the woods yet
Bad start this morning. We set out before dawn, into a bitterly cold wind, without benefit of Jean-Marc's kindly light. In the open we could just manage to see, but in the woods there was no light at all. We squished over squashed chestnuts, stumbled into fallen rocks, and somehow missed a sign, for we ended up at a T junction with no arrow in either direction. Resorting to the GPS on my phone, we followed directions to get to to Melide, and soon joined the Camino again.
By now it was light, and I walked across moors, along minor roads and tracks, hoping all the time to find a place open for breakfast. But it was a long, cold ten-mile walk before I found a bar open in Melide, the end of the Primitivo, for it was here that it joined the Camino Frances.
And what a different Camino it is, with vendors selling Camino trinkets, getting the jump on merchants in Santiago. People beckoned me, offering to stamp my credential, but there was bound to be a cost to it. One fellow offered a donkey stamp, but you had to pay for it to help him and his donkey get to Santiago. This was the commercial Camino.
Who were they, these unfamiliar pilgrims? They seemed a race apart. I looked down on them as highlanders looked down on lowlanders. We were Primitivos, Preben the Dane, Jean-Marc and Louis the Frenchmen, Virginie the Quebequoise, Paul from Sydney, Mary with the lovely Irish lilt, Earl from Seattle, and I. But now there were all these people we hadn't seen before, Francesians, not in throngs, but numerous enough that it was difficult to find space along the path for a private pee. On the Primitivo you could pee all day and never be disturbed.
On the Camino Frances
If you stop for a wiz,
You're bound to be caught in mid-stream.
On the Primitivo,
If you happen to go,
You can stand all day long in a dream.
At Ribadiso, arriving at a little bridge, I looked across the water and realized that I'd been here before. It was a lovely albergue on the bank of a river where I had stayed in 2003. It had expanded somewhat, and now included a bar and restaurant. I had one of the biggest (500 cc) and certainly the coldest beer I have ever had in my life. It was Estrella Galicia, of course, poured from the tap into a glass retrieved from a freezer. Frost formed on the outside of the glass, and ice on top of the beer. Memorable!
Tonight, there are four of us in a huge dorm in one of the many albergues in Arzua. Tomorrow is the last day: 40 kms to Santiago.