Palas de Rei to Melide: Rain and The Miracles of the Walking Poles.

The weather forecasts had rain for the day so we all broke out rain gear. shipping the bags ahead to Arzua meant that some of us were the last ones to check out of the albergue. As it would happen, Jon had placed his trek poles by the bar and when we  went to leave they were missing. Everyone looked high and low. I remember seeing them by the bar by themselves so I knew that they had not been moved unless Jon had moved them; no, they had been taken. Jon was furious and the albergue staff offered him a pair of mismatched poles that had been left behind as a kind gesture but he declined. I insisted on giving him one of mine and with that we set out, with the resolve to pick up another pair in Arzua. So off we went, out of town.

L-R: Alida, Sharon, Eleanor, Mary Jane, Jon and Luba on the end. Unfortunately this is the only picture that I have of Luba.

Soon the rain started but it was an on and off again affair, mostly just light showers but enough to make it slippery. Once again up and down steep hills, stepping on and over wet rocks and boulders making it slow going in spots. Our little band broke up again based on who could walk at what speed. After several km we arrived at a small bar and stopped for coffee and breakfast which usually consisted of a pastry or two. This one proved to have some delicious ones, all home made-and a surprise, a miracle of sorts. At some point someone remarked that a pair of poles by the bar looked suspiciously a lot like Jon’s and upon inspection they indeed turned out to be his! He had put the letters “JON” in ink on each of the cork handle grips and though faded the letters were clearly visible. As there was no one around other than us to claim the poles, thus began the speculation as to their means of transportation to the bar.

The Miracle of the Poles is consummated!

As Jon and I set out together he fumed about his poles being taken by a person unknown, deliberate or not. I finally offered up that since this was the camino that a miracle had taken place and that Jon was meant to be reunited with his poles in that very bar! Yes, the camino had spoken and we were to be believers. Later it turned out that a man had returned to the bar while some of the group had lingered on. He spoke very rapidly in Spanish and was clearly agitated that “his” poles were no longer there. Oh well… the camino givith…

A while after leaving the bar the on again off again drizzle subsided and soon we were walking without the rain gear. We soon came across the church with a round horreo, looking very much like an over-sized birdcage or a house for a troll, depending on your imagination.

Bird cage? Home for a troll?

We had seen these structures along the way, always rectangular and always perched up on pillars with no indication of purpose. With air holes visible we mildly speculated that they were pigeon coops, but that didn’t seem to fit. Later it became clear when I saw one open and noticed that the inside was neatly stacked with corn. Of course, now the pillar construction with their jutting flat tops upon which the horreo was clear: They were designed to keep out rodents. Off again into the rolling hills, soon we came to an  old stone bridge which took us over the river Fuelos and ultimately into Melide. Jon and I passed a tiny old woman on the bridge who pointed out the very old stone buildings on the path that we had just come from. She began to tell us all about them in Spanish but as we nodded and smiled, she realized that we did not understand. Then she just smiled back and wished us a “buon camino”. Such a friendly and open lot of people.

Jon on the bridge over the river Fuelos

Soon we were on the outskirts of Melide where Jon and I ran into Jim at a bar. Jon decided to go and find an ATM, and after a soda I left to follow him. As it turned out the rain kicked in and after a bit of wandering, we found our way to the  albergue. Later Alida, Luba, Geoff, Jon and I set out for something to eat. Jon wanted to eat at a place close by but I had seen pizza shops along the way and I had a taste for one, so reluctantly the troupe traipsed behind me as went looking. No sooner than we had started the rain began to pour again and ultimately we settled on a place called Cafeteria Chaplain on the main road through town. I was to regret that decision as a couple of us had the spaghetti alla carbonara. Remember what I said earlier about the Spanish and Italian food? Yeah, that bad. No resemblance except that it was white and had pasta. The late lunch plus the constant rain prompted us to hit a supermarket on our way back and stock up on cheese, meats, bread and wine for later, which everyone enjoyed. That night Sharon, whose knee had bothering her the day before was again in pain. I offered some of my methemizole to help her out and Eleanor suggest a knee brace might help. That knee was to continue to bother her and with the rough trails and ultimately force her to take a bus between a couple of albergues.


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