16 July 2008

Portomarin to Melide

Day 20
6:30 am - 3:00 pm
39.6 km

Ten hours of sleep works wonders, doesn't it? I woke early and arrived at my destination nice and early. Quite a few people in Portomarin left even earlier than I did: like, around 5 am! It was still dark! What were these insane people thinking? Most of them, I assume, were new pilgrims. Since you only have to walk the last hundred kilometers to get the official "compostella" at the end, which certifies your completion of the Camino de Santiago (and assures your entrance to Paradise, I assume), many pilgrims (too many, in my opinion) just do that bit. I even heard that Spanish people get some kind of special dispensation from the government if they do it, or a salary rise or something. So the trail's getting busier as are the albergues. In a few weeks, it could be hard to find a bed. Luckily, I will be done tomorrow afternoon or, more likely, the following morning. The early risers must think they're going to beat the heat. I left at 6:30, couldn't see a thing for the first hour, and it was still quite hot by midmorning. But today, I was on fire. I could tell right away (see yesterday) it was going to be a good day, because when I put on my pack, it felt like I was wearing nothing. Isn't that funny how one day it feels heavy and the next day it doesn't? I took advantage of my good feeling by blitzing past everyone who left with the moon and doing 12 km before 8:30 am, at which point--the highest point before the camino descends to Santiago--I had my morning cafe con leche. Ahhh... From there, the trail is mostly asphalt (love it) and mostly shaded (love it more) until it gets to Melide. I was going to go on past Melide to ensure I arrive in Santiago tomorrow, but then I sat down in one of this city's famous "pulperias" or, and you might have to be me to get excited by this,


I recall, when I was a child, my father used to bring me to the gourmet food section of the local supermarket and point out the canned octopus, which I then thought so disgusting. Now, the jaws of life couldn't pry me away from


For only €8, I got a large basket of bread and a larger platter of octopus chunks, sauteed in olive oil and sprinkled with some kind of red pepper powder (pulveria?). I learned from the octopus that I'm doing the camino, presumably, to enjoy it--like I enjoyed eating at the pulperia. So intead of forcing another 14 km out of my tired feet and strained shoulders, I put down my backpack in Melide for the night and even met a Japanese woman for a small practice-my-Japanese bonus. Tomorrow, I will probably do another short walk and arrive at Santiago in the late morning on Friday. I have to get two stamps a day in my pilgrim passport now, in order to prove I've walked the last hundred kilometers (and not, for instance, ridden a donkey), stipulated as necessary by, I don't know, the Pope or Jesus or someone. Now, it's time for my cerveza con limòn. I forced myself to wait until the evening, so I wouldn't fall asleep before updating you, my dear readers, on my timely progress. This time, I'm going to have a "grande".

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