Saturday, September 03, 2011

Santiago to Melide

Santiago de Compostela (SdC) - August 30/31, 2011

The cloister at Hostel Hospedería San Martín Pinario, SdC which is an old monastrey. Kees y Vicente recommended that I spend my two nights in SdC at this hostel, I did, and now I recommend it to you.  Hostel San Martín
Many pilgrims come to this point when they arrive in Praza do Obradorio at the finish of their pilgrimage.
Standing beside the shell (above photo). I am ready for the retorno journey tomorrow morning.

I arrived at SdC airport in late afternoon of August 30, 2011. It was raining and it did not stop raining until I reached the limits of the city on September 1st.  I want to say that it always rains in SdC but that is not so.  However, it rains frequently. The Galician mountains are the first range inland from the Atlantic Ocean stopping the rain clouds.

I was able to obtain a new Credencial from the Pilgrim Office.  I am officially a retorno pilgrim. That settled, I went about getting gifts for Charlotte, Sophie, and the family to add to the gifts I had from Madrid for them.  I wanted to mail the packages before leaving tomorrow as I do not want that added weight in my backpack.

From Rolf´s Bar in Santiago I spoke with Rolf from Duisburg, Germany (Camino 2007).  If you know of my friendship with Rolf then you know that I dedicated my 1,000 kms Via de la Plata (2009) camino to him.  Unbeknown to me, as I walked the VdlP he drove from Germany to greet me when I walked into Praza do Obradorio.  The day before Santiago I looked up to see Rolf walking toward me outside of Pedrouza.  Rolf had arrived in Galicia and could not wait another day, this was a special moment for us both.  Maybe now you can understand why when he asked, "Luiza, do you have days at the end, can you come to Duisburg?", I immediately replied, yes.  So instead of going to Paris and Chartres I will fly to Duisburg and visit Rolf and Christine.  For me, this is wonderful.  BTW, Kees y Vicente tell me that Chartres Cathedral is under scaffolding until 2014.  They are in the process of taking down the windows for cleaning and as you might know the windows are one of the many things that Chartres is famous for .... the windows are so magnificent that they have named a color after them, Chartres Blue.

SdC to Pedrouza - September 1, 2011
The walk to Pedrouza was delightful after the rain stopped.  The moist ground through the forest was a little muddy and the eucalyptus fragrance brought memories from childhood.  To see the smiles on the faces of pilgrims coming toward me made the walk all the more special.  Of course, being helpful, many tried to tell me that I was going the wrong way.  I would point forward and say "no, y vuelta, SJPP" but after awhile that became tiring so I changed to Roncesvalles (which the Spanish understand better).

This day was only 17 kms, a nice easy walk as I was soon to find out.  There are many pilgrims on the way, groups and solo, many without backpacks.  It is busy, busy, busy on Camino Francés. There are so many pilgrims coming towards me. Walking the retorno gives me a different view of the number of people on the way and how each pilgrims pace differs.

Sign near the airport runway.
The camino goes alongside the SdC airport and it is quite noisy when an airplane takes off. I heard an aircraft revving up for take-off in 2002 but nothing in later years.
 Nearly there, just 1 km to walk to where I am stopping for today.
The eucalyptus forests are beautiful but they will slowly be taken down and hopefully replaced with native trees.  Australian Eucalyptus were planted around the globe 100+ years ago and now the Spanish government realizes they are a fire hazard.  I have been told the farmers are paid for each eucalyptus they fell.  Still, I enjoyed walking through this little reminder of Australia.

Pedrouza-Arzuá - September 2, 2011

When in the forest there is shade, it is delightful walking here.
Guillermo Watt, Pilgrim, died one day from SdC. Pilgrims leave tokens in remembrance of him when they pass by.

It is a lovely sunny day but that means hot when walking under a cloudless sky. I am wearing two pair of socks and my hat for the first time on the camino. Why? Because my boots are hard (even with gel insoles) and I have some hot spots (future blisters). Walking east the sun is directly at my face in the morning.

I was lost this morning although I did not know it, as often happens, a lady from a farmhouse showed me the way. Later, I desperately wanted to pee and enjoy a café con leche but had not found a Bar.  I stopped at a path intersection and when looking around I saw a sign almost hidden by blackberries, BAR 50m. I cleared the blackberries from the sign (for other pilgrims) and went to the Bar.  Ah, I felt better! The N-547 is constantly near and with cars and trucks zooming by it is noisy. I do not remember being so aware of the N-547 on other camino walks.

In Calle I stopped for lunch at Bar Dolores. It was near here in 2007 that our group came across the owner on the ground moaning in pain. Wolf and I went ahead and found a Spanish man to call an ambulance while Maureen and Martin stayed behind. M&M checked his pockets and found a card, he was a diabetic. M&M always had food in their packs so they gave him juice and sweets.  I mentioned this to him today, he was all smiles, shaking my hand while kissing my cheek he said ... thank you, by the grace of God you came along. I said, me and five others.

Lesson learned? 112 is the emergency number in Spain. The folks at 112 will understand English. Always carry sweets, juice or both on the camino.
There was a large group on horseback today, maybe ten or twelve riders.  They were in a Bar having lunch while their horses were resting in the shade.
I also passed three pilgrims with a donkey. Two were walking happily alongside it without backpacks. I do not envy them as caring for a donkey is a lot of work, read travels with my donkey: One Man and His Ass on a Pilgrimage to Santiago (Tim Moore).

There were many happy pilgrims with the usual question, ¿y vuelta?, ¿retorno? or ¿otro vez?, now I simply smile and respond with Sí, retorno. The pilgrims are happy because their goal (SdC) is close.

I am exhausted! I started at 08:30 today and with many stops, including the long lunch in Calle, I did not arrive until 18:00. My feet are sore and I am hot and sweaty. The two sock experiment did not work for me and I have two blisters - the dreaded beasts of the camino. The last 5 kms killed me.
Arzuá, I am getting close but still maybe 2 kms to go from here.

I did not remember the walk from Pedrouza to Arzuá as being so tough in other years. Then it hit me, mochilla taxi (backpack taxi).  On previous camino walks I have used a mochilla taxi for this stretch.  Because it is early days, my pack feels heavy by late afternoon even though it is 1.5 kilos lighter than other years. It seemed like today was uphill all the way. About 2 kms from Arzuá I missed the path and a man came out of his home to tell me that I was going the wrong way. Pointing back he was telling me SdC was the other way. He wanted me to get off the road and go downhill to the Camino Historico (which I had missed) but knew I would come near it soon. It was a standoff, he stood at his gate until I turned off to go down to the camino. I stopped for five minutes saw that he was no longer there and continued on the path at the side of the road.

Arzuá-Melide - September 3, 2011
With a heavy backpack and three blisters later I decided on a taxi to Melide. I needed to buy supplies for the blisters and rest my feet. This could mean a better walk tomorrow to Palais de Rei. I have walked the last couple of camino's without blisters so I was not fully prepared for this today. I had a needle and thread but not enough plasters or tape. I am so disappointed and annoyed with myself for not replacing my Timberland boots with Timberland boots, what was I thinking?

In Melide I went immediately to the Farmacia (Pharmacy) and bought more plasters, tape, and foot creme. My Ureadin Rx 20 was almost finished so I bought Dr. Scholls Hirschtalg foot creme, now hopefully I can fight those blisters! I will not try the two sock thing again as it did not work for me, it works for so many pilgrims but not for me.

I met a wonderful Irish girl who told me that from SJPP she has had 25 blisters.  She said, "I had so many I started to name them". What a good idea, I am naming my blisters after pilgrim friends because they understand "No Pain, No Gain". She was walking with three others and all were excited that they only had three walking days to SdC.

Having this day off allowed me to find time to use the Internet.  I checked email, facebook and Blog. The Internet is not always available along the way. Some days I am too tired to compute and at other times I simply do not want the Internet to intrude on my day.

Ester Vaikma
It is with sadness that I mention the matriach of one side of our Estonian family.  Ester, the sister of Garry´s father, was always happy when we saw her.  She was a bubbly loveable person who had a pretty tough hand dealt her in Soviet times.  Yet she came through with a smile for the family.  God Bless you Ester, you will be missed.  To the family I extend my sincere sympathy.


  1. Hola, Luiza! Good to hear you're on the way... Buen camino!

  2. Gracias Andree. A couple of days with blisters then all will be well.

  3. Anonymous10:18 AM CDT

    Sorry to hear the loss of Ester. Condolences sent.

    Raining here, and much needed. However, system not far enough west to help Texas. This is so unfortunate.

    Happy walking in reverse!