I enjoyed my stay in the Albergue in Ferreira. It was a rustic place with a friendly owner who served a communal dinner of seafood paella. I sat with Julian and an English lad named Edmund who had just started his walk at Lugo the previous day. He is a Cambridge educated scientist who is now working on developing new vaccines for HIV and Ebola at The Jenner Institute in Oxford. He’s another addict as this is his 5th different Camino.
The walking was easy , mainly along paths through Eucalyptus groves , passing through small Galiican villages with their stone houses and slate roofs. There are a few abandoned houses in each village as emigration is high in these parts but I noticed some renovation projects on the go today. There is no doubt that the Camino is helping to revive some of these villages as people open new albergues and cafes/bars to serve the ever increasing number of pilgrims.
The Camino Primitivo joins with the Camino Frances at a town named Melide and this was at about 20km on my walk on Day 11. A German lady I talked to at breakfast said it would be like ” joining the Autobahn ” and she was right. Suddenly we were accompanied by a steady stream of Pilgrims , many of whom had started at Sarria, a distance 100km from Santiago , thus allowing them to receive the Compostela. Four young Korean girls overtook me and I noticed that each of them was carrying a musical instrument strapped to their rucksack. Someone told me they had been putting on performances each evening in the places they have stopped. Melide is known as the town where Octopus is the gastronomic speciality so I stopped for a lunch of Pulpo Gallega at Pulperia Ezequiel , a place which is famous for serving it.
I walked as far as Boente and called it a day. The Hospitalero showed me the dorm and I was amused to see a sign saying ” be kind to older people and give them a lower bunk ” . There were no lower bunks available and no one offered so I hauled myself up to the top bunk. So I spent the night on top of an ” older ” lady from County Kildare. I hope I didn’t snore ……
I put in a big day’s walk of 34.6km on Day 12 as I wanted to leave a short morning walk into Santiago on Day 13 with the intention of attending the Midday Pilgrim’s Mass when the Botafumeiro is usually swung , a sight not to be missed. I felt good and definitely had that mildly euphoric feeling that you get after so many days of walking and being out all day in the countryside. After a bright start it became drizzly with low cloud , the first rain of my trip , so I put the head down and pushed on. I reached the small village of Lavacolla late afternoon , just 12km from Santiago. My guide book tells me that the Pilgrims paused here to clean themselves in the river before arrival in Santiago. The translation of the name ” Lavacolla ” is ” wash scrotum ” , indicating a particular concern for Pilgrims in medieval times. I normally like to perform the Camino rituals but on this occasion I excused myself , crossed the river without a second glance and booked myself into a small hotel. I then had a good soak in a hot bath : )
Almost there .