Monday, 4 January 2010

All creatures great and cured

Here is the news: Esteban who has been suffering from a bad cold for most of this trip is cured. Yesterday we arrived in Portomarin having walked 23 kms and despite our hostal having faulty heating the first clue was that the deep of the night was not broken with the sound of the wracking coughing of the last week. Perhaps the cure had been effected by the excellent dinner we enjoyed in the O Mirador restaurant and albergue in front of a roaring log fire. The huge glass windows give panoramic views of the river and we watched the daylight fade whilst enjoying a dinner of a gigantic tureen of boiling soup followed by steak and chips and finished with vanilla and chocolate ice cream. All washed down with a bottle of Tinto which we mixed with Casera. The price for this Menu del Peregrino was a princely 9 euros.

We awoke to a very dreich day. "Dreich" is a wonderful old Scottish word which the dictionary defines as an adjective describing weather which is cold, misty, drizzly, overcast and miserable. That was the weather today in spades. The river could no longer been seen through the shroud which had settled. As we set off we nodded to the small group of pilgrims standing at the taxi rank and then never saw another rucksack for the whole 25 kms to Palas de Rei.

As we climbed out of Portomarin the Big Man started talking. A lot. This was him back to normal. "You know this part of the route would be beautiful if we could see anything" he remarked as we walked through the mist. A few minutes later as the path levelled out he and his rucksack leapt into the air and he kicked his heels. This was quite a frightening sight from someone who at 6'4 is 9 inches taller than me. What then followed was a rendition of the song Vamos Caminando quickly followed by a hastily composed "Where have all the pilgrims gone, long time passing...taken taxis every one...when will they ever walk...when will they ever walk." "I take it you are feeling better?" I enquired, "certainly!" He replied, "and very soon I am going to eat this KitKat which I have been carrying since the last decade." I've spent a life time in Mental Health so I realise that at times it is best to remain silent. We walked in companionable silence for many kilometres and equilibrium seemed restored.

We discovered that most of the regular facilities of the Camino Frances were closed and we had walked almost 12 kms before we found a bar open. On the way there we walked above the worst of this mist at Castro Maior. When we walked through the village 4 men were washing down a large pig which they had obviously slaughtered just minutes before. This will be butchered for the village fiesta to celebrate the Feast of the Kings in 2 days time. Much of it will also be cured in various forms.

The bar on the edge of the village was closed so we sat at the side of the road and shared the KitKat which had been purchased on New Year's Eve. The dull and dank weather continued for the rest of the afternoon and we were glad to reach Palas de Rei.

On the way I noticed a discarded box for Nicotine Chewing gum. Perhaps it had been thrown away by someone whose New Year resolution is to give up smoking. I was cured of that addiction some years ago and know how hard it is so I wish them well.

As for me, my New Year's resolution is to never attempt to kick my heels with or without a rucksack.
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  1. Oh my famous friends.... I love the drama of it all! Did Esteban finally use the German teabag then? Love the song. I think I might start a Camino song section on my blog- this could be the first entry- I imagine it could really take off.....