New day, new walk. I had decided to do my best for myself and the knee, meaning not giving up but also not overdoing it. I know this walk by now and was looking forward to a lovely bimble through forests and tiny villages, with a good few places to stop along the way. Hopefully not all of them would be full of people queueing up.
And incredibly, the Casa Domingo was practically empty when I sauntered in there! I even got a table outside without anyone nicking my chair, that was a nice change from the first day leaving Sarria. I had a typical pilgrim breakfast of Santiago cake and a coffee, with an Aquarius chaser to keep me going. I even stayed a while just sitting there people watching and enjoying the sunshine and giving my knee a rest.
Considering that we are walking towards a large town, I am always impressed at how nice and pilgrim friendly the trail to Melide is. I came across this tree which reminded me that what doesn’t break us, makes us stronger, that where there is a will, there is a way, and that life doesn’t always go to plan – there are always other ways of getting from A to B (or C). In hindsight I wish I had had a spare shell to hang on it.
I normally stop at a little bar by the river just before crossing the bridge over to the Melide side, but when we came down the forest path just a stone’s throw away the road was cordoned off and we were sent on a detour because of road works. That meant missing out on another rest, and also carrying on on tarmac. We were led to the main drag and then off it again, to avoid the tarmac I assume, but by this time I was so close I just carried on straight ahead. I could see the buses collecting groups on the outskirts of town and wondered if the rerouting into the path again was for their benefit.
I really wanted something to eat, so I went to the Garnacha on the corner, but people were literally queueing out the door, so no, thank you. The Pulperia Ezequiel, Melide’s famous and favourite pulpo joint, with wooden benches and rustic interior, was almost empty, so I decided against that too. Why sit on a wooden bench alone? I ended up in town, where I sat down in the shade with a beer and a plate of chicken wings and pondered what to do next. I could stay in Melide or move on. I could move on by foot or not. I had transport options, but were there still accommodation options so late in the day? I managed to cancel my bed in Boente and rebook in Arzúa, which would mean a shorter day to Pedrouzo and then to Santiago. Options became choices and my knee and I were happy with the new plan.
Then the Musicians messaged me to say they were staying in Melide and were having pulpo in the Garnacha, and as we wouldn’t meet again for a few days I went back down to say hi. We had a drink and a chat before I got in a taxi and went to Arzúa. Did I feel bad about it? No. My knee would have got a lot worse if I had walked another few hours. Did I wish I had stayed in Melide instead? Yes, but then all my other bookings and my flights would have been out of kilter. In a normal year and without a return ticket I would happily have stayed and cut down on my daily stages instead, but this pandemic Holy Year was a whole new beast. People were scrambling for beds, hostels were giving booked beds to others if pilgrims arrived late – too many double-booked no-shows – and there was a definite air of bed race over the early morning exits. At least my new plan would give me two comfortable walking days to Santiago.
Arriving in Arzúa I realised I had booked in the albergue part of a place I had stayed the year before with the Scouse Spouse! The beds were comfy, I could sit up without knocking my head in the top bunk, there were little bunk lights and blankets and great showers. I did the shower, change and chores and went out to find a pizza place the Musicians had told me about. Instead I found the Irishman and his millionaire, and two ladies travelling solo who had met on the way. The younger had tendonitis and was taxiing at this point, and they were meeting up in the afternoon. We had a drink in the shade of the trees on the plaza, they went to the launderette and I went off to find food. Somehow we ended up bumping into each other again outside the door of the Furancho, so we had dinner together, which was great. When my albergue alarm went, I dutifully headed for my bed despite having keys to the place. Most of the others took the opportunity to stay out late, but I was full and tired and needed my sleep before tomorrow’s now shorter walk to Pedrouzo and the Proposal bar.