Monday, July 1, 2013

Day 32 - slept in Arzua - July 29

Woke up at 7am, out by 8am, it was a beautiful morning. Dee and I had our morning coffee, tea and pastries and headed to destination: Arzua. Her book said we would cross six shallow river valleys and mostly be on natural pathways through the woodland. We ventured out and meandered through classic pilgrim villages, with ancient crosses and large, stone-and-wooden ornate chicken pens. It was incredibly beautiful, I love the chicken pens :) The pictures speak for the beauty I saw... and here is a video of local Spanish chickens by their fancy digs, a Galician chicken pen!

All the way today we crossed shallow river valleys and during the final phase it got really tough. Someone spray painted "Ultreya!" which means "go forth with courage." The path was through a shaded forest of all kinds of trees - oak, chestnut, pine, and a lot of eucalyptus. Dee and I had long lost each other and I thought about what we said at the beginning of the Camino, how we like it that we're all out here alone, together. I continued through the town of Melide, about half-way, famous for it's octopus (pulpo Galega) and through Ribadiso to Arzua. As usual, the last three kilometers were straight uphill, not a huge hill but a big hill, one you don't notice if you're driving, but one that is brute force when you're a pilgrim. And then the heavens parted and there was Dee, waiting for me at one of the "chairs and umbrellas." We tried the octopus and it wasn't that bad, but we couldn't imagine eating an entire plate of it. The people there were loving it, it was loud and busy inside, full of locals and these new 'city pilgrims' and Dee and I just wanted to sit outside. But talk about the effort to get service. France in the 80's. The bargirl would just huff and puff at me, the owner just kept chopping up octopus until he final told the waiter to serve us outside. It was like the whole place was on drugs. It was better that Dee stayed outside or she would've torn into that bar chick.

We ordered wine with the waiter and she ordered a meal and he brought us the traditional cups they use to drink it there. Unfortunately the wine was unpalatable, it was a flabby, chalky, stemmy, peasant wine and so I had the pleasure of going back inside and asking the waiter to please bring us a bottle of good wine. "Mencia?" he asked. "Si" I said. He exchanged it no problemo and that's how I learned to ask for a proper bottle of wine. It's also when I realized that some things make the Spanish freak out and go on and on, and other things they are totally cool with. I also learned that to get a full glass of wine, instead of a flimsy one-third many servers pour, is to ask for vino tinto assi (pronounced: ah-see) and while you're saying it, make the motion of a fuller glass with your fingers. Then they only charge you 50 cents more and you have a full glass :) We learned that one early one and we were pretty proud of ourselves.  Dee texted with Anna, who had now gotten word on a new apartment she would be moving into when she returned home! I realized I may not get to see her again. She hadn't bused since Najera and she was still several legs behind. "One never knows" I thought, because I really like Anna and I really wanted to see her again.

We found a darling hotel with the most magnificent view. Showers and comfy clothes on, 26 kilometers under our belts, we drank wine and talked and laughed and smoked like two college girls having so much fun. She's a Professor in Ireland at a University in the Information Technology Department specializing in Web Programs and Social Media. She told me she had heard of NetLingo when we met on the second day. She had another guy heading into town to possibly meet her in Santiago; I had told her about my dating sagas. There was loads to discuss!!

"Let no one ever come to you without leaving better or happier." 
- Mother Theresa