Almost there, but not there… Melide

Today is going to be the longest day of the trip as we cover about 30 miles or close to 50 kilometers.
Portomarin-to-Palas-de-Rei-Elevation-MapPortomarine is a couple of kilometers to the left of the map above.

Palas-de-Rei-to-Arzua-Elevation-Map Randy, Bryon and Liz start walking and their destination is Melide which requires walking the full distance of the top map and half-way into the next stage.   Will the feet survive?

2014Camino-3 Adios,  Italia!!! 

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2014Camino-1070620nrFoggy day in the woods.

2014Camino-1070625crOccasionally a cement picnic table will appear to facilitate a quick break.

2014Camino-1070627dmvThe path is worn down from centuries of pilgrims walking to Santiago.

2014Camino-1070632dmvcrWhy can’t we stay here?   In March of 2013 we did stay here and woke up to fresh snowfall.

Have Joan and Joyce been kidnapped?  Where could they be?  Um-m-m-m… shopping?

2014Camino-But first we go to the Church of San Juan since it is Sunday. This church was reconstructed brick by brick when the dam flooded the town to build a hydroelectric power plant and they were forced to relocate the city of Portomarine.

We say a little prayer for the other three trudging down the 30 mile path today.
IMG_20140824_042957_700dmvNow we hop into a cozy taxi for a joyride to Melide where we check our group into the albergue.   Every Sunday in Melide you will find a fruit, meat and cheese market where farmers bring their produce in to sell. Randy took my camera so I’m stuck with a low-end cell phone camera and Joan’s Ipod to document the day.

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IMG_20140824_043511_793dmvcrPigs feet?  Not sure how I’d cook them so I’ll pass this time.

IMG_20140824_043540_275dmvcrThis little piggy went to market…

IMG_20140824_043601_120dmvcrNorwegian cod caught in Spanish waters. Is this like lutefisk?

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IMG_20140824_043740_452dmvcrThe air is filled with noisy chatter.

IMG_20140824_060430_499dmvcrJoan negotiates our transaction and we will be supplied with delicious cheese straight from the farmer for the next several days.  Delish!

IMG_20140824_060507_631dmvJoan and I have the great plan to walk back on the trail to meet the rest of the gang to show support.  We walk and walk, but don’t see pilgrims.  This can’t be right?  We go back, find the right road out-of-town, and wait for them…and wait…and wait… and wait some more.

Finally, after almost every pilgrim has gone by, we finally make radio contact and walk to meet them. The last 10 miles have been brutal and Randy, Bryon and Liz finally limp into town, too tired to take pictures.

Painful feet, blisters and exhaustion dictate the mood tonight.

How about some cheese with that wine?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Camino Day 5 …and the beat goes on…

The best thing one can do when it’s raining is to let it rain.  ~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Spain-1030694dmvThe challenging path continues to be flooded in areas and muddy at best.  I think all of us are beginning to wonder what we’ve gotten ourselves into and what may lie ahead.  Water-soaked boots are heavy weights and pull on our tired, sore leg muscles as we schlepp along.

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We are now in Galicia and the scenery has blossomed into the emerald green of spring as we weave through woods and dale.  We crossed into Galicia on day four before crossing the snowy mountain and the village of  O  Cebreiro sits near the top.  I must have missed the sign.  (Better go back and hike that mountain so I can see the Galician border sign.)   I’ve read that in the Galician language,  O replaces El.  Our final destination, Santiago de Compostella, is the capitol of Galicia.

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Two languages are official and widely used today in Galicia; the native Galician, a Romance language closely related to Portuguese with which it shares the common Galician-Portugal medieval literature, and the Spanish language, usually known locally as Castilian. 56.4% of the Galician population always speaks in Galician or speaks more in Galician than in Castilian, while 42.5% speaks always in Castilian or more in Castilian than in Galician. ~ Wikipedia

Spain-1030704dmvOur path continues through a muddy, hilly wooded area and we come across a colorful, although tacky, looking memorial made of cast-off clothing, snack garbage, socks, hats…  It appears as though it is the  pilgrim dump.  I am not impressed with this area since it contrasts so starkly with the quiet, remote woods,  farmlands and small villages.  The site does kind of remind me of Jamaica with its bright colors.  Randy would like to take home that nice jacket on the lower right, but it’s not his size.

Spain-1030705dmvI have no idea what the pine cones are all about.  Any ideas?

Spain-1030707dmvcrRomanesque stone walls border our path as we cross through pasture areas, working our way down to the city of Portomarin.  The slimy mud pulls on our boots and the path is also mixed with  sweet smelling cow manure ~ Watch your step!   The farmer is getting the herd adjusted to their new pasture grounds using a stick and his dog.

Spain-1030712dmvRomanesque walls border the path and pasture and makes for an interesting cattle fence.

Portomarin bridgeThis long bridge over the rushing waters of the Mino River is the only thing between us and our destination for the day, Portomarin, Spain.  I hang tightly onto my walking poles as the strong gusts of wind push, tug and pull on me as if playing the old playground game, King of the Hill.    ~ Photo from Google images.

Portomarin is tucked in amongst the hills of Monte do Cristo and the river intersects the village.  During medieval times people lived on the right bank of the river, in an enclave (territory surrounded by another territory) by the Camino de Santiago.

The Portomarin we see today dates mostly from the middle of the 20th century with much of the old town now below the waters of the Miño.  In the 1950’s Franco decided he wanted to build a hydro-electric dam 40 kilometres down river and in doing so would flood the town of Portomarín.  The townspeople wanted to save some of their most important monuments and transported these stone by stone up to their new home, high above the river, which you see in the photo above.   Now, that would require some heavy lifting!  Parts of the old town resurface in the fall when the water level gets low.

As we first come across the new bridge, we pull our tired bodies up some steps to an arch where we see the Iglesia de Santa Maria de las Nieves, built on the site of a former pilgrim hospital.  The staircase is actually the sole remaining part of the original 2nd century Roman bridge, which was destroyed by Doña Urraca.   I would have taken a photo but it was raining.  Go figure…

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Wet, tired, stiff, sore, hungry… A-h-h-h-h…. home, sweet, home.