Camino Stage 31: Portomarin to Palas de Rei (Merlán)

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I forgot to add to the previous post that when walking up to the main square in Portomarin yesterday evening (itself moved up the hill brick by brick when the reservoir was filled), I ran into seven people I knew from the Camino who were about to go for a Pilgrims Meal. Besides the two Canadian girls, Scottish Celia, Jane from Arizona and a nice French couple, Eric and Anne-Claude, there was the Turtle – the Uruguayan I had helped days before outside León. Apparently he is calling himself The Turtle now and it has become his Camino nickname. He’s sent photos of ‘his saviour’ home to South America. I’m really glad he has made it through.

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As for this day’s walk it was pleasant. Again it was mainly through shady forest country. The touristos were also much more subdued. I think it helped that after walking 25km the day before, people would have woken to realise that they had to go 28.5km today, the temperature was going up to 29C and the first 10km were uphill! Being able to back up day after day is the trick of the Camino. There we still heaps of people with clean boots, white legs under shorts and shiny new walking poles, but they were focussed on the walk today.

Actually I had another ‘here, let me help you’ moment. I reached the top of one crest only to find 4 young Spanish women asking each passerby in turn if they had a pair of scissors. One of them had strained a thigh and they were trying to bandage it. With one bound and a quick ‘Possiblo’, out came the trusty Swiss Army knife to cut up the strapping. I didn’t really do much, but there were many ‘Gratias’ as I walked on. I felt like the guy in the Toyota ad who rescues the damsel’s stranded vehicle. Thought I had a Bonds singlet and an Akubra on!

And my day ended in a nice Casa Rural. I had been told to get a taxi to the place after I reached the village of Palas de Rei. After surviving a hectic fast ride with a young Spaniard who seemed to be a direct descendant of Juan Fangio – with me gripping the passenger’s door on the wrong side of the car as we flew round hedgerow corners – I ended up 10km north of the village for the night. I was no longer even on the Camino Frances. I had reached the Camino Primitivo which was to merge with the Camino Frances at the next town.

And the Casa was owned by an English couple who had sold up everything to come to Spain to renovate a derelict farmhouse and barn into an upmarket B&B. It was like staying somewhere that had been featured on an English renovation TV show. I was very comfortable.

And I was not alone. Two other Australians joined me – Eric, a nursing administrator for Victoria, and Paul, Professor of Medecine at Newcastle. A pleasant evening ensued before I woke up next morning in the middle of nowhere.

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