Camino de Santiago: Day 26 (Christina)

San Xulian do Camino to Arzua (25.4 km)

When I step out the Albergue door at 7:30 this morning, I am in the middle of a swarm of school children who are walking the Camino today.  I figure there must be a hundred kids and sure enough later on someone tells me there are indeed 100 kids from Madrid on the Camino. It is another very cold morning.

I walk alone all day today and don’t see a single soul that I know.  I chat in the cafes when I take a break, but don’t meet anyone I am really interested in getting to know.  The scenery is nothing spectacular either.  I am walking through lots of little villages similar to the one I slept in last night.  Often the trail passes right through someone’s farm.  The smells of the farm are very pungent.  This is probably the most uneventful day on the Camino so far and I’m thinking it will be the shortest blog entry too.

Some of the school kids taking a break with their support vans.

Arzua is a big town and I would prefer to stay in a smaller village but the next Albergue according to my notes is another 10 km away and I do not have it in me to go that far.  Besides I’m almost in Santiago, so there is no need to kill myself with excessive distances.

It is sometimes difficult to decide where to sleep when you are in a large town.  When there is just one Albergue, the decision is made for you.  But when there are dozens to choose from, it can be daunting.  This is how I picked my Albergue in Arzua.  First, when I stopped at the edge of town to read my notes, the one Albergue that sticks out is the one that says it is beautifully renovated and has good reports.  Then I look up and see an advertisement for that very Albergue.   So that is the one where I will stay.  It is unclear where it is so I head to the church from which I hope to see another sign.  Very strangely, I see a truck parked near the church and on the side of the truck there is a huge advertisement for the Albergue I am looking for.  Then as I pass the truck, there is actually a map on the back of it.  How weird is that!  Now I easily find the Albergue and sure enough it is very nice.

After the usual drill, I just walk out the Albergue door when I see Chris walking down the street.  We both laugh, what are the odds that we would both pick the same place and actually run into each other in a town this size.  I go back inside and Chris gets the bunk next to me.  There are no private rooms in this Albergue so it is bunkbeds for both of us tonight.  At least we are next to each other.  I lie down and wait for him to go through his routine and then we head out for food and drink where I run into Frances and Glenn who again are looking for beds and I direct them to my Albergue.  I also see the American girls from the previous night.  I introduce Chris to everyone.

Later that night, I see Veronica in the bathroom at the Albergue.  She and Andrei arrived late and now she tells me that there is a big fiesta in this town starting at midnight.  She even has the code to get back into the Albergue so it is possible to break curfew.  Well, I’ve been ready for a fiesta for a few days so I seize the opportunity.  We all head out around 9:30 and go for a few drinks as we make our way up to where the party will be.  When we arrive, there is a large castle built specifically for this party.  It’s about three stories high.

The party begins with some musicians and then a group of people dressed in capes parade around.  There is a honorary pilgrim for this fiesta; a young girl they have snatched from the Municipal Albergue.  There is some ceremony as she is donned with a cape like the others.  I bet she has no clue what is going on, but she seems to take it all in stride. There are a few speeches and then the fireworks begin.

Then suddenly the whole castle is on fire and everyone watches it burn to the ground.

After that, the food and wine comes out.  You can buy a cup on a string that you wear around your neck for just 10 Euros and that gives you unlimited food and drink.  It is about 1:30 am by now and the last thing I want to do is drink more alcohol or eat food.  Veronica buys a cup and she lets us all taste her food – tender, juicy ribs with potatoes and tiny sweet green peppers that have been roasted to perfection.  Much to Veronica’s disappointment I announce at around 2:00 am that I am ready for bed.  The party is just getting into full swing now, the band is playing (rather badly I must say) and I am told this will continue until the morning at which time everyone will go for breakfast and then come back to continue the party all day on Sunday.  But for now, my bed is calling me.

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3 Responses
  1. Angus says:

    Awe Christine, I can’t believe after walking all day for only 26 days you bailed from the party at just 2:00 am. Where’s your party spirit? 🙂

  2. Neil & Michelle says:

    Hey you two! Sorry it has been so long – kind of like when you lived just a few km away. School is finally winding down so I have spent some time over the last week trying to catch up on your adventures. Interesting reading! Thanks for all the work, especially with euro eating computers. We have been busy but if we wrote a blog about what has been happening it would be a cure for insomnia! I can’t believe all that you’ve done, seen, endured…. The distances travelled, the questions answered … So many kilometers and blisters but it is almost over and time to move on to the next adventure. Congratulations! We’ll keep reading and try to be better about sending you a “wow & bravo” on a more regular basis. Take care, and Christopher, you keep writing also, it is nice to get the 2 perspectives every now and then and the pictures, of course are amazing!!

  3. Andrei says:

    Heyyy! so great to see your blog! you forgot in this entry the part about our invitation to the “private party” hahaha! what a nice night!