It was supposed to be a short walk from Palas de Rei to Melide, only 15 km, a welcomed break from our 20 – 25 km daily average. Alas that was not to be and for that we blame John Brierly, author of A Pilgrim’s Guide to the Camino: St. Jean – Roncesvalles – Santiago, the guide-book we read each night in preparation for the road ahead. That day, the “guide-book” suggested a “quick” side tour to Castillo Pambre, a well-preserved 14th century castle just a few kilometers off of the Camino.
As a former boy scout, my husband prides himself on his navigating/map-reading skills and so although he never seems to be able to remember how to get from our house to the mall, when on vacation I let him navigate – all part of my need for adventure. For reasons I should really not elaborate on other to say he was distracted by mother nature not so much calling as it was persistently yelling, we missed the critical turn to the castle road. The book however, showed a second road we could take and my husband assured me (after a quick stop in the woods) that it would only add “a little” more to our walk assuming of course the road was where it was supposed to be – it wasn’t. After walking back and forth along the same road for a while, while cursing at John Brierly’s lack of appropriate mapping, my husband decided to use his phone’s GPS to locate us and the road. Finally through the miracle of modern technology we found that we were standing right next to it.
Having spent more than two hours looking for this road, a little mud was not going to deter us from our mission and so we pressed on relying now on our GPS and not JB’s (what we came to call John Brierly) map. The GPS said take the muddy road – so we did. The GPS said to go up through the trees – so we did. The GPS said take the road long forgotten by man – so we did. The GPS said it would be right in front of us in the next hundred yards and it was – ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE RIVER!
Back on the Camino (4.5 hours later), like a sign from our Gus that he’d enjoyed our shenanigans and was beckoning us to take a break, the very first house we came across was called the “Casa de Agosto” – (August’s House) and conveniently attached to the local “taberna” (pub). We took Gus’ advise, taking a break from our walk to visit the local church where Jesus appeared to be reaching down to hold us and lit a candle for our boy. We then kicked up our feet and indulged in a beer (or two) before continuing on.
When we finally arrived in Melide, 10 hours and 26 kilometers later, having traversed through mud, trees and beautiful little medieval hamlets in the off and on rain, we were greeted by some of the nicest people at our surprisingly modern hotel. After pointing us in the direction of a delicious pilgrim’s meal consisting of more octopus, potatoes and wine, the managers of the hotel promised that the next day’s breakfast would consist of a steaming cup of hot chocolate and the best churros we ever tasted. They were right. Thank you St. James!