Tom and I can usually pull our two-headed turtle act together enough to decide each evening how far we want to walk the following day and where we want to spend the night.
It's not unusual, however, for us to have great ambition about how far we'll walk in a day - 20, 21, 23 kilometers - and then by the end of the day fall several - or sometimes quite a few - kilometers short of our original goal.
It's not necessarily because we're too tired to walk any further - though sometimes we in fact are - that we stop shorter than we'd planned; we usually stop because it's gotten too late for us to go on.
Our philosophy on the Camino is that you don't want to arrive at your albergue much later than 5 pm or else you risk the albergue being full, and also the hospitalieros don't appreciate you to handing them your laundry to wash when they're bustling around trying to get dinner together.
In any case,it always seem to take us most of the day to get wherever we end up staying for the night. Part of the reason is that I'm a slow, slow walker, always stopping to look at things, to turn around and look at the view behind me, to gaze at the cloud islands, to snap picture after picture.
But the other reason it generally takes us so long every day to get to wherever we end up is because we blow so much time during the day chatting with our fellow pilgrims. We can easily blow an hour in a bar talking. Especially Tom. Tom loves to talk to people and people love to talk to him.
And so we've decided that even though we're the slowest pilgrims on the Camino, interacting with our fellow pilgrims is for us an important part of our Camino.
Of course, we can never participate in kilometer braging.
Yesterday we'd grandiously planned to walk 23 kilometers from Palas de Rei to Portela, but, per usual, we stopped after 15 k's in the city of Melide.
It rained all day yesterday so the Camino Tortoises and Camino Rocket Men and Women came out:
But we were mostly happy trampers, anyway.
Along with the Tortoise and Rocket People we also saw along the way:
A giant Camino scallop shell,
....a troll bridge,
....and several sightings of the little pilgrim xunta guy:
When we arrived at Melide we decided to stay at an albergue called O Cruceiro that we'd seen advertised along the way. It looked nice from the outside and its ads claimed that it was a brand new albergue.
Once we got a look at the dorms, expensive at 10€ per bed, we concluded that this place probably was brand new a hundred years ago. The dorm rooms were dark and dreary and smelled not great, the WIFI didn't work, the bathrooms also smelled and the showers leaked so that the bathroom floor was a pool, the washer and dryer didn't function well - and there was only one of each for 40 pilgrims with wet, muddy clothes, which caused such an atmosphere of laundry anxiety in the dorm that I finally pulled our laundry from its spot in the queue and just washed a couple pieces by hand and hung them up in the drying area where there was water dripping from above, probably from a hole in the roof.
After we hung up our wet clothes in the wet drying room we felt like we had to get away from the laundry drama and general dreariness of the place, so we left and sought out someplace else to be. Down the block from our loser albergue we happened upon a cute restaurant called Chaplin,
....where we had a great meal and then sat around and chatting with other pilgrims, then just sat around more until we really had to return to our albergue. The gracious, friendly server not only didn't mind us hanging out all night but took our photo.
In the course of our evening at the restaurant we ran into one group of pilgrims, middle-aged American ladies, whom we’d been “Buen Camino-ing” along the Camino for weeks but with whom we’d never really stopped to speak. This time we did chat for a moment, mostly about how good the food at this restaurant was.
Then one of the ladies said to me, “Aren’t you the couple who loves pastries? It seems like every town we pass you in you’re going into a pastry shop. And weren’t you the ones who were leading pilgrims off the Camino into a pastry shop in that one little town that was supposed to have the best pastries on the Camino?"
Sigh. Guilty as charged.
A romantic comedy of errors.
Lots and lots of errors.
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