There are 4 things that, after the facts, I could not do without.
First is a Canadian Tilley hat, a present from my beloved wife Raffaella. It has been a great companion in all weather conditions, shading the eyes and the face from the fierce sun, or providing sufficient coverage from the rain. Even battered by the road, it keeps in excellent shape and gives me a signature adventurer’s look.
Second is the no-H2O rain jacket from Patagonia, a kind present from my friend Stefano. It is absolutely waterproof and in conjunction with a backpack cover, makes a poncho totally redundant. In addition to a fleece makes an excellent windbreaker sufficiently comfortable to withstand also the near zero temperatures of certain early mornings.
Third is my cotton scarf, a gift from the tour agent when I visited Cambodia. A simple cloth that can protect the throat from excessive cold, or raised up to cover nose and mouth during wind and dust storms. It also can be used as bandana and a turban, and lastly as a pillow case in Albergues not providing one.
The fourth is the silk liner bed sheet, that is providing sufficient protection from the not so clean environment of some Albergues. With an extra blanket it is warm and comfortable to make your own resting alcove despite all the snoring in the dormitory.
Of Melide, there is not much to recount except the local specialty, the pulpo gallego (octopus, galician style). It was so good, that I forgot to take a picture. Oddily enough, I found an Israeli couple at the restaurant, both pilgrims on the Camino, and witnesses of the universality of the pilgrimage, beyond nationalities and religious boundaries. The oddity lies in the fact that the octopus is not kosher food for Jews, and despite my attempts to let them try the food, Bhatia, the lady, did not give in. Eli, the husband, instead was really appreciating it and we shared a couple of servings with abundant toasts with the local wine. Later, Luigi, the crazy pilgrim walking since July 1st from Rome and Avid, Swede, joined in and we had some good time together.
The new day started with the unmistakable tic-tic of rain drops outside the window, and you could feel the longer than usual preparations of the pilgrim crowd, since nobody is really eager to start the day walk in the cold, in the dark and under a dripping rain.
But Santiago is getting closer, and most conversations are about return flight schedules, and whether continue to Finisterre of not. Certainly the weather now more typically autumnal, is more suggestive of joyous family gatherings perhaps around a fireplace roasting chestnuts, than planning more extensive walks.
It rained the whole day, turning the trails into water streams and the dust in mud. My mood has been good and happy inside my super waterproof rain jacket and under the wide brim of the dripping hat. I figured out I could by one if these gnomes or other creatures of the woods. A red-breasted robin which I believe is the very same bird that greets me every morning, hopped a few times on the road just like assuring me that everything is in great harmony and I was sort of accepted in this fascinating world of the woods.
Incidentally, I have favoured an excellent plate of local queso con miel ( heese with honey) in Arzua, another insignificant city but with an excellent cheese making tradition.
I have to recall back what I said previously about Galicia. It seems that the influence if the closer Atlantic Ocean always affects the weather which makes the county to resemble Britain or Ireland, according to some comments of the well informed. Also it is a bit disappointing that there are countless small rivers which flow along the North-South direction, whereas the Camino is heading on a East-West direction. The effect is that the road us a continue rollercoaster with deep descents into valleys to ford the rivers followed by steep climbs. Under a persistent rain horrible pools of mud and everpresent cow dung are formed at the lowest points creating some difficulty in proceeding fast.
I wanted to stop at the 20km mark to Santiago, but the conditions of the trail suggested me to take it easy and stop a bit before.
The sky decided to open a little, suggesting an endorsement of my decision to stop. Maybe I will be able to wash my stuff and dry up before tomorrow. Santiago is still within tomorrow’s reach.