Day Thirty-Four: Palas de Rei to Arzua

Inga left around 3am and, fractions of a Camino-second later, Eva arrived. “I had a nightmare,” she whispered, “and Inga is not in her bed.” “She was here, you probably missed her by a second.” “Well, then it’s nice and warm, can I come in?”

Ginny did her job as an alarm clock at seven, early enough to grab coffee and still be on time, late enough for the common room to be filled with excitedly chattering pilgrims.

We left Palas de Rei, returned onto the Camino, and walked, chattering on about this and that and everything in between. It was a beautiful day, birds singing, and a warm wind tickling our noses.

We took many pictures of me posing with each and then all of my Camino friends under the town sign of Casanova, and treated Ginny to a vegan meal in the outskirts of Melide, as kind of an apology for the dying octopus episode.

Melide itself was unremarkable, except for one thing: the archway to the local church which is immortalized in Europe’s ten Euro note. Instead of stopping, we powered through, arriving in Arzua in time for a late tea time with strong coffee, churros, and a reunion with Rainer and the Swiss.

Rainer had stories about Hu, who’d been caught walking into a girls’ only dormitory at a religious albergue and was, thanks to a “Noooo,” pointing at two peregrinas, and a “Siiiii” pointing at the Swiss, now officially out on the Camino.

The Swiss had some about the Chuckle Brothers who had been using cab transport more and more and were a day behind us, and Alyssa, who was staying in our albergue. Alone, they added.

Our albergue had an automatic lock at the door, and so we retreated early, meeting Alyssa for a night cap inside, who wanted to hear all about Eva, Inga, and me, and then revealed that, unlike her original plans, she was going home from Santiago. “I think I came here to clean myself up,” she explained. “But I realized, it’s not me who needs the powerwash, it’s my situation at home.” She told of an abusive family, eating disorders, the death of her best friend from appetite suppressor pills, her wakeup call, and her decision to walk the Camino once she was back over 50 kilos. “I thought I was the ugliest woman on the planet… now I know that I just was the biggest bitch to myself and everyone else.”

We left Ginny and her in the common rooms, curled onto our beds, and fell asleep quickly. I didn’t dream, but if I had, I am sure it would have been of a mountain of churros and lots of chocolate.