El Camino Frances

The Traditional Route from France

Final Section to Santiago

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From Melide to Arca

9 June 1993 and 1/2 July 2002

This is another stage completed in one long march in 1993 but taken at a gentle pace over two days in 2002.

1993. We all got up early intending to make a good start on this long stage but it was still pouring with rain. A long, lazy breakfast helped to pass the time while we waited for the rain to ease off. The front door was still locked at 7.45 when we decided to make a move so we had to climb out of a ground floor window. It was still a very damp day and we were uncomfortable in our waterproofs for most of the way.

In Arzúa we had a conference over coffee to decide how far we wanted to walk in the shortened day and Tomas managed to telephone ahead to Santiago to book hotels for those who would be staying overnight when we arrived the following day. Along the way, as we passed through some woods, Victorino and I spotted some chanterelle mushrooms which we picked for our supper. Just before 2.00 we stopped at a roadside bar and negotiated with the landlady to cook us a lunch. She was a little low on supplies that day and rushed about to her neighbours to restock. By the time she managed to prepare our meal at three o’clock more pilgrims had arrived and she served a wonderful meal to ten of us. Victorino and I spent the time while we were waiting in cleaning our mushrooms and planning how we would cook them later.

Our well-fed gang left the bar about half past four into more heavy rain. The weather made sightseeing difficult so we just pressed on to Arca where we would be within easy striking distance of our final destination. The guidebooks took us on a circuitous tour of the village and we had to back track for some distance to find the refugio that was on the main road. To our disappointment the kitchen of the refugio was still being equipped and our mushrooms were given away when we went out to a bar for an evening snack. Part of the equipment that was being fitted to the kitchen was a microwave oven.

2002. We got up late again feeling the after effects of the fiesta but a breakfast of coffee and churros (long thin fried strips of doughnut batter) set us right to start walking at 8.15.

We were soon in a large wood where there was a powerful smell of eucalyptus and pine. This lasted most of the way into Boente where we were greeted by the parish priest, Fr. Andres, who gave us a guided tour of his roadside church and a pilgrim’s blessing to send us on our way.

Arzua refugio

There was more walking through farms and woods to Ribadiso for a short break then on into Arzúa. Jann, Angelika and Tony were already seated outside a bar in the main street and here we found that the refugio was crowded so decided to stay in a hotel.

The evening was very rainy so we went no further than a café-bar near the hotel for snacks and games of pool with four young pilgrims who were staying in the refugio.

This was another late night but we had not far to go in the morning.

The next day took in lots more farms and woods and the terrain was rather undulating as the Camino crossed many streams and the ridges between them. In the village of Calle a farmyard had been converted into a café-bar which made a very welcome break before pushing on to Arca.

This time I remembered that the refugio was on the main road on the way into town so we avoided the unnecessary detour performed in 1993. Jann was already seated outside the refugio so members of our group were able to claim bunks next to hers before the refugio filled up.

There is not much to see in Arca so we mainly sat around chatting for a while in the sunshine then had a siesta before sampling the rice and lentils cooked by the youngsters we met in Arzúa (they were all vegetarians).

We needed to start early to arrive in Santiago in time to find accommodation before the noon mass so we retired to our beds before 10pm.