Walking West – Santa Irene

Day 30 – Melide to Santa Irene, 20.03 miles

The Melide Graveyard.

I stepped out of the Albergue San Antón after the requisite coffee and croissant and immediately saw swarms of people on the Camino. Mostly in tour groups, these are the hardest to walk among. I cursed my decision to walk to Santiago, had a few other foul thoughts, and then began zig-zagging through them to get ahead and away.

Like a skilled NASCAR driver among Go-Karts, I was quickly ahead of them all. Arriving at the edge of town, I noticed a little church on the hill and an adjoining graveyard. I slipped off the path for a quick sunrise picture, not wanting to lose any ground to mob behind. I took a picture from the church, then noticed the graveyard might give a better perspective. I snapped the picture above and then looked at some of the gravemarkers. On the way out there was a little old man at the gate, I stopped to chat with him. In our conversation, he asked where I was from and if I could pray the “Our Father” prayer with him in my language. Texas high school athletics paid off at that moment, I’ve had the prayer etched in memory for decades. He squeezed my arm as I recited the prayer, tears welling in his eyes. The mob passed outside the gate. Upon the “amen,” he gave my arm a final squeeze and patted me on the back. “Gracias y buen camino.”

It was a sweet reminder that there are things more important than winning the daily Camino race.

This may be the best sunrise picture of them all.
Rugged and austere, but I do have needs.
The amazing Eucalyptus forests of Galicia.
The four-legged Santa Irene Welcoming Committee.

I had a little trouble finding a place to sleep, all the little towns were completo. Finally, in Santa Irene, there was a nice municipal albergue with available beds. It was a well-designed and clean place, all for €8.

What they didn’t have was food, so I walked into town to eat. On this little excursion I learned that Santa Irene had only one bar, and it was closed. The only sign of life was the big farm dog poking his head through the hedges barking at me.

I’d not eaten since the bacon & egg platter at 1:00 pm. Fortunately, I have some fat reserves stored for such an occasion. I tightened my belt and drank lots of water. I’ll stop for a big breakfast tomorrow on the way to Santiago!

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