Well, interestingly, the day after Portomarin, the tracks didn´t seem quite so crazy-full of people. So I guess we just struck more than a few weekend groups on Sunday, and/or that the big crowd has now moved further ahead than us! We are still finding it easy to get accommodation, and it seems like we are here in a ´lull´before the big holiday crowds descend.
Yesterday we left soon after 6am again, and it was quite misty. We headed down the hill to where a footbridge crossed over the dammed river/lake, and crossed it while it was still darkish. The next bit of the walk headed uphill through some beautiful forest, and for the first time I used my little torch to light the way a little.
We planned about a 20km stretch to Lestedo, in the countryside, rather than head for the next biggish town. The day´s walk passed through what was evidently a very historic part of the Camino, and we passed several signs that indicated where former hostels and cemeteries for pilgrims were located, as well as several small churches and very old looking crosses. There was Celtic settlement here as well. (In fact, every time I have heard it, the local music has been very similar to Irish music.)
We were very happy when we reached Lestedo, to find that the spot was indeed very tranquil. There was room for just 10 in the small albergue; the bunks were comfortable and well spaced out; the shower room was huge; and there was a comfortable lounge to relax in, as well as a large garden. Perfect for not walking far! And the promised rain never started until it began drizzling a little in the evening.
Someone told me that a group of ten(!!!) New Zealanders were staying in a Casa Rural not too far away, but so far I haven´t met up with any of them. I haven´t met 10 fellow Kiwis in the whole time I have been walking so it is amazing that there should be that many within a few hundred metres of me.
This morning at about 5am I had my first taste of proper Galician rain, when it woke me up as it thundered on the roof. Thankfully, by 6am it had all eased off again, and though we walked under skies that were threatening at times, we only needed our raincoats for a short period.
It was lovely walking again, a lot of it on leafy lanes and past little hamlets, and to be sure there are rich rural aromas in places. We crossed several old bridges and saw many small churches, and that always gives a sense that many pilgrims have passed this way in bygone centuries.
Melide is quite a big centre, but the path into it was very pleasant, partly through a forest and a little village where we had our credentials stamped in the church. Even when we need to walk near roads in Galicia, they are usually very quiet ones, and the path for us is well separated off.
We are staying in the Galician albergue here in Melide, and I wasn´t sure I was going to stay here as I had heard bad things about how dirty it was last year. However, although the bunks are quite cramped, the new organisation managing the Galician albergues appear to have cleaned things up a bit. There is a Christian group outside singing, and they have made Paella for lunch etc. I haven´t had any though as I don´t want to be hauled into a witnessing-type convo..... chicken that I am!!! (Actually I am probably safe as I doubt any of them speak English though I might be wrong!)
Only 50km left to walk, and we are expecting to walk into Santiago on Saturday.... Then I will hopefully head to Paris on Tuesday. And I am longing for some blob-out time. Still don´t know how long it will be before I can get a flight home.... have heard nothing more about my wait-listed dates so far.... Am looking forward to some nice long rests on my own bed though!!