Sean Mallory is on Day 4 of his gruelling Camino challenge. This time the drive rather than the walk is what taxes him.
Today we head for Arzúa where our farm house lodge is 15 minutes outside the town but we have a pickup from a particular Café when we arrive. It is more showery today than yesterday and the rain not as incessant. The ponchos serve us well. It is also very warm and while walking through the woods the fragrance from the eucalyptus trees mixes with the steam rising from the woodland floor as it dries and acts as nature's very own aroma therapy balm. My feet are sore but I am able to walk. The last 3km is up hill … once again a very steep hill!
Arzúa is the town and like yesterday’s destination a working town. In the pouring rain we manage to find our café and it is packed with young people waiting on the hostel across the street opening. There is no room for us so we camp in the café next door out of the rain and wait until the café empties when the hostel opens. The rain is more persistent now and we are grateful to have missed these downpours. We relax with a cold beer and a cold glass of wine. As with all the cafés the waiter brings us nibbles along with our drinks. A large bowl of crisps and chorizo sausage in a crusty bap … no need to buy lunch!
The hostel opens and our rendezvous café empties. We vacate one café for another to order our lift. It will be a while before they arrive and we strike up a conversation with the bar staff who, as is the usual, have learned their English while working in London. During the conversation my wife notices a bottle of Nordés gin sitting on the shelf. We soon discover that it is distilled in Galicia and after a little negotiation we purchase a 1ltr bottle of it for €18. The bar staff cannot believe how much we pay for it at home. They also inform us that the grape grown in Galicia is not good for making wine so don’t drink the local produce, in fact it is piss … their words not mine. Something to keep in store.
Our lift arrives and lo and behold it is the ban an tí of the lodge herself and a personality of that of a motherly hen. Vivian is her name and she is so friendly and can’t do enough for us. Her English is like her driving, very poor but between fits of laughter we all manage to communicate and drive. How this lady hasn’t been mangled in a road traffic accident is more than I know! It seems common road courtesy and the Highway Code are the concerns of other drivers and not for her. While on our white knuckle ride she babbles uncontrollably and titters at her own jokes which we have no idea what they are. When we arrive it takes a while for the blood pressure to return to normal. She is lovely and as we are the first to arrive she devotes quite a bit of her time to us. The lodge is amazing. It is built with local cut stone and we have the whole of the top floor for our own personal use which includes a sitting room and TV room which we don’t really avail of at all but nice to have as for your own use should you change your mind.
It is very peaceful and restful. Her husband potters in and out of the vegetable garden. Over to the right of the lodge is another of those long narrow buildings on a plinth. This one though is very ornate and is very well looked after. Alongside the Christian symbols of a crucifix are those of witches. Her son turns up and he has much better English and I ask him what those strange narrow buildings were used for.
He tells me they are for drying sweetcorn for animal feed. Fodder for pigs and hens during the winter. Once it is dried out it is no longer fit for human consumption. He also points to two fields of corn and tells me one is grown for animal fodder and the other for cooking with. Whether there is a difference in the seed or the fields have just been designated as such I don’t know. The building is placed on a plinth to prevent rats accessing and eating the corn. The plinth is not as accomplished at keeping mice out though. I enquire about the witch symbols and he explains that Galicians are very much in to their witchcraft which is a legacy of their Celtic origins. It is very much acceptable and part of their culture. He knows several witches.
Mystery is solved.