What do you call a group of cyclists on the Camino?

Day 6 – Melide – Arzua

I’m up for walking today, I wonder where I will get to!  Arzua looks like a nice goal and apparently the weather is going to turn nasty so as far as I can get will be good, wherever that is!  I wonder if Zie German’s have finished yet.  I wonder if Denmark caught up with America.  I wonder if antisocial 3pm-5am lady is still waking people up early.  Lots of questions!

Today’s walk started in rain that couldn’t quite figure out if it was committed enough to actually be a real bother so I decided to put my pack cover on just incase and otherwise ignore it.  10 minutes in I met a couple of older ladies from Holland and we chatted for a bit but for the first time so far, they were too slow for me!  A little later on at a very picturesque spot I met a very sweet young guy from down south in America on his independence/gap year trip.

He was very free spirited, cheerful, chatty and carefree and reminded me a lot of my brother.  We kept each other company for about half of the walk to to Arzua as he had a bit of tendonitis in his achilles so was going a little slower than his normal 35+km per day.  Eventually, even with his tendonitis, we parted ways and he went on ahead.

Today has been the day of the tour group – in particular, the cycling tour group.  First up, however, was a group of Spaniards on foot all decked out in matching bright yellow t-shirts, rudely taking up the entire path and chatting at an excessive volume (as they are wont to do in Spain).  We swapped the lead a few times and I thought I had lost them for good when they stopped at a cafe for lunch and I decided to keep going.  50m down the road from the cafe I was passed by a tornado of bright yellow on wheels as a wall of nearly 30 cyclists whizzed by on the downhill trending path.  A lot of them called out the customary ‘Hola’ or ‘Buen Camino’ as they passed and by the time the last one went by my neck was sore from turning to see if there were more coming!  Shortly afterwards two smaller groups passed me and then another large group of around 20, this time wearing blue shirts.  Really guys, the tour isn’t for a month or so and you’re in the wrong country for it anyway!  It sparks the question – what do you call a group of cyclists on the Camino? And the answer really is debatable (although many would say ‘a huge pain in the a**e’).  In some places there is no room for them and they really shouldn’t be on it, particularly seeing as though they often have their own route going via more major roads that doesn’t include where those of us on foot are walking.  It really is rather irritating to find yourself forced into a ditch or prickly bush or over a wall (particularly either first thing in the morning or when it is raining) just because some guy has decided he wants his Camino to be more authentic so has taken his bicycle on the bits that weren’t made for bikes and suddenly discovered there isn’t enough room for the two of you or he can’t control his hybrid road/mountain bike properly on the tough downhill patches where the trail has eroded.  Don’t get me wrong, some of them are great – lovely, cheerful, great company and (the best bit) they go heaps further in one day than those of us on foot so if they snore like a chainsaw the odds of encountering them again along the way are very low!  Actually that’s not so good if they’re kinda cute and you want to get a second look 😉

A little later on I stopped to change my dressings and have a break.  The gauze and tape is working much better than the compede.  This may be because the compede sticks to the skin in order to heal properly and protect blisters but it doesn’t work well in some places or when a blister gets to be a certain size as all it succeeds in doing after that is pulling the skin as you walk causing more friction and considerable blister enlargement.
 As I was stopped the walking group in yellow passed me again.  There were a few decent sized hills today even though my map shows a general downhill trend – but we have already established that my map is crap!

3km out of Arzua I sat at a cafe on a hill and ate lunch – a spanish omlette which I shared with my new friend (isn’t he cute!)
 As I ate (and he hopped around looking cute) a group of Japanese walkers passed by all clothed from toe to wrist and neck then topped off with ridiculously large brimmed hats waving to everyone they passed.  They all looked like they were having a fantastic time.  After a while I was joined by a German girl and 2 girls from Puerto Rico who were walking with a band that was playing in the plaza at Arua that evening.  I heard that there was a large hill between there and Arzua but nothing much of interest in Arzua itself (apart from the band).  I decided to push on anyway as I hadn’t arranged accommodation and did not want to miss out!

The German girl was right, there was a bit of a hill between the cafe and Arzua but it was manageable and I paused at the top for a photo op (to disguise the fact that I was a little out of breath) – here are Ding and I just outside Arzua and next to what appears to be a corn field.
 I found a hostel that seems to be ok – it says in the guide book that it has 2 rooms but the rooms are really one room separated by a panel that doesn’t go up to the ceiling.  Still, it has a little garden with clothes line, a laundry, hot showers with separate bathrooms for men and women and the showers are in stalls so you can hang your clothes up and get changed without having to do it in the communal bathroom area.

The afternoon was lovely and sunny so I did my washing, tended to my feet, re-did my sports tape and wrote in my journal while I was chatted to by a young, bald German guy who (for some strange reason) was doing his exercises in the garden.  Why someone would want to do sit-up’s, push-ups and jump around after having walked 30+km I have no idea.  He cheerfully told me his friends now called him supercaminoman and he was devising a comic about it.  Stranger things have happened and he was amusing company.  I haven’t met anyone so far who wasn’t really nice (or if they weren’t they kept to themselves and I was none the wiser).

After all that I headed in to town in search of food, entertainment and a bank that is linked to my bank at home that was supposed to be there and would mean no ridiculous withdrawal and exchange fees.  I had no idea where the plaza was or what time the band was playing but the town is not very big so I was confident I would find it and I did – but not the bank.

I set myself up for a bit of people watching and quickly struck up a conversation with a delightful Italian while we were trying to figure out the significance of a statue of two small children each hugging a calf.

We chatted for a while, had dinner in the plaza and then waited for the band to start.  we knew we were in the right place as their mic’s and things were set up but they weren’t playing anything! The waiter told us they would start at 8.  8 came but the band didn’t.  The 8:30 came, 8:45 and still no band.

By that stage it was rather cold so we decided to get up and move around a bit and wait a little longer before giving up completely.  Then at the other end of the plaza I saw the Puerto Rican girls from the cafe on the hill.  They explain that the band was supposed to start at 8 but they are right next to the church and mass started at 8 so they had to wait for it to finish.  They had been told that mass would finish at 8:30 but then told later that the priest was old and liked to talk a lot so it would probably be 9.  Ah well, that’s spain time for you!

My feet are looking worse by the day but hey, they’re still there so that’s got to mean something, right?!

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