Sunday, May 21, 2023

Day 14 - 20 May - Vilanova de Arousa to Aldea Picaraña

As Promiscua, the provocative pepper from Panama, probably sang:

Don't cha wish your pepper was hot like me?Don't cha wish your pepper was a freak like me?Don't cha?

No alarm necessary. No early start. Check-out by twelve noon if required. And why? Because we were taking the boat to Padrón on a one o’clock, in the afternoon, departure time.

The open sea that is the Atlantic has become the Bay of Arousa by the time it reaches Vilanova de Arousa and this later becomes the Rio Ulla which passes through Padrón. This is the route by which the remains (not sure if his head was included) of our hero St James found their way to Galicia after his execution and martyrdom. I think I am right in saying that Padrón was the last place on the Iberian peninsula where he preached before that fateful decision to return home. Anyway, whether this last bit is true (or indeed any of it), St James has a lot of history with Padrón and we were looking forward to getting there. 

The boat trip was like most boat trips that I have ever been on in that it sounds like a good idea but it can go on a bit, get very cold and you’re glad to get off. This boat trip was a good idea because it saved us a long, twenty two mile trudge but one hour and forty minutes was quite long enough thank you and I was glad I had put my longs on and a warm jacket. 

Once disembarked, we walked the one mile into Padrón for a little explore. I find Spanish towns and cities generally fascinating with grand central squares, historic buildings and atmosphere but Padrón was rather lacking. Maybe that’s why St James packed in his Iberian tour way back when if this was the last place where he tried to convert a few souls? If only they had shown a bit more interest.

So, whilst a little disappointed with this particular aspect of Padrón, we had another reason to be here……..Padrón peppers.

Some are hot, and some are not

Padrón peppers can be eaten raw but are generally fried in olive oil, until wilted, and served with a generous sprinkling of sea salt. They are generally mild in taste but can produce the occasional extremely hot out-rider. This apparent quality has led to the popular Galician aphorism Os pementos de Padrón, uns pican e outros non which rather jauntily translates to Padrón peppers, some are hot and some are not.

We had a plateful between us. Between this and prior experience with Padrón peppers which, I must say, I do enjoy, I think a more accurate strap line would read Padrón peppers, not hot.

We enjoyed our peppers nonetheless, washed down with a couple of bottles of Estrella Galicia at bodega/ taperia O Secrets do Vino where they looked after us very well and were particularly pleased that we gave the peppers the thumbs up. But now we actually had some walking to do and it was already four o’clock. Still, we didn’t have too far to go, just over six miles which would likely take between two and three hours depending on road conditions. 

Road conditions were boring to start with and very warm but boring turned to actually quite pleasant by the time we were nearing our destination. However, I shaved my head this morning and rather like Samson of bible fame, I found my strength had deserted me. Now, coincidence or what but it was on this day last year that Mrs C and I walked into Villafranca del Bierzo on the Camino Frances and that was my lowest, weakest, most pathetic day of the whole Camino.

Maybe 20 May next year will be a good day to stay in bed?

We have come up trumps with our accommodation tonight, it being a two bed, small house in the middle of nowhere which is fast becoming a theme. Our lovely hostess brought us fresh eggs with which omelette was later conjured up by the girls. Not one of us fancied moving away from the place in favour of a nearby bar. In fact, I reckon had we had a bar at the bottom of the garden we may still have struggled to summon up the effort to move from where we were.

So, our final night on Camino. We reach Santiago tomorrow although how I’m going to cope with ten miles is anybody’s guess. On the plus side I’m sure that Andrea would give me a piggy back if I asked her. She is too nice.

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