|view out our window into someone’s back yard|
one perk of the increased number of peregrinos after Sarria is the ease with which could find food and lodging. we’d had a room booked for Palas de Rei in what turned out to be a modern, comfortable, and highly solicitous hotel (Casa Benilde). our arrival coincided with two political events of varied importance: June 5th marked the date of the Recall election (of which we all know the outcome) and Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee. staying in a modern hotel meant we had an array of cable channels, not just the usual over-the-air basics and caught some of the coverage including her arrival at Buckingham and a flyover by an aerial acrobatic team with World War II Spitfires.
the rest of the day, hike included, didn’t leave much of an impression on me, though I wrote of not feeling physically taxed in the way I’d been on previous days. looking through pictures dredges up hazy memories that pale in comparison to what surfaces when considering the more challenging days. I suppose that four days of hiking fewer than 25 kilometers in favorable temperatures will do that to you. in more than a few ways, the character of the Camino had changed; less sweltering to be sure but also less solitary by quite a long way.
though evidence along the Camino to Palas de Rei suggests settlements dating to the pre-Roman era, little of substance remains. for example, a 7-meter wide ditch leading to a 7-meter wide wall lead up to the current outskirts of one town. outside another (Castromaior) ruins of a Roman camp were discovered, as well as assortment of ceramic vessels. written records of this stretch also refer to it as an “open-air brothel” where prostitutes would approach peregrinos individually to offer their services. for the pious peregrino, the “appropriate” response was to report such wanton women for excommunication, shaming and a punishment of a severed nose. not surprisingly, these women were also often accused of robbing their marks.
|evidence of a proscribed burn along the edge of the highway|
neither of my reference books have much to say on the town itself. it serves as an administrative center but only boasts a population of just over 2,000 (still huge compared to many towns we’ve been through, of course); the bus from Lugo to Santiago stops here though little remains of historic significance in the town. legend holds that the Visigothic king Witiza (who reigned from 701-709) built a palace here, from which the town takes its name, though none of that alleged structure remains. rather, the town has more in common with its medieval self, wherein agricultural hamlets surrounded the “big town” as they do today.