Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Day 6 Triacastela to Sarria: From Blood, Sweat and Tears to the Fifth Dimension

For any non-boomers out there not privy to the references, yesterday we learned that what went up, had to come down. And today, it's up, up and away to Sarria with a 1000 ft ascent over the hill.
Up, up and away, but not at too steep a grade, praisethelord!
Living in East Tennessee has been great prep for this walk. Unlike England and Andorra, the grades here on climbing are very gentle and designed in a way that nearly any reasonably fit peregrino can achieve the goal of Santiago de Compostela. It was a very pretty walk as well through forests and farms punctuated by either fresh air or fresh cow poop. We walked amongst birch trees and forest roads with intermittent views down the valley toward our goal city of Sarria.
Was it black cow poop or white cow poop? Only Dan McCoig will get this reference. Paul explained it to me and it defies understanding!
Bovine love!

Seriously? A coke machine in the middle of nowhere? And it had a security camera.

 At the halfway point today, in Furela we stopped at a small bar/café called Casa de Franco for a cracker thin crust pizza and a diet soda. Heaven! It’s the only place for miles and really drew a crowd. From there we trekked on into Sarria, a town of approximately 15,000 sans pilgrims. It's an important hub for the pilgrimage as just beyond the city limits marks the 100km mark--the minimum for having the office in Santiago issue you a compostela document in Latin no less.  So many folks start their peregrinations here. And apparently, that pisses off the folks who started in Roncevalles to do the entire 33 day trek. We've not often encountered large crowds or had to walk for prolonged periods amongst them, but we are told that is likely to change tomorrow. We'll see!  After arriving and finding our hotel, the Alfonso IX, we went for the daily celebratory beer--this time a Mahon which was very tasty after 12 miles of hiking.   We were very pleased with our hotel after a couple of nights of cubicles, but it's always unnerving staying at a place named after someone who died in the town while walking the camino!

We soon our naps and then explored Sarria which is surprisingly Celtic in origin. I guess I should have noticed Galicia and Gaelic are the same word?😀 We walked up stairs into the old city which is footpath only. Although we saw the main cathedral, no visits were permitted as mass was in session. We continued upward to find the monastery of Mary Magdelene and get our "credential stamped."
Mary Magdelena Monastery.
From there, we saw the large city cemetery with crypts galore ala New Orleans and the remains of a castle, long since abandoned.
The city of Sarria from Castle Hill
Then it was off to dinner. Today we ate pizza and hamburgers. Oh well. Paul topped it off with his favorite dessert since we arrived--torta de Santiago, a moist almond cake that pretty much tastes exactly like my grandma's pound cake with a few almonds decorating it. We are very grateful for another lovely day, the strength and legs to walk it and the eyesight to enjoy all the amazing sights.
Some of the highlights were the scenery, the ferns and birches along the way and the vegetable gardens as we got closer to Sarria. There were also some surprises: A British artist with a watercolor gallery quite literally in the middle of the woods away from all towns. He appears to live below the gallery and be completely dependent on the passing peregrinos. The watercolors were beautiful, usually depicting scenes along the Way and some had inscribed scripture. He was quite personable and told us to watch for the ribbon of fog sitting on the city of Sarria as we descended the mountain. Other surprises: Amorous bovines, potato harvesters nearly in a fist fight, messages on rocks from passing pilgrims, and the soft drink vending machine smack dab in the middle of nowhere.

Daily meditation was on Plato. Paul's comment: Ahead of his time. I admire him for saying "do not repay evil with evil. Strive to always do good." That was in the BC time zone!

 Paul's Ponderings:  We hiked around 14 miles today, including extra stuff, from Tricastela to Sarria.  The guidebook said "steep" but compared to East Tennessee steep it was not so bad, with most of that coming out of Tricastela.   After that it was mostly forested paths of reasonable grade.   The day was pretty much cloudy all day with no rain, but the temperature stayed pleasant (mid 60s).   We were in Sarria by 1:30 pm and averaged about 2.8 mph despite the hills.   So, we stopped for about an hour in a café and had a snack before heading to the hotel.    For 14 miles, not too shabby.   Sarria is a lovely town of about 13,000 folks.   As such it's large compared to what we've seen since Leon.   As an editorial comment, I've noticed the following happening in rural Spain…very unusual to me.   Lou booked the lodgings in her name and when we show up they've been ready.   In typical European fashion, they take down your passport information and then finalize the check in process.  Despite the fact that she has paid for the lodging in her name, they ask me to sign the paperwork.   And it's pretty clear they want the man in the party to sign it too.   It's a bit odd to say the least, but we just roll with it.   I've never seen anything quite like this in the US, even though they often think I am "Lou" due to the androgynous name, although there is a quick recovery once they figure it out.  Our next two days are continued big mileage with around 14 and 15 miles coming up.  But, we are already 25 miles into a 100 mile foot trip, so once we pass those days, we are way beyond the halfway point. 

Salud y amor  on the walkway in front of the river Sarria

 Words  of encouragement from a passing peregrine to fellow pilgrims. Apparently some of the municipal dorms are not segregated, including showers. Paul found this inspirational slate

No comments:

Post a Comment