Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Day 5 O Cebreiro to Triacastela: Pilgrims in the Mists

The road ahead--like life--unknown and shrouded in mists"
O Cebreiro was a beautiful location and the beginning of my camino. And like a kid waiting for Christmas, I woke up at 5 AM in anticipation of the coming day...and couldn't go back to sleep. But that's okay. I have been planning this journey for 2 years. Ever since the day my friend, Elaine Lebas had watched the movie, The Way, and asked me if I would be willing to do the walk with her. Even though I didn't see the movie myself until about a year and half later, I was possessed with the thought of this ancient pilgrimage..walking the same steps that counterparts did in medieval Europe. And probably with a lot cushier surroundings, at that.
We got up at a decent hour, had our breakfast and hit the camino about 9 am. There weren't too many people starting. We were the "tweeners." After the early risers, before the bicyclists and those in need of a bit more sleep.
Misty morning Pablo at the second highest point of the day.
Before we went to bed Monday night, Paul read two things: (1) the weather forecast: sunny and clear and 72 degrees and (2) beautiful views from O Cebreiro to Alto de Poio, the highest spot of the day.
As you see here, maybe the weatherman here isn't so much better than the one at home :) and the views, although likely spectacular, weren't visible for the first several hours. We felt fortunate to get the beautiful views last night.
After hiking for an hour, we arrived at the statue of the pilgrim.
Monkey see, monkey do
And this is what we saw:
The view---fogged out on the top of the hike!
But we motored on. There were some uphill segments but the theme for the day was the 2000 feet of descent from 4400 feet to 2400 feet into Triacastela. It did clear visibly during the day.
Starting to clear about 11 am.
For the most part, we walked in solitude, enjoying the cool morning, the occasional breeze, the cows and dogs and the feel of light misty rains on our faces. Occasionally, we would pass a group and things would get loud for a few minutes until we passed by. They all seemed to be having fun and to be quite an international crowd. I knew we passed a group of about 12 Brits when I walked past a guy who said, "Right when I was walking out of the bleeding car park..." As we got close to Triacastela, our destination for the night, we also ran into a lot of folks forging their way to the rest stop...and the beers.
Paul in solitude

About noon, as we were fully in descent for a while, the sky cleared and we saw the beautiful hills and valleys.
Still trying to clear. Alot of this reminds us of the Appalachians. Ups and downs and green.

As good as it got!
Unlike the coast to coast trail across England or the hike across Andorra, we are sporadically passing through villages throughout the day. Today we passed through about 5 villages.At Hospital da Condesa, we stopped for a diet coke.  In one of them, a pensioner was making a living selling crepes on the camino. Paul bought one and it was yummy. We were able to stop in the village, As Pasantes for a beautiful lunch. These villages all most likely have well under a hundred people living there.
A lovely lunch at As Pasantes.
By lunch time, we were about 11.5 miles into our 14 mile trek. The lunch was a welcome respite from walking for about 45 minutes. Then we were off toward Triacastela. We could eventually see it from about 2 miles away.
Triacastela from the distance. White buildings and slate rooves. 
It definitely caused a smile for these pilgrims! Although we were not "weary," our legs were not opposed to the end of a happy trail.
All smiles at 13 miles!
We made our way into Triacastela. The name means three castles, but the best anyone can tell there are no castles. They may be gone, although there isn't a trace. Some scholars think it is a misinterpretation of words that mean instead "toward Castille." The town is home to about 900 people...about 900% more than the town of O Cebreiro.  We loved the whitewash buildings and the narrow lanes.
The church was unfortunately closed today :(
Triacastela's 18th century church: Iglesia de Santiago. It replaces a Romanesque structure. CLOSED today?
Casa David: Our gentle home for the evening
We found our way to our "hotel" for the evening: Casa David. We have a nice private cubicle of sorts with twin beds: Laura and Rob Petrie strike again! But we are so "blessed" to have it. Most of our campadres on the walk are sleeping in big open air dorms...full of snorers, farters ...wait, I guess it's no different here!
Our end of the walk daily tradition: Beer! And a book in this case. Paul peruses perambulations.
We then followed another tradition. Back to the room for a shower and a nap before dinner. We ate at a lovely place called Restaurante Esther which we highly recommend to the future peregrinos for the great food, exuberant service, low prices and the amazing view of the sunset.

We split a pilgrim meal which in most establishments is two courses for 10 euros. Here we have the charceuterie.

The day fading in Triacastela.

A wonderful Rioja wine. El Coto, the elk for about $10 US. You can get this in some parts of USA for same price.

Overall a very amazing day, a nice hike of 14 miles and at the end, the treasure of Triacastela, a village of 900 that we would never dream to visit any other way.  To quote Ina Garten: What's not to like?

Daily meditation: 
In two parts. We remembered my mom whose 90th birthday is today. She passed away in 2011. Paul remembered that she was still for the most part taking care of herself, doing her laundry and most household chores, active and attending her church until almost the day she died. He also was grateful that she came to our engagement party a few days before her passing. I remembered that my mom sewed toes into hose at a factory when we first moved to Chattanooga to pay my brother's college tuition and how determined she was that we get a good education. It's a gift that never stops paying off.
We then read about the namesake of the Camino, St. James, patron saint of Spain. Paul's observations were that he was beheaded by Herod. And that he was passionate about his beliefs. He correlated this to a recent event in Syria with the destruction of the ancient ruins of Palmyra. This site has been seen over by a professor for many years and when he refused to divulge any of its secret contents to ISIS, the cowards beheaded him and hung him from its columns. Paul said he had the courage of St. James.  My observation is that when Christ passed by James and his brother John fishing on the sea of Galilee with their father he said, "Come follow me." And they did. He had little to offer them other than a philosophy. Their father was reasonably well off for the day and they left to follow an itinerant preacher with no absolute credentials. How many of us today have the gonadal fortitude to leave everything behind to follow an idea? Courage indeed. We have very little reason to believe St. James was ever in Spain, but it is an honor and privilege  to walk in the beautiful way of ancient pilgrims honoring a man of valor.


We started in mist and ended in sunshine, which is a great metaphor for the entire day.   The hike flew by -- 14 miles -- which I guess means we are in shape.   We were in Triacastela by 3 pm.   We'll see how the rest of it goes!   We watched the sun go down from the porch at Restaurant Esther, which is highly recommended.   We could not be luckier to be where we are right now, enjoying the moment.   Good walk, good food, good times, good fun.

We averaged about 2.9 mph walking, with a fair amount of steep downhill, which is a fairly brisk pace for 14 miles and change.   The overall descent was about about 2000 feet from the high point of the hike.   By 11:15 pm local, our feet and bodies felt pretty good after a good rest and dinner, which is a good sign.

Tomorrow has more ascent than today, so we'll see how it goes.   But, we are 14 miles into 100 as of this moment.

Note to Chad Helms:  I changed my shirt :-)

Weather continues to look promising for the rest of this week -- wish us continued luck!

No comments:

Post a Comment