May 11, 2016 Wednesday Walked 15 miles to Hospital de la Condesa Started at 8am and arrived at 3:30 p.m.
Took a taxi to Triacastela, arrived at my home for the night at 5:45 p.m.
What a day!
Today started out with low expectations. Any timeI have to climb hills, I am concentrating on that one thing. Just make it to the top. I purposely did not plan to walk as far as Mary and Sofie because I am ahead of schedule to get to Sarria by Saturday. I chose the little village of Hosptial de la Condesa and tried to make reservations, but there were none in the town. The lady who ran the albergue where I was staying in Vega de Valcarce went out of her way to try and find one for me. I would have to take the chance.
Mary and Sofie started minutes before me but I never saw them again. J from Brazil started with me but I told her to walk her own pace as I would mine. She is nearly 40 years younger than me. I really enjoy her company but I was putting all of my effort into getting to O’Cebreiro. She stayed with me all the way to O’Cebreiro. I dressed lighter than I normally do. I am always so cold in the morning I overdress and then have the weight of the clothes to deal with. I started out wearing only two thin shirts and a wind breaker but carried my rain gear in my backpack although rain was not forecasted until the mid afternoon.
Vega de Valcarce is at an elevation of about 2,000 feet. Our Camino started on an old asphalt road and in the first 2 1/2 miles we had gained 313 feet to the village of Herrerias. Then things changed. We left the road and hit started up a muddy path as it has rained most of the night.We would continue for the next 5miles from an elevation of 2313 to 4,265 feet as we entered Galicia at O’Cebreiro.
Without time pressure, it was a lovely day. We stopped often in villages, or to see the breath taking view of the valley below us or maybe to catch our breath as everyone passed us up including a group of pilgrims reaching the mountain top on horses.
It was not really warm by San Diego standards, but it was sunny and I was warm from climbing. We stopped atone cafe in La Faba thatIespeciall liked. Itlookedlikesomething right out of California with vegetarian food and everything so charming. It didn’t feel Spanish at all. I ordered fresh squeezed strawberry/orange juice. The lady behind the counter was from Brazil and explained that most of their food that they cooked for their restaurant was from their own garden. When I told her I was really a vegan and having a hard time eating properly she went and got some walnuts grown from the area to have for extra nutrition. She didn’t sell them to me, she gave them to me as a gift.
As we continued to climb we would often go by little farms and had to dodge cow manure on the trail. Often the cow manure and the mud was so mixed it was hard to dodge the 2 inch squishy mud. And it smelled like it too!
We were almost there. Our feet were aching. The pain in my right shin from a few days ago was noticeable. J from Brazil was really starting to hurt in her right shin. She had made a decision to take a taxi from O’Cebreiro to Hospital. – but first we had to get to O’Cebreiro.
And it wasn’t! The ancient town so well known to peregrinos through the centuries welcomes you with the 9th century Iglesia Santa Maria where miracles have reported to have happened and it is the final resting place of Don Elias Valina Sampedro (1929-1989) a parish priest who did so much going to restore and preserve the integrity of the Camino his during his life. He had the idea to mark the trail with the yellow arrows.
The Galicians in this area used to live in pallozas – round stone houses with thatched roofs. There still some being used in the area.
J from Braziland I had a good lunch in O’Cebreiro in a warm cafe (the wind had started blowing) and then I left her to start my walk to Hospital. The trail was empty. It was if everyone had already gone home. It was cold. I now regretted the extra coat that I did not bring. I wondered it it would start raining before I got to my destination. I climbed higher through a lovely wooded area. After I got through the wooded area the views were once again breath taking as it was very clear. As I started walking down, I noticed the pain in my shin was much worse. The next part of my day was only about 3miles but it was downhill and it was becoming increasing more painful. I couldn’t wait to get to my little village and find my bed and it was still early afternoon. Despite the pain, the lush green of Galicia was overwhelming. When I got to Hospital, chickens running through the street and the “farm” smell quite ripe – I didn’t care! I was there. No room at the inn for Geri at the municiple albergue. I went to the local hotel where my backpack had been transported. They had no rooms but free internet, so while I was on Face book complaining that I had to walk to the next village, the owner of the hotel was finding a family to put me up for the night and she was willing to take me there. Meanwhile, I decided I probably shouldn’t walk to Triacastela tomorrow like I had planned and wanted to take a taxi. The Spanish do take care of their pilgrims.
With my guide book in hand, I found someone with a room in Triacstela and was eventually welcomed into a warm private room. This pilgrim is off the Camino and giving herself a day of rest.