May 13,2016. Friday
I went to bed last night with every intention of transporting my backpack to Saria and walking there. (About 12 miles) I knew it was going to rain, and I knew the path was muddy, but I felt it was time to get back on the Camino. My shin splint was still tender, but the doctor said I wouldn’t cause any permanent damage.
However, it got complicated with my kind, generous and most helpful hostess Olga. I had already called for transport for my backpack, but in our inability to communicate properly, she wanted to handle everything for me. It seemed the only way to handle this without insulting her was to not transport my backpack – just take a taxi to Sarria with my backpack and “regroup.”
And that is what I did, which was probably the best thing to do for my body. I wanted to walk those 12 miles and not take the easy route. I also wanted to walk through Samos, about 3 miles longer to see the Monastery there. The Monasterio de Samos is one of the oldest (6th century) and largest monasteries in the western world. One of the pilgrims told me that the murals inside the monasteries were painted in the 1960’s and all of the females in the religious paintings are modeled after Sophia Loren. Instead I saw the outside of it as my taxi drove by it.
I arrived too soon to check into Hotel Alfonso, but they let me leave my backpack there asI left to wander around the city. Map in hand, I followed the Camino route into the old city.
It was about 10 am, cold,damp, threatening to rain – but I was excited to explore.
I wondered where all the pereginos were, the cafes were still empty and few were on the street. A friendly man started talking to me and I spent the next hour with him and his family. I can’t remember all their first names, but their last names was all “Sees.” It was four siblings and their spouses traveling together. One of the brothers was a chiropractor and we had a good discussion about shin splints. Actually a lot of the hour was talking about how so many people in their party were injured and limping along. I felt right at home, The were mostly all from the San Francisco area. Their Camino started in Leon, they were taking a ay of rest in Sarria and were staying in private rooms. They were also very fast walkers and made fun of the people getting in late (like me).
This part of the old town was filled with alberques, cafes, and stores to serve the pilgrims. Some looked modern, some old, but what was obvious is that there were many in a small area. I imagined the evenings were a lot of fun here. After stoping in a near empty cafe to get something to drink and use their WIFI it was time to walk back to my hotels check in.
Back out on the street, this time I explored the modern side of the city (the eastern side). The part that I saw was laid out in a more rectangular fashion than Leon and I didn’t have any trouble finding my way around. I was window shopping in a modern city with modern wares. I was delighted to find a vegetarian restaurant. The people running it all spoke English and we had entertaining and exciting discussions of their lives and travels as they served me the best salad I have had in weeks.A peregrino carries a “credential,” or a peregrino passport. We have it stamped where we spend the night
eat, or places we visit. The officials at Santiago will look at it to know where we have been when they issue the “Compostela” – or the final certificate to show we completed at the last 100 km of the Camino de Santiago. My passport is getting full and I need an additional one, so I knew I would have to go back to the old city to go to the church or the monastery to obain one. The problem is by now it was siesta time and everything was closed. Still I wandered around empty streets looking at the old ancient buildings and closed buildings.
I continued to wander up the street and come to the ruins of one of the four castles of Sarria. I walked all around it and could not find an entrance, even if it was closed. It didn’t looked like a protected historical site but more like an abandoned building with a decaying fence around it. It looked like anyone could easily jump the fence to get in what looked to be a very unkept area.
I then went over to the monastery, knowing it would probably be closed – but still hoping to get my new credential. Yes, it was closed, I will have to go back tomorrow. The Mosteiro da Madalena was originally instituted in the 13th century, later coming under Augustinian rule.
It was getting past 4 pm, siesta should be over, but the area was still void of activity. I had the strangest encounter. I approached an old man sitting on a bench alone. As I got near him. He stood up and asked if I was a pereginoa. When I said yes, he grapped my face and started kissing me on both cheeks. He was saying a lot, but I couldn’t understand his Spanish, he was speaking so quickly. I heard the word “guapa” and didn’t know if that was good or bad . . . but he wouldn’t let me go. I kept saying “No intiendo”. (I don’t understand) – but it was like he was in a trance – kissing me on the cheek and maybe trying to hold me still so he could kiss me on the lips. I was never afraid-he was so frail I could have pushed him over and gotten away – but I didn’t want to do that. I didn’t want to hurt him. I kept saying “Dios”” (God) trying to appeal to the Angels inside him and what I was presuming was his religious inheritance, but he kept saying “”guapa.” Finally with all my strength and yet with gentlenes,I took both of my hands and shoved him back on the bench, hugged him pushed myself away and said “Adios.” It was just strange, I wasn’t shaken when I walked away, in fact I took a view of the city from a stone cruceiro while he was still sitting there staring out in space.
With the streets still quite empty until about 6 pm, I wandered back to my large empty, spacious hotel room and grande bath tub, ending a day of history, interesting moments, people and mostly gratitude for my health and safety. I looked up guapa – it is an interesting Spanish word. It was a compliment.