Day 26: O Cebreiro to Triacastela
I walked today, at different times, with a French priest and a Dutch rugby player. It is one of the priceless joys of the Camino, the camaraderie that walking the same walk inspires in such disparate groups of people. The French priest and I can barely find a language in common but we travel roughly the same etapas (stages) and so have found ways to communicate. The Dutch guy I have spoken to on a few occasions and today we had an enjoyable discussion about rugby as we walked the last 8km or so of the day.
At 23km today’s walk was almost effortless. I know it was 23km because, here in Galicia (pronounce that Ga-ly-thee-ah) they have big stone way markers every 500 metres that count us down to Santiago. I hate them. I don’t want a countdown, every kilometer closer is my Camino coming closer to an end. Who would have thought that after over 650km I would still be enjoying the walking so much?
Today had a couple of short, sharp hikes but mostly just undulating hills through spectacular mountain scenery. Just a beautiful day’s walk. It started with a spectacular sunrise with the sky glowing orange behind pitch black mountains slowly bringing to light mountain tops that poked through shrouds of mist making them look like islands in the sea. From there the day meandered alongside fields of heather, paths made of shale and quartz and views spectacular enough to entertain anyone. We stopped several times for coffee and to enjoy the spectacularly beautiful walk. It was the last day my Lithuanian friend and I will walk together as she slows down to meet a friend and I speed up a little to get to Santiago by the 31st. I’ll miss her company as her intelligence and good nature made for a great walking companion.
When we arrived at our destination, the small, but longish, town of Triacastela, we were directed to a great Albergue by the French priest (spotless, spacious – at the end of town) which made for a nice end to the walking day. After obligatory washing duties we went out for a lunch to a cafe at the start of the town to see if we could see people we knew coming in. We were missing familiar faces with all the newcomers on the trail 😦
Within half an hour we’d greeted a friend from Barcelona that we’d travelled with for awhile, my two Portuguese foot heeling friends from yesterday, an Italian friend, another friend from Valencia and ended up making a new friend in an Italian doctor. Camino friendships are easily made and are one of the many reasons it is a special type of holiday.
I spent the afternoon chatting over wine and beer with friends. The Italian doctor noticed my foot and kindly examined it, after a bit of poking, peering and prodding at it he assured me it was not infected or likely to become infected so that’s taken away my main concern with the foot. Walking on sandals has proven reasonably comfortable and the blister doesn’t impinge on my day’s enjoyment. Tonight I’ll meet with my friends again and we’ll have a few vino tintos or cañas. As I see the end of the Camino draw nearer I am trying to ensure I appreciate these last few days as much as I can.
This afternoon the French priest gave me an English copy of a speech the local parish priest had put together about the Camino. I think the French priest is well aware I’m not religious but felt I would enjoy some aspects of the local parish priest’s take on the Camino. He was right, I did. I was particularly taken with the following which encapsulates a core part of the Camino;
“The Pilgrimage to Santiago is a journey Universality [sic], in which we all feel as one and each feels a part of a small travelling universe, beyond the confines of nationalism.”
— Posted from my phone