Final week!!!!! The previous 2 days have been nothing but spectacular in all areas. We left Villafranca on a cold clear morning following a river throughout most of the day. The sounds of the water steadily flowing, cascading over rocks was soothing. Prior to this, the only sounds of nature were the chirping of early morning birds and the occassional bleating of a sheep, mooing of a cow and a daily cock-a-doodle-doo from a rooster. We followed this rver into the mountains where our map indicates it begins. And the mountains is where we climbed from 580 meters to our destination at 1300 meters. All day we passed through tiny remote mountain villages, neatly kept and all supporting the pilgrims with bars, restaurents and albergues. Prior to our final resting place we passed into the Galicia (pronounced, Galithia).
We arrived at our destination in O´Cebreiro, where their church is one of the earliest surviving buildings on the Camino. This church also marks the resting place of Don Elias Valina Sampedro (1929-1989) the parish priest who did so much during his lifetime to restore and preserve the integrity of the route – it was his idea to mark the Way with the familiar yellow arrow. And from a previous post, you know how valuable these arrows are! We could not imagine how we would survive one day without the yellow arrows.
Coming out of a wooded mountain path into the remote, and I mean remote, mountain village, we were greeted by dozens of cars, motorcycles and many tourist!! It reminded me of hiking of Mt Washington and after the long extant of the boulder fields you finally arrive at the summit greeted with 100´s of tourist who found another way to arrive at the summit. Nonetheless, it was exquisitely charming and after 29km we were happy to be at our resting place.
By now you know our usua. However, so happy to be there and hungry and some little shops to browse we walked the 100meters back into the village for an early dinner of veg soup, trout, fries and Santiago tart and vino!! After 2 glasses I was ready for siesta!
The municiple albergue slept 104 and some pilgrims did not arrive in time for a bed. Unsure where they went but it was 3-5km in either direction to find a bunk.
Today leaving our mountain albergue walking out into a cool 40´s and starlit morning we headed down and down in the dark. As dawn came so did the clouds rise up from the valley but as morning came so did a brilliant sun.
Last night I had a dream of a childhood friend, Albert. First thing out of the albergue we met a man from Spain, a professor at the university in Santiago, without a light. It would have been nearly impossible to find one´s way without a headlamp or flashlight. His name too was Albert! I think we were his angels to help guide his Way.
As beautiful as the mountain walk was yeasterday, today´s walk surpassed it in beauty. All day just spectacular views of high green pastures and mountains silhouted in the distance, followed by narrow tree lined, moss covered ancient stone walls.
We passed through Triacastela, but from high above we could see limestone quarries. We have learned from our trusty guide and John Brierly that these quarries provided the limestone used in the building of the Santiago Cathedral. Medieval pilgrims would carry as much as they were able to the lime kilns in Castenada. Fortunately we escaped the extra weight!
Tonight´s rest, after an extra unplanned 13 km (total 33.5km)is in a tiny village, but maybe not even a village. This area has stone houses darting the way. They are livestock farms and we decided tonight to stay in a pension (B & B) We hear and smell the cows! yes it feels extravegant but a private room feels like a nice change for our FINAL WEEK!! I do like saying that!
Those new to the blog: Please click “ABOUT” or read our earlier posts to learn what the Camino de Santiago is and to learn more about the Pygmy Pilgrimage.
Dominique Bikaba is the contact person in the DR Congo for the Pygmy land Project and friend to the Pygmies. Click the link to learn more about Dominque. Go to the ABOUT page of our blog to learn more about Empower Congo Woman. They are the non-profit organization for recieving donations for the Pygmy Pilgrimage.
Emily is on her 3rd book. I barely finished one tiny book, “All God´s Children Need Walking Shoes”, by Maya Angelou. Thank you Carol for giving this book to me just prior to leaving for the pilgrimage. In the first days, I´d read before siesta but only get through 2 pages before “crashing” into a deep sleep. That night I´d re-read those pages and maybe get one more ahead. I was exhausted those early days. Finally I was able to read more pages and remember what I read and finished the book. I mention this book because it was during Maya Angelou´s time in Ghana during which Dr Martin Luther King´s march was in Wash. DC.
So much time during the day for reflection and contemplation. Dr King, among others, were the voice of the African Americans. Dominique Bikaba is the voice of the Pygmies. So fortunate that Betty and Margaret heard that voice and began the Pygmy Land Project. Thank you again to all; family, friends and pilgrims who also heard that voice.
Buen Camino and much amor,
Donna and Emily xoxo