Saturday, November 7, 2009

O'Cebreiro to Tricastela

My goodness what a difference a few hours make -we wake up to a clear dawn and I ramble out to catch the views we missed yesterday. And they are certainly well worth both the wait and the long slog of yesterday.

A sunlit Santa Maria Real-O'Cebreiro its been welcoming pilgrims for over 1100 years
Heading out we spot 'Mr Trolley' getting ready to hit the road again-he's a very quiet nice Italian gentleman who has walked all the way from Rome, much of it on asphalt roads as his trolley isn't suitable for many sections of the off road track-which is probably why we missed him yesterday.
Knowing that having reached O'Cebreiro we have now 'done' the last really hard bit of our journey puts a spring in our step and a smile on our faces. The contrast, in both our mood and the weather, between today and yesterday couldn't be greater.

'Mr Trolley' getting ready to hit the road -O'Cebreiro
Our impression of village from last night, when it was muffled in fog, is so different from its actual dimension and shape that we get disorientated-we can find our way around in fog no problem.

An Ice cloud drifts over the village as we leave and it coats buildings, leaves and branches, and, if we weren't moving, us with a layer of frost and ice. Serving up a reminder of just how extreme the climate here can be, and how it can change in an instant.

Ice cloud-O'Cebreiro

Ice cloud and sunshine-O'Cebreiro- An iron fist in a velvet glove

A few minutes before this bush had been ice free

So it is true "Your strenuous efforts will be more than amply rewarded by the view afforded"......eventually.

The bar in Linares is shut, so we have to resort to the churchyard of San Estaban for a a quick 'natural' break. This proves to be 'una casi con una vista' with wonderful views down the valley (of course we carry tissue away with us.)
Get breakfast at Hospital de la Condesa in a lively little bar with great toast. Then, with the exception of the 'climbettes' up to Alto de San Roque and Alto do Poio, its back to strolling along gently downwards-Pilgrim bliss.

Pilgrim monument and pilgrim Nell at Alto de San Roque- Galicia laid out before us.

More 'fierce' dogs of the Camino- be afraid be very afraid if you don't look out they could lick you to death-that's if they bother to either wake up or stop playing with the other puppies!
The patterns made by the slate on the roof of all the buildings are fantastic. This church didn't have a ridge tile but the top row of tiles on one side of the roof was toothed together with that of the other side-so it looked like a friendly dragons back.

Slate patterns-Capilla de San Pedro

Morning glory-Galicia

Blister aid-its Boots off time and any 'running repairs' every 2 hours

Enjoying our second breakfast which comes with beer-all before 11 o'clock in the morning!

Frances and I loved the curvy planks used for the wall of this little shed-especially the one with twigs coming out of it-shag pile carpentry now theres a thing.
Heading down to Triacastela in the spring sunshine is a walk into paradise.The stonewalled lanes, they are called corredoiras and I can see why, are deep and dappled with light shade from oaks and chestnuts just coming into leaf.The ground underfoot is squelchy but not sticky and though the path common to both pilgrims and cattle there aren't too many flies either.

Field of wild garlic with a castellated dovecote-coming down to Paradise- Triacastela

Ancient chestnut tree-Ramil

Arriving into Triacastela we keep an eye out for the local church as Jozefine had heard that the mass there was 'good' (now that sounds odd even to me) Manage to get a funny little room. Instead of windows it has a glass 'ventilated door' however the door opens onto a sunny little yard which we bedeck with laundry in record time and step out to do the tour. Strolling up and down the sunny street nodding to pilgrims we know from way back, or have just seen for the first time today is fun and has the feel of an Italian passeggiata. Such a contrast with our arrival at O'Cebreiro yesterday.
Head to mass and the small church is charming with a shell motif on the door and a lovely statue of Santiago. The congregation arrives in dribs and drabs some having cleaned up others having just 'stepped off the road'. The priest waits at the top of the church looking out of the door- he signals to us that he's waiting for a peregrina who is just finishing a mobile phone conversation with her boyfriend and, sure enough when we listen, we can hear her giggling and flirting. When the lassie comes in he says to her -"he doesn't have long to wait you know you are nearly there!"
We all laugh but the tables are turned when he proceeds to herd each of us up from our comfort zone in the main body of the church up onto the altar and then to sit down for the service. One Italian man keeps standing up and Fr Augusto asks him "tell me are you tired?" "yes" says the pilgrim "are your feet or legs sore?" "yes" says the pilgrim "well God and Santiago would rather you sit, be tranquil and think of them than stand and think of your feet OK?" "yes" says the pilgrim with a big smile.
Fr Augusto Losada Lopez isn't your regular country parish priest and nor is the service he conducts. As he is saying the words of the consecration each of us goes to the altar breaks off piece of thick crusty country bread as our host and we share, not just a polite little sip, but a hearty warming swallow of communion wine. As 'penance' for any sins he instructs us to be kind to ourselves and to be joyous in our lives.
The service is sunlit, inclusive, thought provoking and joyful. Fr Augustos' final words of the mass are "remember God doesn't count your steps or Santiago weigh your pack- what they measure is you heart pilgrim, so look to your heart ....and take care of your feet!".

Evening sunlight streaming into Iglesia de Santiago-Triacastela just before the pilgrims mass.

The 'concelebrants' pilgrims from Austria, France, Ireland, Italy, Spain, Holland & Germany

We have brought our credencials-in fact we keep them with us pretty much all the time-and Fr Augusto stamps them for us in the church. But a rather overwrought German pilgrim has a bit of a hissy fit-her credencial is back in the albergue and she doesn't think she has time to get it before the 'church shuts'. Fr Lopez says oh don't worry picks up the sello and pretends he's going to stamp her forehead with it 'to prove shes been here'! Though of course he waits a good 20 minutes for her to come back with her credencial and stamps it, and we all chatted and laughed in the sunshine as we awaited her return.
Met up with Lydia at the mass, she is an Irish pilgrim traveling solo who has had a pretty hard time of it with illness 'up in those mountains'. Lydia is very devout and the service has really lifted her spirits. She joins us for dinner- its nice to talk with someone from 'home' and listening to her difficult Camino experiences we both feel a bit erzatz 'pilgrim wise'.
Frances suggests that, as Lydia is still so weak, she might consider a 'rest day' tomorrow and refers to the priests injunction to be kind to ourselves. Lydia thinks she might well do that and I hope she does. It would be a pity to get really ill so close to her goal.

Nell having a laugh with Father Augusto after the Pilgrims mass Triacastela.

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