Saturday, 23 April 2016

Camino Frances Day 7

The albergue had a fully furnished kitchen so for the first time since the walk, I cooked my own meal- spiral pasta, chorizo and Italian sauce, stuff I bought from the neighborhood mercado. The food did not taste as awesome as I would have expected –perhaps it lacked parmesan cheese? - but considering that I was in a countryside of Spain it was already admirable.

There were only 2 rooms in the albergue which was on the 2nd floor of a bar. Each room had 4 double deck beds. I occupied the bottom bunk near the door. The guy who occupied the bottom bunk across me noticed the way I hobbled so he shared some stretching exercises. He experienced the same thing in the early part of the camino. Eugene was his name, from Gerona. I somehow remembered him walking by the other day in Ponferrada.

I prepared a hot choco for myself in the morning and ate the leftover pasta from my dinner. I had some small talk with a mom and daughter from Germany who were on their second day of the walk.

It was a quarter before 8 when I stepped of the albergue, but it was still dark.  The path all the time seemed intuitive but it went directly into a highway without any sidewalk on either side. I thought I missed a turn somewhere but I did not recall seeing any yellow sign for the last kilometre or so. Since I was not so sure I retraced my steps. I think went back 2 kilometres before meeting a pair of pilgrims who told me that I had the correct route all along. Crap. Whatever headstart I had that day was gone. I felt like banging my head for the wasted effort and time.

It did not help that by then it was raining steadily. My feet was already getting damp and that was the last dry pair of socks I've had.

This was probably the worst part of my camino in terms of signage. I took a shot of this to warn future pilgrims to take note of this place so they won't get lost. Though it didn’t appear like a path, it actually is and the pilgrim is just expected to walk on the side of the highway. A bit unsafe if you think about it.

I made a stop at La Portela de Valcarce to massage my feet and wait for the rain to stop. It didn't. I had no choice but to trudge on. The weight of my backpack it seemed had gotten heavier though the days. I saw the German mom and daughter passed by and made a stop. I was wondering if the mother was already having second thoughts of finishing the Camino.

The rainy weather exacerbated my already surly mood. A scene of a pumpkin head, the iconic reminder of Halloween reminded me that this part of the world was influenced by the US or wherever the Jack O’ Lantern originated.

I saw some cows grazing on the fields, the sound of their bells was a welcome break from the monotonous sound of my footsteps and the dragging of my walking stick. There was nothing much fancy along this part of the route and judging from the photos I took ever since I left Trabadelo there weren’t really much noting.

By 11 am, I entered Ruitelan. I have traveled only 9 kilometers since I started, which was absurdly slow. I was still sore from the fact that I wasted precious time earlier when I retraced my steps. I was irritable because my damp socks were a bit uncomfortable.

I think I had read earlier in the walk that the next part would be ascending. So I made an unscheduled stop right before the start of the incline.

I saw again the green-eyed guy who slept across my bed in Rabanal Del Camino. He joked that he’ll probably just take a cab from there because of the weather.  I learned he was Irish, that explained his sense of humor. I can't recall it now his name but it sounded like Oren.

On the way I saw this defunct Laundromat now serving as a flower bed. A weird thought occurred to me. Our bodies will definitely serve a different function when we die, fertilizer for the grass and the wildflowers. For some reason this walk made me contemplate more about death.

I had to look at the app to estimate where the next stop would be. Somehow now I was more concerned of arriving at the intended destination that I failed to totally immerse myself in the present and enjoy the journey for what it was. But I know that it is different now viewing the whole experience  through the photos from my phone and in the comforts of my home rather than being there, having the raw feeling of the weight on your shoulders and your aching body that longed for a good relaxing rest.

The Camino is a great opportunity to meet random strangers. People who would most likely appear in your lifetime once. A point like intersection of two lines in a space.  Then each one moving on to their disparate destinies.

But I saw this message of one pilgrim scribbled on a stone. I presumed he was hoping against hope that the intended recipient got to read the message. Perhaps they met earlier along the path or engaged in a chit-chat at an albergue. Perhaps destiny intended them to be just random passers by in their own stories. And yet now this pilgrim was exercising his will to ensure that another encounter would happen again. Perhaps fate could bend its will for their paths to cross again?

I took a photo of this moss that seemed to be out of place amidst the decaying brown and yellow leaves. It might die in a week or so as it lay on the path of trekkers. It just seemed out of it place, so exquisite yet so fragile. Part of me was somehow mourning that its beauty alas would be fleeting. 

Before I got on any more sentimental (I guess I would have to blame the bleak weather for that) I came upon a bar in La Faba. It was past 1 already and the next major stop was still 4 kilometers so I decided to have my lunch here. The bar only served vegetarian dish and since there were no other bars in the area I decided to settle with crepe with cheese and basil. It was not bad actually despite the lack of meat. Like any cool hippie vegetarian bars this one is replete of its words of wisdom to share. Though I am not sure of its translation in English the quote on the door reminded me to enjoy the magic of the moment.

The view after La Faba was surprisingly majestic. The rain has stopped for a bit so I was able to get a lot of panoramic shots. I was already back to my jolly self in this part of the walk.  A Spanish pilgrim (if I recall correctly he was from the Andalusian region) so I asked him to take a shot of me.

I passed by a couple of farmlands each with a herd of cows with bells on them. I noticed a tag placed on each ear of the bovine creature, identifier for the owner I presume. Do they know which one is due for slaughter based on the tag number? I had a weird thought. Does our Supreme Being also assign us a tag number watching us from a distance. Each of going about our daily routine oblivious to the watchful eye. And then one day the Almighty just decides ok Number 2323 you're time is up.

A quarter past three I finally passed by the boundary of Lugo and Galicia. A colorful marker stood to signify it. I could hear the rumbling of cars from just above ahead signifying that I was nearing a town center.

I reached O Cebreiro at half past three. This was probably one of the majestic views I've had of the walk. The stop was a town nestled atop a hill with an almost 360 view of the surrounding villages. Its structures are built of stones to withstand the strong winds and the biting cold. Judging from the howling of the winds I could only imagine how harsh the winter might be on this place.

There was an air of melancholy about the place, I was almost enticed to settle for good and abandon my intended destination.

I felt like I could hear the booming voice of God from the expanse that seemed to swallow me.

And though I only travelled about 19 kilometers for the day I decided to stay at O Cebreiro for the night.

1 comment:

  1. I'm glad God is more involved in our lives than just noticing us when our number is up. :D