TREKKING — DAY 30

O’CEBREIRO to TRIACASTELA — 14 Miles

It still felt like Winter as I walked outside into the heavy mist that hung in the air.  Although it was 7:30am, nothing was open in this little village so it was no use trying to get any cafe con leche before starting today’s trek.  The place seemed deserted.  Dick and I stood there a few moments until finally I saw a Trekker pass by and I quickly followed him.

I thought today would be mostly downhill and that it would follow a lot of the highway so there wouldn’t be much mud.  Boy was I wrong on both counts.  Immediately upon leaving the village of O’Cebreiro I was going uphill and walking in mud.  I was carrying my full 20 pound pack because I thought it would be such an easy day but I was huffing and puffing from the get-go!

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The terrain continued uphill and the mud got even worse.

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I had worn my down jacket with hood and my leaky raincoat over that.  I really couldn’t tell if it was raining but when I touched my hair and the hood of the down jacket they were completely wet.

Luckily I had my poncho tucked in the front of my jacket so it was easy to pull it out and slip it on over everything.  I was so looking forward to taking photos of the countryside this morning but because of the dense fog I couldn’t see more than 50 feet ahead of myself.  The muddy path continued with lots more uphill than I expected so I was ready to stop for a break by the time I came to the first village, about 3 miles away.  That’s when I packed away the wet down jacket and changed into my fleece jacket, then covered that with the leaky raincoat and put the wet poncho back on over everything.  It was nice having my full pack with me so I had everything handy.

The terrain started going up and downhill but the mud continued.

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When I came to this person trying to dodge the mud I knew I couldn’t do it so I back tracked to a spot where I could get on the highway.  And I loved walking on that blacktop!  The crazy thing was that while the road stayed at a slight decline, the path to my right kept going up and down.  Sometimes it would be at highway level and sometimes it was 30 or 40 feet above that.  But why?  I was soooo glad to be on the highway even though it was a little more dangerous.

Below is a huge statue that was across the highway from me.  When trekkers stood there to have their photo taken their heads came up to its knee.  It’s probably my favorite photo of the day.

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After walking about 7 miles Dick texted me to meet for coffee.  I told him I was on the road and asked if the road would take me into the village where he was.  He didn’t answer that question.  All of a sudden he texted and said I had passed the village.  How could I have?  The path was to my right (I thought) and I hadn’t seen any village.  Just then I got a text from Tim and Joanne Joseph who were vacationing in Portugal and they were following me on Find My Friends.  They told me the village was up ahead and that I hadn’t passed it!  That made me feel so much better.  This technology!

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Looking glum as Dick met me coming into the village.  This was the first time I had worn the poncho and I thought it was so cool that the blue poncho matched my blue 99 Cent Store gloves.  That perked me up right away!

After half a banana, some fresh squeezed orange juice and tons of water I set out again.  Shortly I came upon a little old lady standing by the side of the path passing out tortillas.  Actually it was more like a crepe that she put a couple grains of sugar on, then folded it and handed it to me.  She was so cute.  I gave her a Euro and admired her tenacity — tending to trekkers while making an income for herself.

At this point I had to stay on the path because the road zigzagged around before it reached Triacastela.  The fog still hung heavily in the air and it was still hard to see or photograph anything.

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It was downhill for the next 6 miles and with all the mud I went a little slower because I didn’t want to slip and fall.  Finally things cleared and daylight opened up.

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It had been 6 hours of walking in ugly conditions and I was so glad when I finally saw Dick and we checked into our Hostel called Casa David.  No blow dryer but the room was slightly bigger than yesterday and the hot shower felt great!

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Lunch was even better with steak and this beautiful salad.

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It’s a funny thing about the “Menu del Dia” that we have every day after I finish walking.  For 10 Euros per person you get a starter course, like this salad, a Main Course, like Steak and a dessert.  You also get bread and, get this — either a bottle of water or a bottle of wine.  Now which would you choose???

TREKKING — DAY 29

VILLAFRANCA to HERRERIAS — 12.5 Miles                              HERRERIAS to O’CEBREIRO — 5 Miles

This morning I lay in bed wondering how far I’d be able to walk today and if I’d have the strength to do it. I had finally eaten some solid food yesterday, after 2 days of a liquid diet so I was getting my strength back.  My stomach problem had been solved and I knew I had to get back out and start walking again.

It was 48 degrees and Dick told me it would be cloudy with no rain. However, when I arrived at the starting point of today’s walk it started to rain. Good thing I had my rain pants handy so I quickly slipped them on.

Now that we were out of the Meseta and into the mountains the terrain had changed and the views were magnificent. There were two routes to choose from to get to Herrerias. One was up over a mountain and the other was around the mountain but bordered a remote road. I knew the mountain would not only be muddy but would kill me trying to climb it. So I stayed on the path next to the road, which was the original Camino path. And I thought it was breathtakingly beautiful.

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The rain wasn’t bad, it even stopped at times while a heavy mist clung in the air. But the best part was, the path wasn’t muddy. It ran alongside a little river sporting white water rapids or the occasional little waterfall and a swift current. The sound of the river, along with the chirping of birds and the beautiful scenery took my mind off the fact that I was walking next to a road. Because this was a secondary road I hardly ever saw any cars. And the one thing I was loving was — walking alone.

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For some reason there seemed to be more trekkers than I was used to seeing, some walking alone, some in pairs and some in groups. I was walking slower today than I normally did but I was enjoying every minute of it. There were several little villages to walk through, some that seemed like old ghost towns and others lively with trekkers and Bars open for trade.

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When Dick texted me and said we could have coffee in the next village I couldn’t believe I had already walked 8 miles. When I met him we walked into a little bar that was filled with loud trekkers and I decided I didn’t need any coffee, just a little break.

There was a statue outside the Bar with a special sign below it and as I was standing there another young girl standing next to me pointed to the sign, looked at me, I started clapping then we both started squealing and jumping up and down with delight. We never said another word to each other!

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The walk continued on, through little villages and as trekkers we seemed to spread out and I felt like I was walking alone again.

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After 12 miles of walking I had had enough for the day. The path would now go up a pretty steep mountain for the next 5 miles and I knew I couldn’t do it. But Dick had made hotel reservations at the top of that mountain in the village of O’Cebreiro. My Camino Concierge needed to come get me and drive me up there. This morning I had told him to get us a large Hotel room, that was nice and warm with heat, had 2 big beds and a blow dryer in the bathroom. And he was to look at the room to make sure it had all of that before he paid for it. So here’s what he did. He went to the O’Cebreiro Hotel Rustico, booked a room, with one double bed, and paid for it without looking at it. And here it is.

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It was freezing cold with no heat  and no hair dryer in the bathroom. And the bathroom was so small there was no place to put the toilet paper except on the lid of the toilet tank.  And the pillow!  There was only one long pillow stretched across the bed.

Dick loved this whole 1 block long little village and when we were about to eat lunch he said he felt like it was Christmas. Christmas? It felt like Winter to me, it was freezing, it was raining and you could see your breath outside. But I was very happy that he was even able to get us a room here because everything else was sold out (or so he said!).

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This is the village church that dates back to the 9th century.

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We had read about a priest, Father Don Elias Valina Sampedro  who was the parish priest at this church.  It was his idea to mark the Camino with the familiar yellow arrows.  And I believe that without these arrows not many people would be walking the Camino today.  He also restored the building where Dick and I were staying.  He passed away in 1989, is buried there and his bust sits outside the church.

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We walked into the church a little later that evening and I realized Mass was about to start.  So we decided to stay.  It was said in Latin and Spanish with a small part in English.   At the end of Mass there was a celebratory blessing for all of us walking the Camino.