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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

50kms to go - from Melide

Hola amigos! - from Judith,
Well, here I am sitting (finally) in an internet cafe with only 50 km to walk before arriving in Santiago de Compostella. We have entered the third section of the trip, from the town of Sarria to Santiago .... the critical 100 kms that one must walk before receiving one´s religious certificate or "Compostela."

Well ... I hate to admit it but I will be receiving a "tourista" certificate because I took a cab for part of the journey between Morgade and Portomarin. Both Christine and I will take that and Sylvia as well because she is a Buddhist and does not walk for "religious" reasons. hen I heard that I felt better. She has walked the Camino multiple times! 

And today, as I was walking I saw a blind man with a walking stick in one hand and a sweeping cane in the other and I thought to myself, "Yes, there are people who are truly deserving of this compostella. Their faith allows them to achieve miraculous things."
Christine is taking this very badly, but her health simply does not allow her to walk up to 25 kms a day. In Morgade, I stayed with her for moral support as she was very depressed. While we were waiting to call a cab, a Hungarian couple asked for her help in organizing their return home due to a death in the family.
Christine was the only one there able to speak three languages and get it all sorted for them. I thought to myself then that there is a reason for everything. In her own way she provided a minor miracle for this couple.
Prior to our arrival in Sarria we went as a group, by small bus up to the mountain top village of O Cebreiro ...
high above the clouds, to visit a 12th century church, resting place of The Holy Grail.  It is a remarkable village, only about 20 houses, many of Celtic origin, the round stone thatched Galician style. Altogether a bit of an Indiana Jones experience. Yes ... I did see the true grail (one of them .. the other is in Valencia !)
The bus dropped us off in Sarria in the afternoon and we walked 13 kms to Morgade (a hamlet of about 2 houses!) through very rural, very noxious smelling roads ... lots of cow dung and fields fertilized with pig manure and urine. In fact, the whole of this section has been primarily rural, with the paths running through farms and fields, sometimes shaded by large oak and chestnut trees.
 Sometimes I want to shout "The sky is falling! The sky is falling!" as the breezes knock down showers of acorns and chestnuts on to our heads!" The scenery would be very familiar to New Brunswickers ... it looks  like the land and hills around Hampton and Sussex . The South Africans are enchanted with this ... I am rather bored as it seems so familiar and I miss all the little towns. Most named places are simply hamlets with one or two farms.
Now that we are in Galicia and getting closer to the sea the temperatures are cooler. The next big city will be Santigo itself.
All in all I have enjoyed the larger Spanish cities most of all ... the architecture, historical churches, lively squares and noisy night life ... not to mention the tapas bars and the wine and food. Pamplona , Viana , Leon and Burgos certainly stand out.
 Pamplona
 Logroño
 Burgos
 León
Astorga
 I haven´t been a terribly good correspondent because many days I was simply too tired after walking in 35 degree temperatures and not feeling up to hunting for an internet cafe.
A lot of my trip has sort of blurred into a single impression of hot, dry dusty roads with agonizingly brutal downhill stretches on rubbly roads and trails.
 There were certainly days when I wanted to pack it all in. However, I walked until I couldn´t walk any more and if it was possible I called for a cab to finish the last few kilometers.
 As a result my feet and knees are still in good condition. There were days however when I had no alternative but to walk on in my very slow manner until I got to my destination, sometimes after 12 hours ... worried about heat exhaustion and running out of water.
 Sadly, after all of this I seem to have shed very few pounds. The pilgrims fare is unusually starchy ... bread, cheese, smoked ham. Dry toast with coffee in the morning, an omellette on baguette for lunch and some sort of mixed salad or fish dish in the evening. Very few fresh vegetables.
 Today, as I am now in the Galician region renowned for its seafood I had octopus ,boiled and then chopped up and seasoned with a spiced olive oil, for lunch. "Interesting"! Bought a bottle of the areas famous white wine  Ribeiro to share with the others tonight.
Sylvia has done an excellent job in choosing our accomodations ... usually two to a room with an ensuite shower and sometimes a tub. So we haven´t really been roughing it by sharing accomodation in large albergues where there can be as many as 100 other pilgrims sleeping in bunks! So I really have been a Pampered Pilgrim and when I get home I hope to download my photos and compose a more descriptive blog with that title. Now , my time is about to run out and I must go . Will write agian from Santiago ...Judy

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