October 9, 2002

10/9/02 O'Cebreiro

31 km

Felt pretty good this morning. A lot better than I had expected. Had a good breakfast of donuts and a liquid yogurt they have here in Spain. Rained all night but had stopped just for a bit as we left the refugio.

Horse grazing by a stream

Josué and I expected the road route out of Villafranca to be bad but there is a new highway so we walked the old one. Hardly saw a car on the road. The good part was it followed the river. All around us were mountains and believe it or not, we began to see some blue sky.

Walked most of the way with Josué and Max. The distance seemed to fly by as we walked gradually uphill. The only break we took was in La Faba for some hot chocolate. We left Max there as he was having a coffee with one of the older women of the village by the fire.

Max shares warm drinks by fire

The whole day was special. Kind of cool but when it rained, it only lasted a few minutes. The reward was when the golden sunlight hit the countryside. It really lit up the colors of this land. Took lots of pictures.

The final push of the day was a fast climb of 600-m (~2000') in a short 8-km. Two of the villages we walked through could only be reached by a steep rocky dirt path. But everywhere the sun came out, we seemed to be re-energized. That is until we reached the top. Here, we entered Galicia, Josué's birthplace and the province where Santiago is located. Dark clouds met us coming over the mountain with rain and hail. Welcome to Galicia!

The streets were empty of people because of the weather. The refugio at the end of town was a welcome sight indeed. A surprise was that the hospitalero was Sonya. I met her and Cesar in Rabanal. He's a plumber and she's a hospice nurse. She had arrived here the day before by bus because she thinks she has a torn tendon in her knee. So, they were volunteers for the day.

The weather moves fast in these mountains. In the late afternoon, the sun had pushed the clouds away but not the cold wind. The view of the surrounding valleys was as if out of a fairy tale. O'Cebreiro is at 1300-m (>5000'). You could see several small hamlets in almost any direction. In town they are restoring several of the pallosas which are round stone buildings with a conical thatched roof common to areas settled by the Celts.

Fairy tale view from O Cebreiro

A 'pallosa' with its thatched roof

The surprise of the day was the arrival of Benedetta, my Italian 'Angel'. She had walked 38-km to get here tonight. She said she loved the note I had left for her in Rabanal. Later, after dinner I joined her, Jon Luigi, Vicente and Larissa for a nightcap.

Vicente, Larissa, Gianluigi & Benedetta enjoy dinner

With the sun down and the cold mists blowing through, it was going to be a very cold night here in the mountains.