May 27, 2007

5/27/07 Fonfria Spain

"Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle." Plato

An older gentleman out for a morning stroll

It was a quiet road walk since this was early Sunday morning. It was dry but clouds seem to hug the upper parts of the mountains. But after a few kilometers, you could see pilgrims alongside the road putting on their rain gear.

This climb up into the mountains scares a lot of pilgrims but that seems silly considering they've just walked across Spain. Despite our successes, we always seem to create monsters out of the unknown.

Galicia is known for it's rain. Maybe that's why the Celts settled here over a 1000 years ago - because it reminded them of home.

Rain in the mountains

Neither the rain or the mountains
scared this older French woman on her bike

The old road to La Faba was a long hard climb over rocks. And with the rain, it was very slick too. But my body seemed to enjoy the work as I kept passing others along the way.

I definitely remember this road

The four kilometers on to O Cebrero would have been beautiful on a nice day, but with the rain and fierce winds it was just something to endure.

Monument to the Pilgrim in O Cebreiro

In O Cebrero all the pilgrims crammed into the first bar into town including me, to warm up and maybe get something to eat. Too many wet people in too small of a space to be comfortable, so I left pretty quickly back out into the rain.

It's amazing that I ever get to where I want with my bad luck of missing the Camino. Leaving town, I was joined by Kathi & Judy, with Tomoko following us. But on the road I couldn't find any arrows or signs. By the time we figured we had taken the wrong way, it was too far to walk back, so we kept walking hoping the Camino would cross our path.

I smiled big once we reached Lunares when I spotted the familiar yellow arrow. Despite the rain, the Camino didn't have that much mud, and the surrounding trees sheltered us from most of the winds.

In Hospital de la Condesa, I stopped at the refugio to check my guidebook to see if it was worthwhile to continue. The refugio was a beehive of activity because they were using it as an election polling place. I had fun joking with the old timers telling them that it was a wonderful day for a walk.

It was noon and I decided that it might be warmer and maybe even better weather if I could get off the top of these mountains, so I kept going. One minute I'm being pelted with rain while the wind tries to rip off my rain gear, but the next minute it's calm with even a hint of sun.

Made it to the albergue in Fonfria. The family actually converted a barn into a refugio-bar-restaurant. Actually very nice, with even a large sitting room. We're packed in pretty tight because they keep taking in the late comers who beg for floor space instead of going any farther in this weather.

Tomorrow I'm not sure what I want to do. There is a longer route that goes to the monastery in Samos. It would be a very short day, but then it would put me in a schedule of staying in some smaller refugios instead of the big ones. And I hesitate to ask any other pilgrims like Alexandra where they are going in case it pulls me in a different direction.

Now that we are so close, there is a tendency to bunch as a group instead of approaching Santiago as individuals, at least with me. I have to remind myself to lessen the importance of expectations and let the moments present themselves as they will. Too much planning removes possibilities.

Tonight we had a traditional meal for this part of Galicia. If I didn't know better, I would have thought my grandmother cooked the meal. Besides the usual wine and bread, we had a lentil soup with rice, onions, potato in a beef broth. For the main course we had potatoes and roast beef. For desert we had Tarta de Santiago which you only find here as we get closer to Santiago. Ate too much, but it was all too good.

Heading down for dinner

A little wine before dinner is served

Juan Pedro is here, but now there are a few more Spaniards. Since I wasn't with anyone, I sat with them. I told them that I spoke Spanish but they thought I was from Germany. Not a hard assumption these days on the Camino. I had fun listening to them, but when it came to jokes I was lost. But they were great guys. For a nightcap, Jaime bought a round of oruja, a kind of whiskey made from grapes. powerful stuff so I should sleep good.