The best thing one can do when it’s raining is to let it rain. ~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
The challenging path continues to be flooded in areas and muddy at best. I think all of us are beginning to wonder what we’ve gotten ourselves into and what may lie ahead. Water-soaked boots are heavy weights and pull on our tired, sore leg muscles as we schlepp along.
We are now in Galicia and the scenery has blossomed into the emerald green of spring as we weave through woods and dale. We crossed into Galicia on day four before crossing the snowy mountain and the village of O Cebreiro sits near the top. I must have missed the sign. (Better go back and hike that mountain so I can see the Galician border sign.) I’ve read that in the Galician language, O replaces El. Our final destination, Santiago de Compostella, is the capitol of Galicia.
Two languages are official and widely used today in Galicia; the native Galician, a Romance language closely related to Portuguese with which it shares the common Galician-Portugal medieval literature, and the Spanish language, usually known locally as Castilian. 56.4% of the Galician population always speaks in Galician or speaks more in Galician than in Castilian, while 42.5% speaks always in Castilian or more in Castilian than in Galician. ~ Wikipedia
Our path continues through a muddy, hilly wooded area and we come across a colorful, although tacky, looking memorial made of cast-off clothing, snack garbage, socks, hats… It appears as though it is the pilgrim dump. I am not impressed with this area since it contrasts so starkly with the quiet, remote woods, farmlands and small villages. The site does kind of remind me of Jamaica with its bright colors. Randy would like to take home that nice jacket on the lower right, but it’s not his size.
Romanesque stone walls border our path as we cross through pasture areas, working our way down to the city of Portomarin. The slimy mud pulls on our boots and the path is also mixed with sweet smelling cow manure ~ Watch your step! The farmer is getting the herd adjusted to their new pasture grounds using a stick and his dog.
This long bridge over the rushing waters of the Mino River is the only thing between us and our destination for the day, Portomarin, Spain. I hang tightly onto my walking poles as the strong gusts of wind push, tug and pull on me as if playing the old playground game, King of the Hill. ~ Photo from Google images.
Portomarin is tucked in amongst the hills of Monte do Cristo and the river intersects the village. During medieval times people lived on the right bank of the river, in an enclave (territory surrounded by another territory) by the Camino de Santiago.
The Portomarin we see today dates mostly from the middle of the 20th century with much of the old town now below the waters of the Miño. In the 1950’s Franco decided he wanted to build a hydro-electric dam 40 kilometres down river and in doing so would flood the town of Portomarín. The townspeople wanted to save some of their most important monuments and transported these stone by stone up to their new home, high above the river, which you see in the photo above. Now, that would require some heavy lifting! Parts of the old town resurface in the fall when the water level gets low.
As we first come across the new bridge, we pull our tired bodies up some steps to an arch where we see the Iglesia de Santa Maria de las Nieves, built on the site of a former pilgrim hospital. The staircase is actually the sole remaining part of the original 2nd century Roman bridge, which was destroyed by Doña Urraca. I would have taken a photo but it was raining. Go figure…
Wet, tired, stiff, sore, hungry… A-h-h-h-h…. home, sweet, home.