We are now officially in Galicia. This part of the country has an economy based on fishing, farming, agriculture and increasingly tourism. While the population is Spanish, they see themselves primarily as “Gallegos.” When the Galicians talk about nationalism, they are generally referring to the “nation of Galicia” rather than the nation of Spain. ~ http://www.galiciaguide.com
In O Cebreiro, all roads lead to the village church. Founded in the year 836, Santa María la Real (Royal St. Mary’s) is supposedly the oldest church on the entire French Road of the Camino de Santiago. The building is embedded into the ground, with sunken floors that added protection against winter storms.
Villagers lived in stone huts called pallozas until as recently as the 1960’s. Upon entering a palloza, which typically housed a dozen people (and their animals), you’ll find two simple rooms: the only “private” room in the house, belonging to the parents, and a living area around a fire. Surrounding the fire are clever benches (which were also used as very hard beds) with pull-down counters so they could double as a table at mealtime. Cooking was done over the fire using a chain hanging from a big beam, while giant black-metal spirals suspended from the ceiling were used to smoke chorizo.
Attached to the living area is a miniature “barn,” where animals lived on the lower level, and people — kept warm by all that livestock body heat — slept on the upper level. Thanks to the ideal insulation provided by the thatch, and the warmth from the fire and animals, it was toasty even through the difficult winter. ~ Thank you, Rick Steves, for the fun facts to know and tell.
Now it’s back to hiking with Fonfria as our destination. We enjoy conversations with other Pilgrims, but I can’t say the trail is over-crowded.