Walking with the herd…

O’Just to refresh your memory…

camino-frances-26o-cebreiroWe tackled the mountain so we are feeling exhilarated and no worse for wear. Now we enjoy the rural mountain views, hike through small dairy herds and milking facilities while aiming our sights on Fonfria to rest our weary bones for the night.

2014caminoblog-1070372Milking attire waiting to be put to use.


2014caminoblog-1070377Randy and St. James, don’t lose your hats in the wind!  Large bronze statue of St. James facing Santiago (apparently on a windy day).2014caminoblog-1070389

Time to herd the cattle down the path.  Not quite like the Running of the Bulls…  Below are a couple of short videos:

Galicia and O’Cebreiro

2014Camino-1070328dmvcrWe 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

2014caminoblog-1070340In 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.

2014caminoblog-1070342 At a desk, a clerk stamps pilgrims’ credentials and sells votive candles.

2014caminoblog-1070343The building is quite spacious inside.

2014caminoblog-1070347Many are only short-term pilgrims and are dropped off by large tour buses that wait while they explore the village and pay their respects with a candle purchase.

2014caminoblog-1070350 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.

2014caminoblog-1070352Attached 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.

2014caminoblog-1070356It was a little on the cool side and this cat has found a nice sunny spot to guard the beer crate in back of an old cafe.

2014caminoblog-1070360Shopping is available at the horreo (granary).

2014caminoblog-1070361… and here it is, but store is closed.

2014caminoblog-1070358Have no fear!  Gypsies decide to set up shop right by a cafe sign so I guess I can shop, after all!

2014caminoblog-1070362  I’m taking photos of the cute dog, right?  Oh, and there just happens to be Gyspies in the background.

2014caminoblog-1070367Group shot just outside O’Cebreiro as we begin our descent to the other side of the mountain. We’ve enjoyed our little noon break in this quaint village with so much Celtic influence and history.

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.

Milking time is done… for now.

Camino de Santiago Day #6 continues up the mountain, O’Cebreiro…

The path passes through a small dairy farm and we arrive just after morning milking.

2014Camino-1070308dmvThe girls are milked and it’s time to mo-o-o-o-ve on.

2014Camino-1070313dmvLooks like Grandma has kid duty and a strong grasp on her charge. Don’t even think about it, Nino!


End of Day #6 – Strolling Ambasmestas

camino-frances-25vegaMap reads from right to left.

We started at Villafranca del Bierzo and stop for the night at Ambasmestas, Spain, one kilometer from Vega De Valcarce which is situated at the bottom of the mountain, O’cebreiro.   It is a quaint, little village with plenty of local color, but not many people.

2014Camino-1070242cr 2014Camino-1070243crWho’s the creeper in the window?







2014Camino-1070255dmvcrIt’s a pleasant evening for conversation.  Probably discussing politics or those crazy pilgrims.2014Camino-1070256dmvcr

2014Camino-1070257dmvcrInteresting albergue.  They do allow pets, however.2014Camino-1070262crIt’s a nice, warm evening so we are able to hand wash and dry our clothing in the window.  We meet two lovely sisters from Australia and share Camino experiences with them.  I will soon find out that snapping photos can be helpful when tracking down pilgrims on the trail.


One year anniversary… Camino de Santiago

O-o-o-oh, I believe there are angels among us… ~ Alabama

It’s been one year since we embarked on a pilgrimage across northern Spain ~ Camino de Santiago. While I’m the first to admit to not being a true pilgrim, being neither Catholic or even attempting to go without all amenities, (wine, bed, food…) I do feel that a deeper layer of my inner soul has been tapped.

The experience reaffirmed my faith in mankind and that God is looking out for us. I did believe in the existence of angels before and I’m even more convinced now.  If not angels, God certainly knows who to put where at just the right time.

Spain-1030684Swollen creek?  No problem. God has it covered and the singing Spanish Angels magically appeared to help us across.

Spain-1030598dmvLost your group and still can’t find them after searching every downtown bar and albergue?  No problem. God came through with this one, too. Thank you, observant hiker from San Diego.

Spain-1030382dmvNo place to stay?  Carmen, Isabella and others welcomed us in.

Spain-1030376dmvNeed a good “muscle relaxant” to ease the aches and pains after a miserable, rain soaked day topped off with jet lag?  Damian to the rescue.  I can still hear our laughter bouncing off the small bar walls.

So, even though the Compostela de Santiago was the ultimate goal, the journey itself was the real experience.

God came through to help us on several occasions, but a snowstorm meant that hiking the mountain, O’Cebreiro, was not in the cards for our group of pilgrims.

Spain-1030752crdmvUnfinished business?  Hmmm…?  Maybe not during a season that involves rain or snow.