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.

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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!

 

O’Cebreiro, you’ve been waiting for us

It’s Day #7.  We are up with the chickens since we have a long day and a mountain ahead of us.

camino-frances-26o-cebreiroOur path goes from right to left.

This mountain is the original reason we are back since we have unfinished business.  In March of 2013 a snowstorm stopped us in our tracks.  It is August now so we should be clear to go, but we must get an early start to make it all the way to Fonfria today.

A group of rambunctious teenage boys out and about at 5:30 a.m. seem suspicious at first, but we quickly realize they are just playing pranks on a cafe employee opening up for the day. She is not amused and we pass by with ease.

The video is a little jiggly because I didn’t want to be left behind, all alone, in the dark!

2014Camino-1070286Indiana Joan is ready to head up the mountain.

2014Camino-1070282dmvcrWe begin the climb.

2014Camino-1070278dmvWe find a self-service concession stand utilizing an honor system.  We also see these in western Minnesota, along the highways, when someone has garden produce available for purchase and they are not able to tend the stand.

2014Camino-1070289dmvcrFountain in a little hamlet along the way.

2014Camino-1070290dmvTranslation:  Despite the breath (as he says), I have to laugh. Let’s say you smile, laugh, because I can not.  I really don’t feel that out of breath and the legs feel great.

2014Camino-1070300dmvWork to do on the mountain… or is he in charge of crowd control?

2014Camino-1070301

camino2014-1070302Looking back, the views are breathtaking.

camino2014-1070304The path is cut down into the ground and, above us, we now enjoy the open views of pastures and cattle grazing contentedly as the sun begins to warm the air.

Ah-h-h-h-h… this is the life and not a snowflake in sight!

 

 

 

 

 

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.