Day 28. Monday, September 22, 2014. Pedrouzo. 18K to Santiago.
It is obvious that we have hiked out of summer and into fall. The mornings are cooler and we no longer face the relentless heat under the scorching sun. This morning we could see our breath as we started out. Mist laid in the valleys. The noonday temperatures were comfortable.
There is decidedly a new energy as we near Santiago. The pilgrims seem more relaxed. The thunderstorm couldn’t dampen the spirits of pilgrims at the little tavern last night. This morning there were no pushed departures with people bumping around in the dark of the wee hours of the morning, waking everyone. At the rest stops we call out to the various groups of pilgrims passing by, people who have become familiar to us over these weeks. They greet us as well. There are few strangers at this stage of the journey.
The scenery is beautiful as ever, but we have become familiar with the meadows and hedgerows, the groves of eucalyptus trees with their fragrant aroma, the small stone churches with their double bell towers, the ups and downs of the rutted paths. We were grateful that the rain of last night had passed into a fine morning but the storm had left mud and puddles. At times there was no avoiding muddying our boots.
We stop often along the way, partly to savor the time we time we have left and partly to fill the remaining spaces in our pilgrim’s passports with sellos (stamped seals) they give. Two sellos are required per day in Galicia to attain the Compostela that acknowledges the completion of our pilgrimage.
It was a relatively short and easy hike to Pedrouzo. We arrived before lunch. We didn’t want to press it too much today. We want our last leg of the journey to be enough to challenge us but not enough that we will be exhausted when we arrive.
We talked along the way about how crazy we are to have taken on this journey. What possessed us to spend these four weeks pounding the trail, sleeping in bunk beds in rooms full of people we didn’t know, risking blisters and bug bites and back spasms? It has been a crazy adventure but we have been undeniably blessed.
We wonder how it will be when we see Santiago… first from the Monte de Gozo (Mountain of Joy) where we catch our first glimpse from a distance, then as we join other pilgrims in the final kilometers to the city. There is a pilgrims’ Mass at the cathedral at noon but we are not sure we will make it tomorrow. We look forward to two full days to savor Santiago and to venerate the tomb of St. James.
Samos, in Galicia, is home to a quaint city and a large, impressive Benedictine monastery. Fourteen monks are in residence there. More information about the history of Samos is here at Wikipedia. We took a tour of the monastery including the cloister, church and sacristy, and a hallway with murals depicting scenes from the life of St. Benedict. This was the highlight of the day. Enjoy this folio of pictures of the monastery. You can click the smaller pictures for larger versions. Here are exteriors, interiors, and some of the monastery’s treatures, including… musical mermaids.
Camino Day 23, Wednesday, September 17, 2014, Triacastela. Started our steep, upward journey to the top of the mountain in the dark, with only our headlight to guide us. The path had trees on both sides and a strong wind above that made it seem like we were moving through a long tunnel.
We stopped at the first village we came to for breakfast before continuing to the top. The selfie includes a traveling buddy from Australia. This will allow you to see how well we are surviving.
The wind battled us on the path to the top. We passed a marker indicating we entered the Galician province, the last in our trip.
We came to O Cebreiro. All the buildings and streets were made of the same stone. We imagine that that any lighter building material wouldn’t last in the constant wind.
(Not taken today, but these are the kinds of rocks that are underfoot and are treacherous when wet).
The theme of the day could have been Up and Down; Dry and Wet. We wove our way through the Mountains of Leon with varying degrees of rain, with breaks here and there. Pilgrims were putting on ponchos and running for cover as the rain intensified. The mud and slippery rocks made walking difficult.
By end of the day we were drenched, but as you see, God gave the rain but He also gave a beautiful rainbow.
We went through a number of Galician villages, stopping at the one pictured for prayer. It was another tiring day, but each day brings us closer to our goal, Santiago.