Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Day 32 Camino de Santiago Aug 6 Alto do Polo

    Pears!  Not the most exciting topic, but it gets better, I promise!   The area is famous for, of all things pears and apples, unfortunately, it’s not the picking season.  That will be in a couple of months.  But to see so many apples and pears growing makes me think, I could live in the hills and come down and pilfer a few apples here and there.  Next week, I’d be on pear alert.  There are plenty of vegetables and I’m sure no one would mind if I took a beet here, or a tomato or...  Does that sound very Caminoish?? Probably not.  I’d better ask first... and then take them if they say no!:)

     I think I’d rather live in this house than a tent!  I was staring at this house, thinking, “What a beautiful home!  What could possibly be the down side to living in that house!  It’s gorgeous!”  Two seconds later, a huge cement mixer came rumbling past shaking the ground.  There’s the downside:  the house is six feet from the main street!!
     I saw these bells and wondered, “What happens in a small town when there is more than one church... who gets to ring the bells.  I never hear more than one church’s bells.  Must be some kind of agreement between the churches.  


    What is the first thing you thought, “oh, the freeway bridge!  If only the bridge wasn’t in the picture.”  How about the sunflowers, or the holly hocs?  I wonder why humanoids don’t see the building of a bridge as an amazing miracle, much like sunflowers?  We are a strange lot.  We tend to see ourselves as not part of nature, rather an imposition on nature.  We are as much a part of nature as birds and flowers.  only we have smelly feet.

    Yes, it’s time for “Food Talk”!  That segment of the blog that deals with what makes travel fun!  Bacon and eggs and a cafe con leche chased by a huge slice of chocolate cake!  Seriously, how much better can it get??  Toss in a heavy dose of a beautiful blue skies, puffy white clouds, and 65 degree temperatures.  and for the record, Spanish bacon is light years better than American bacon.  Little fat and tasty meat!

  I love the simple things in life, like how they channel the water to the different fields via the removable dams.  Quick, efficient and darn cheap.  But what an amazing piece of engineering.

   When you see beautiful pictures, it is only one sense that you are using, eyesight.  Unfortunately, or fortunately, you don’t SMELL the manure.  You don’t HEAR barking dogs, and you certainly can’t be annoyed to no end by flies that you FEEL!  Thank you cows for helping me see that.  I remember seeing Tarzan movies and how fun the jungle looked...until I went to the jungle and sweated like a banshee, and swatted bugs 24 hours a day!

    You gotta give these folks credit.  They’re trying to figure a way to make a sow’s ear into a silk purse.  Sometimes though, no matter how much you dress up a’s still a pig!

The trail climbed and climbed and was cloaked under trees, though there were plenty of views that helped make the climb that much more bearable!  Okay, maybe I used the views to stop and catch my breath!  


    I like hiking on the path, as opposed to hiking along side the road, but it is much steeper on the path and I can’t roll.  Still, it is fun to see the greenery and I have to tell myself that I need to savor every moment, since I know that in a short time, it’ll all be a distant memory.  I have learned that no matter how long I am gone, after being back for 2 days, it’s as if I never left.

    I saw this leaf on the road and it is the first time that I’ve ever seen a leaf that was similar to the camouflage that the US Army paints on it’s equipment.  All that camouflage paint... for one leaf??

    I could see where I walking to and it was a ways a way, however, I just knew that I would love it there.  O Cebreiro is supposedly like Ireland, complete with their own language.  I can hardly wait, but I’ve got two hours ahead of me.

I know it’s two hours because I stopped in a little bar and Gunther was there.  He let me know that there were two more hours.  Gotta love the Germans, between their maps and their watches, they’ve got planning down to a science!!

    Okay, so how many Spaniards does it take to change a light bulb??

    I see these rolls of hay and I have such American thoughts - shooting them with a bow and arrow!  Doesn’t that sound like fun.  Having the bales 300 yards away and flinging flaming arrows at them at dusk?  Maybe it’s a guy thing!  
     Only one of these sheep have a bell.  This proves that they aren’t too bright.  If the others could work as a team, they could beat him, bury the bell, and make their getaway.  I have a question for the belled sheep....Do you ever think about how you are being ewsed?
   Finally, one last stretch of the trail through dense forest and I could feel the temperature getting cooler and more moist.  In a few minutes, O Cebreiro!  O Boy!
       The first signs of the village that I had read about...that I had seen pictures of.  The rock wall.  I had even dreamed of walking into the village on this very road!!  Oh be still my beating heart!!
       Okay.... I don’t remember the sheets, but... they just add character!   That wall may be one of the original walls from 860AD.  Maybe even the sheets are that old!  This is going to be way cool!

     Great!  A cross!  That means I’m getting close to a church.  Sure enough, there was a church and I went inside.  There were no less than 15 young pilgrims in there...with their Credincial to be stamped.  They were loud.  Unpilgrimish.  They were clean and standing straight.  So not pilgrimish!  Who were these... pelegrinos??

    I walked into the town...only there really wasn’t a town.  There was a church, an albergue, three bar/hotels... that was it?  Wait a minute.  I’ve seen hundreds of buildings on Google images!?!?  What up wit’ dat?  Maybe this was just a suburb of O Cebreiro.  I asked a bartender, “Where is O Cebreiro?”  “This is it!” he replied.  
Mr. Google Images must have photographed each building from a hundred angles!  
    This is one of the buildings that had the thatched roof.  How cool!  Just like how... lonely! This was only one of two.
     This is the view from the Albergue.  You can see a Franciscan monk in the picture. Every other building you see is a hotel/bar.  
     This is the other thatched roof building in the city.  That’s it. Two.  Count ‘em!  One Two!    Okay, no problem.  I’ll get a room- enjoy the 360 degree views - enjoy the cool weather - stay a couple of days and write!   Blah blah blah!
        T’weren’t to be!!!
  1. There weren’t much of a town.  Maybe seven or eight old stone buildings, and that was it.  Most of the builiding were bars and had six or seven bedrooms to rent.  There was one small albergue in town and an old church that was simple but elegant.  

  1. There weren’t any beds to be had! All the rooms were taken, and the albergue was full.  It wasn’t the first time that an albergue has been full, but in the past, all the people who run them do something to make sure that all people have a place to stay.  It may be in the basement, which I’ve done twice, or in a covered area outside, but everyone has a place to stay.  This albergue had a woman who just said, “Completo!”  (full) and put her hands in the air.
  2.       “Not good enough!” I said,  “Let’s pretend that ‘failure is not an option!” 
           “Completo!” she repeated.  Wonderful.  The only darn person on Earth who has not seen Apollo 13.  
           “Thank you for your tireless efforts to make this an enjoyable visit!”  and with that I went to the town center.  I was going to ask someone if I could sleep in their car, but I got no takers. . . imagine!
I even asked bartenders if I could sleep on their floors, but nope, there is a law against that.
        “Fine!  Arrest me!  Put me in jail!  I’ll even take a top bunk.  I’ll sing “Folsom Prison Blues!”  

  1. people weren’t Caminoish at all.  I walked from one pub/hotel to the next to ask, and always the same answer, “Completo!”  
        “How about, ‘completo...sorry!”  
    I decided to leave O Cerebrio and walk to the next town.  I was prepared to walk all the way to Tricastel which was 22k away.  But first, I thought, I should eat so that I won’t have to waste time looking for a place on the road.  As I started to walk to the bar, I couldn’t help but notice a city worker who was pouring concrete, staring a hole through the side of my head.  I tried to ignore him and went inside the bar.
     Let me set the stage:  Very picturesque pub.  12 tables and an old bar.  I walked to the bar and after being ignored be four people, I finally gathered someone’s attention.  “Excuse me, do you have a pilgrim’s menu?”  She looked at me as if I had asked her if she wanted to have sex on the bar.  My Spanish is not perfect , but if there is one phrase I know, it’s how to ask for a menu.  
     She walked away from me.  Okay, now I’m angry, hungry and tired.  Finally she walked by me again, and she said, “get a menu from the table.”  I did.  I went back to the bar and she and her other three zombies kept ignoring me.  Finally, I snapped and threw the menu up in the air and left.  
    Who do I run into outside the bar?   Mr. Staremaster!  He’s staring at me again.  “Que quieres?” I asked in a rather unfriendly tone.  “What do you want?”  He looked at me like I was nuts, so I asked him again, “Que quiere?”  
     “Uhhh...nada!” he replied.  
     In English - “Then look at the friggin wall!”  and I walked away.  
  1. I knew I should  I was on tilt and the only thing to do was leave.  I left.  I was so disappointed because I had so looked forward to the town.  Poop on the town and its unCaminolike people!  I’m never going back there again!!!!
       The hike out of town was gorgeous.  (I'm trying be positive here!!  I was ready to go UnCamino, but I was trying to believe that it would all end well)  Incredible views of lush green land and beautiful farms.  Views of 50 miles away of green hills and farms.  Many farms were sectioned off with stone walls that were covered in moss ala Ireland...   
     One town after another  would only say, "Completo!"  No help, no floor... but still I smiled and said Gracias and moved on.  I couldn't believe how happy and positive I was, and it was sincere.  It was fun. I told people hiking along, not to worry, we'd be okay.  We should enjoy the next four hours of hiking if necessary because at the end of the day, we'd have a place to stay and would not have wasted hours of pouting.  In fact, stop and take pictures!!
    We finally made it to a two building town... really... and yes, I had a room.  20 E...  At dinner, what a trip!   There was an old man who was waiting tables and incredibly gruff.  He sat people where he wanted them and barked at them.  The first course was either macaroni or soup.  A Dutch couple fell into big trouble with the old man because the man wanted macaroni and the woman wanted soup.  The old man barked, "NO!  Sopa o macaroni! "  So they both had macaroni.  When he went to the kitchen, everyone in the "restaurant" looked at each other with that inside joke look and laughed.  It was a remarkable moment because in the room were French, Dutch, Irish, American, Italian, English and Belgian.  Through the next day, I'd see the people along the way and we'd smile and say, "NO! Macaroni or Sopa!"

    The next morning, the old man was as friendly as could be.  

It left this pilgrim scratching his head too!!

He even gave me a hug goodbye!  I think he was a bit bipolar.  I felt sorry for him because who knows, maybe his back hurt and all he wanted to do was lie down and his no good nephew didn't show up for work...again!  

Happiness doesn't come as a result of getting something we don't have, but rather of recognizing and appreciating what we do have.

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