Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Day 34 Camino de Santiago Aug. 8 Sarria

Classic lesson today!   Fear not, what is not!  That'll be my saying for the day.  I  was soooooooooooo looking forward to being in O Cebreiro and it turned out to be a flop.  I was soooooooooooooo dreading to be in Sarria, because that's where the number of peregrines increases exponentially.  Guess what - Couldn't wait to get out of O Cebreiro and might stay an extra day in Sarria.
     Yes, the number of peregrines substantially increased since O Cebreiro, but Sarria has over 400 beds and will accommodate even more by opening up the school gym to sleep on the floor!
     Are you listening Albergue in O Cebreiro?!?!/!#%$#&&
    I awoke this morning at 9 AM  to the birds singing, a cool breeze blowing through the window, and the smell of freshly baked croissants.....NOT!  I awoke at 5:30 because there are new peregrines and they are sore and can't sleep.  This morning there was a family of three: Mom, Dad and daughter who was about 22 and fairly portly (I'm being kind here!  Work with with me!)  At 5:30, her dad was putting a creme on her legs and massaging them, which is a wonderful thing...just not at 5:30 AM in a room with 10 people.  Oh... and if it's not too much bother...maybe hold the conversation to just a tad below a sonic boom.  I wish I could have understood their Spanish because it would have been fun to have joined their conversation at the most inappropriate time!  Actually, I just laughed because... well.. what else could I do.  It makes me feel great to see the daughter, undaunted by her obvious liabilities, attempting to hike 20 - 25 k a day, and I'm happy to see a mom and dad close enough to their daughter to take her on the Camino.  God bless them all...  Now... shut the heck up!!  Just kidding!  It was comical to see people so oblivious to the rest of the world around them.
    Good ol' Steve was sleepy when I left the Albergue and forgot my towel so I had to walk two miles back to get it.  Isn't that fun!!  Hello cow....again!  Hello barking dog...again!!!
    After finally going in a positive direction, it turned out to be the wrong direction... well not exactly the wrong direction... I mean... if I went all the way around the world, it would have eventually been the right direction.  As it turned out... I did see another house I'd like to buy...only it has lots of cow manure in the street in front of it and the fields around it, which means boo coo flies!
    I checked my map... ya's a recommendation from Steve...check your map BEFORE you start off in the morning!  I checked and saw that I was taking the ahem...northern route... which oddly enough was a short cut... but only on my map.  There were huge mountains to climb on my map, but it was a great workout.
   A lot of the time I was on the road, so I rolled.  Much of the time I was on a path like this one, so I carried.  The pack has gotten lighter or I have gotten stronger, or I quit thinking about it!
    The trail is very poorly marked ever since I left Ponferrada a few days ago.  It's like the yellow arrow painter is on strike.  Probably a retired Spanish waiter.  In Mexico, it's "maƱana".  To the Spanish waiter it's "Ma-never".  You can hike for an hour and never see an arrow or shell, but then BAM a huge sign.  In previous days, like the first 30 days, there was a yellow arrow or shell every two minutes.
    The books all say that the number of hikers/bikers increases in Sarria, but it's actually O Cebreiro that the new pilgrims join.  It seems that they come in bunches, not solo travelers.  The difference being that they are usually louder and less willing to break from their group.  To say that the Camino has changed, yes, it has, but the jury is out as to for the better or worse.  I know it means more to me when I see some of the original pilgrims.  There's that fraternity feel of community that is priceless.

 I feel for the newbies because the trail is still the trail.  Steps like these are killers because they break the rhythm and strain calf muscles.  Their feet have not been broken in and they are hurting after the first day.  They'll be hurting more in three days, they just don't know it yet.  Again, good for them - If this is the only time off they can get, more power to them.  If I can help, I will.

     After hiking for eternity... not really, it was probably just 1/2 of eternity, Sarria came into view.  It's a huge city!  As in too many bars to count.  I stopped off at a tourism office just outside of town and they found me a hotel room for 20E and it's wonderful!  Not bad considering I paid 9E last night to be with the Spanish version of the Von Trapp family!

      Sarria is built on the side of a hill and was a good stretch after my 24k walk.  I like to walk after I shower as it seems to stretch me and prevent tightening of the muscles.  Beautiful little church in Sarria as well.

   I ate Italian tonight!  Mama was okay...  Good olive oil!  Good coffee.  My Mom's lasagna absolutely smokes the one I had tonight.  In the restaurant, I found what happened to those old maps I had in grade school.  I love maps!  I look at one and BOOM - I'm gone!
     This Jesuit church reminded me of a guy I met in Trabadelo.   I walked into a restaurant and there were two Germans sitting at a table and at another table was an Asian and an anglo.  I sat at a table near them.  I heard the Asian speaking perfect English so I asked if I could join them.  Mike the Asian was from San Francisco, and Peter was a Hungarian.

   Long story- short version.  Mike was an accountant and couldn't stand it.  Said no one he worked with could stand it.  The biggest topic of conversation was... how long till retirement!  So after several years, he quit and has been traveling for the last 7 months or so.  Now, he's headed back to the states to be a Jesuit priest.  He said it's a 10 year process - 2 years of learning the rules and regulations (isn't their a video he could watch); 3 years of college - either Fordham or Chicago Loyola (maybe Western??); then 2 years of internship in a school or hospital; and then 3 years of theology.  Wow!!


Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.

Day 33 Camino de Santiago Aug. 7 Triacastela

Quick day today.  I was tired.  Not any pictures to speak of so I want to document what clothes I have:
*2 long sleeve shirts that roll up to be very cool and airy short sleeve shirts.  I wear the blue one EVERY FRIGGIN DAY and save the green one for an emergencies or nights.
*1 short sleeve shirt.  I shower after walking for the day, and put on the short sleeve shirt
*1 pair of long/short pants - I keep them as long pants but they unzip to become short pants if needed.  I put them on after the afternoon shower. EVERY FRIGGIN DAY
*1 pair of rugged short pants (lots of pockets) that I wear ... you got it...EVERY FRIGGIN DAY
*3 pair of underwear
*3 pair of socks - el cheapos from Walmart.
*1 pair of good woolen blend socks.  I save those for rainy days.  Could have done without.
*1 pair long pants in case I had to sleep outdoors, in case others got wet.
*1 pair of hiking shoes (not high tops) EVERY FRIGGIN DAY
* 1 pair of flip flops that I wear after the afternoon shower EVERY FRIGGIN DAY
* 1 baseball hat - go Sun Devils! EVERY FRIGGIN DAY
*1 pair of pj pants - 1 more layer of protection and keeps me warm EVERY FRIGGIN DAY
*1  pj short sleeve shirt - same rationale as above + extra t shirt if needed EVERY FRIGGIN DAY

1 sheet - silk/satin - very helpful!  Some beds are suspect.  I've seen some nasty bedbug attacks on others.
1 towel - very light, big, quick drying.  worth $35 I paid.  I left it at the Triacastela albergue and walked back two miles to get it!!  Do I value it???
1pillowcase - got this at the first albergue - someone left it in a pile of give-a-ways.
1 umbrella - debatable need - if it had rained much, I'm sure I'd be thankful to have it
1 poncho - would need if it would rain.  I'm not complaining!
1 flashlight - that I left in the albergue!!!  Auuugghhh!  Oh well I hope it finds a happy home.  It deserves   it.  It's the one that I found after the first night in Ronceville.  That's what happens when you are rushed in the morning!  Now I will use my iPhone.  If that thing could shave....
comb/toothpaste/ toothbrush/razor/deodarant/ soap dish +soap/lotion/qtips
1 bag o' meds!
*iphone/camera+ holster - THANKYOU RAYMOND!  The holster makes it hard to forget and keep it from falling out of my pocket!!  HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!!
*airMac - heavy but fun!!
*chargers - gotta have them!

*backpack with wheels - WaLK and RoLL BABY!!!

*2 small packs of Kleenex - need I say more.

“Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.” 
 Mark Twain

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.