Today was alternately foggy, damp, drizzling, and outright raining. Through it all, it was cold. We were greeted by roosters cockadoodling, chickens clucking and pecking, and lackadaisical cows grazing and lowing. The path often ran through deep, leafy chestnut forests and gullies with babbling streams. The constant fog, rain and mist carried intimations of sprites and witches, in which Galicians are said to believe.
Immediately upon leaving Triacastela, I had to decide whether to take the northern direct route via San Xil or the southern detour route via Samos. For me, it was no question I’d keep to the San Xil route as it was shorter by 6.4 km. I would miss one of the oldest and largest monasteries in Spain, the Benedictine Monasterio de Samos, but I was determined to get to Santiago now that the end was in sight. The monastery was founded in the 6th century on the asceticism of the Desert Fathers, taking the Benedictine Rule in 960.
Triacastela to Opción (for detour route via Samos) (0.7 km)
From the detour option, I continued on and through the tiny hamlet of A Balsa, treading carefully between chickens and roosters. I crossed a river and then walked past the tiny chapel dedicated to Our Lady of the Snows, ermita Nos Señora las Nieves, and up a steep woodland path to rejoin the road at a rest area with an unusual scallop shell motif. Then I passed San Xil, with a fog-enshrouded pumpkin patch and no facilities.
Opción to A Balsa (1.6 km)
We climbed up into a steep woodland path to Alto Riocabo, and then passed through the tiny hamlet of Fontearcuda.
A Balsa to Alto do Riocabo (3.5 km)
After Alto do Riocabo, I descended steeply through feathery fern forests between moss-engulfed stone walls. Finally, the landscape flattened out. The rain remained a steadfast companion.
We then crossed a road onto a stone path over a stream and then into Furela, where I ate a cheese omelette (French-style) in an unheated open air garage. It was utterly bone-chilling and miserable. The cafe was the only place in town and was overflowing.
Here, I chatted with Fatima from Switzerland, who only spoke French. She and I had been passing each other for many days, but since we couldn’t speak a common language, we always said “Hola!” to each other. Each time one of us bypassed the other, Fatima said, “Hasta luego!” Seeing each other again and again came to be expected and cherished.
Somehow Fatima managed to communicate that she had been walking since August 3 from Mont St. Michel to Bordeaux, where she took a train to St. Jean Pied-de-Port. She had been walking from there. At least that was my understanding.
Alto do Riocabo to Furela (4.6 km)
After leaving Furela, I talked for a long time to Laurel from Boise, Idaho. She wore a hat over her short platinum-streaked hair, a purple raincoat and and some soaked-through “waterproof” pants. She complained that the “waterproof” claim was false advertising. She had recently quit her job as a social worker dealing with disabled people and was trying to figure out what to do next. Somehow, we got to talking about teaching English abroad, and she seemed very interested.
When I told her of my loved one and his problems, and how he blocked me on social media while I was in Burgos, she said, “They only do that to the one person they know is safe.” She worked with disabled people who also suffered with mental health issues such as bipolar and schizophrenia disorders.
I never stopped in any more towns, but walked quickly through the straggling hamlets of Pintín, Aguiada, and Hospital, site of a former pilgrim hospital where pilgrims who come from the alternative route to Samos Monastery rejoin the path. We walked through the outskirts of Sarria, a suburb called Vigo de Sarria. By that time, it was alternatively pouring rain and drizzling.
Furela to Pintín (1.7 km) to Hospital (2.0 km) to Vigo de Sarria (3.6 km)
Sarria was a major medieval center for pilgrims, second in size only to Santiago within Galicia. A town of Celtic origins, it has several churches, chapels, monasteries and seven pilgrim hospitals. Sarria is now a bustling modern town with a population of 13,500. It has become a major starting point for pilgrims with limited time but who are anxious to get the pilgrim compostela. Starting in Sarria just covers the required 100km to the cathedral in Santiago.
Vigo de Sarria to Sarria Centro (1.0 km)
I checked into Albergue los Blasones where I got the bottom bunk in a long narrow room full of 24 beds. I claimed the bed nearest the toasty wood burning stove.
After doing my laundry, I hung it in the courtyard out back, under a roof, but the air was so damp and cold, I thought it would probably never dry.
After my regular routine, I went to a cafe where I had a brandy and two packages of Doritos! Then I strolled around the town.
In Sarria, I expected to find the town bustling with new pilgrims, but at least in my walkabouts, it seemed like a ghost town. Maybe it was too late in the year for pilgrims to be starting the last 100 km. The weather was quite miserable after all.
The Casa do Concello was built by the end of the 19th century. It has been a town hall since 1920 and was renovated and expanded in 1998. In addition to the administrative offices and local police office, there are also citizen and pilgrim information services.
I admired the melancholy pilgrim mural on the church wall facing the street and then popped into the Igrexa de Santa Mariña, built in 1885 over a 12th century predecessor; here I got a sello for my pilgrim credenciale and said my usual prayers.
The church was designed by Mr. Dominguez, an architect from Santiago de Compostela. The tower, topped by a pyramidal spire, hosts the public clock. Inside the church are images of Santa Mariña and San Xoán (both patron saints of the village), the crucified Christ, the sepulchre of Juan María Lopez and damaged paintings of the four Evangelists.
My friend Darina happened to make it to Sarria, as she had taken the detour route to Monasterio de Samos and had spent the night there. She had been walking steadily one town or so ahead of me since we’d last met, so I was happy to have our paths converge again. We met for dinner at 6:00, having toast with goat cheese and sun-dried tomatoes, a caprese salad, and a vegetarian burger, which we split.
I told her about all the characters I’d met since I’d seen her last: Greg from B.C., who kept leaving his friend Sean behind while he hightailed it after Beth from Australia; Beth’s meeting Pat, a British firefighter, in a Camino romance; Mike from Prince Edward Island and Susan from Denver; Janice from San Antonio with her locket of ashes. Darina told me all about the amazing monastery at Samos and how much she loved it.
While at dinner, we met three New Zealanders who were starting their Camino the next day. Stella, the mother, was walking with her two daughters Emma and Laura. They were all super friendly.
Darina went off to mass but I was tired and wanted to rest so I went back to my room. I wished later that I had gone along.
At my albergue, the hospitaleros added wood chips to the toasty wood stove at around 10:00 p.m., but when I woke at 1:00 a.m., the stove was cold and so was the room. The rest of the night was quite miserable.
As of today, I had six more days to walk, 117.4 km, or 72.9 miles. 🙂
*Day 41: Sunday, October 14, 2018*
*31,862 steps, or 13.5 miles: Triacastela to Sarria (18.7 km)*
You can find everything I’ve written so far on the Camino de Santiago here:
On Sundays, I post about hikes or walks that I have taken in my travels; I may also post on other unrelated subjects. I will use these posts to participate in Jo’s Monday Walks or any other challenges that catch my fancy.
This post is in response to Jo’s Monday Walk: Morgado do Quintáo.