Friday, July 03, 2009

Day 34 - Sarria - Saturday 23 May 2009

Fonfria -> Sarria (via Samos!) = 35K (Only 115K and I will be in Santiago!)

Despite the steep descent and the extra kilometers I logged on my unintentional detour through Samos, my feet are happy; the band aids are gone and no blisters remain!

The albergue I am so grateful to be in, is most pleasant. I am curled up on a couch near the fireplace in the common room, listening to new-age music and sipping tea. An exuberant kitten is playing hide and seek on the adjacent couch. (There are 8 more cats on the premises.)

Outside, thunder rumbles and a deluge of rain falls. I am glad to be warm and cozy here indoors. I arrived before the rain began. It would be difficult to walk in such a storm.

The days’ walk was lovely for the most part, but longer than I intended. At Tricastela there were two paths and somehow I took the longer route via Samos. The reward for the longer walk was the chance to see a fine 6th century Benedictine monastery with the beautiful renaissance courtyard.

Over coffee in Samos, another pilgrim tells me that I am now in the 11th stage of the Codex Calixtinus. Aymeric Picaud wrote this ancient book detailing the challenges and hardships of the pilgrimage to Santiago. Many pilgrims still use it as a guide.

The last 15K from Samos to Sarria is rural and mostly on a sealed road lined with chestnut trees and oaks. The villages seem deserted except for the large dogs (they resemble German Shepherds) who greet me as I enter each community. They wag their tails, but are a bit wary of strangers.

As I walked through the woods, I ran across the “Gypsy Boy” today (the brother of the delightful French woman who is traveling with her almost-4 year old son). He had a small encampment in the woods and was cooking a lovely lunch of bacon-wrapped meat and some vegetables over hot coals in a small fire pit he had dug beneath a tree. His look is somehow timeless and seeing him in the forest, bent over his cooking, he resembles an old painting depicting life in another century. The image is strong.

Later I see the “Gypsy Boy’s” sister and her blue-eyed boy as they pass the albergue where I am spending the night. The youngster is lured in by the chickens on the lawn. He chases after them, laughing. It is a delightful scene until the rooster, thinking his hens are in danger, attacks the child. That is the end of the fun, at least for a little while. (The documentary film crew materialized and got this adventure on film! I have not seen them since Logrono!)

As I write, the evening meal is being prepared. The smells are inviting. I suspect there will be a tortilla Espanol (a potato omlette) and Caldo Gallego (regional soup). This will be a nice change from the frequent offerings lentejas (lentils) which most albergues prepare for the pilgrim meal.

This is a private albergue, run by two generations of a family. It is a new building and is well designed and the hosts are kind and warm people. After 30 + nights in a different bed every night, I have some opinions on how to run an albergue!

Tomorrow the 100K pilgrims will begin to appear. I have about 600K under my belt now – 100K does not seem like much. But, I am not eager for it to end just yet.

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