Saturday, October 15, 2011

Camino De Santiago: Day 25--La Faba to Fonfria

I've returned to the habit of using Camino metaphors for just about everything in my life at the moment (which...don't worry, I know is annoying), so I thought I would channel my Camino nostalgia and bring you blog readers to the finish line! Vamos!

The truth of the matter is that day 25 on the Camino felt magical

It also felt painful...but that wasn't till later. 

Because of the surrounding mountains the sun took even longer than usual to peak out...

which gave the horizon an even more magical quality. 

 It was the kind of thing where you felt the need to stop and take a picture every five steps (which...was also a great excuse to catch your breath on the steep climb!)

After a while I caught up to my Sevillan Camino friends. We knew we were closing in on the town of O'Cebreiro because we heard the church bells ringing. We looked at our watches and couldn't figure out why the bells were ringing though (it was not close to the hour). Then we turned to our right and realized we were next to a barn and the sound was actually coming from cow bells inside. 


I still find it to be pretty hilarious though.

We were excited to find the way marker that told us we were now entering the region of Galicia--the region that included Santiago! Our excitement plus the fact that Maica is half Gallego meant we needed a picture to remember the moment. 

Hello Galicia!

A little bit later we ran into yet another sign telling us that we were now entering Galicia...So we took another picture. 

We caught up with Juanma to find him counting the tree rings in this massive tree stump. The number was getting quite high before he gave it up. 

As we got higher and higher in the mountains, we literally were walking through the clouds. 

The thick air on your skin, the excitement of making it to our final region, and the mysterious spirit of Galicia gave everything a fairytale-like quality.  

The town of O'Cebreiro (which I mispronounced the first 100 times to Juanma's chagrin) had some examples of the historical Galician round stone buildings. Galicia has strong Celtic roots, and  you can definitely feel it--in the stone structures, the music and the rainy hills.

People have been living in this spot since ancient times. This church was built on the foundations of a pre-Romanesque church

We got stamps for our Camino passports inside, and I picked up a second passport as I was all but out of space in my first one. Also, when you get to Galicia, they like for you to get two stamps per day--up until that point I mostly only got stamps each evening when I checked into the hostels. Cathedrals, churches, museums, and even some bars had stamps, too. When you finally get to Santiago, they check through your Camino passport/credentials to make sure that you have stamps from each place proving you walked each stage. 

Facing the village of O'Cebreiro from the doors of the church

Galicia is known for having strong mystic traditions. Once you walk through the regions forests you understand how witches are still popular around here. 

We made it up the hill outside of town as the clouds started to break. We stopped and rested on the base of the pilgrim statue and ate some piquislabis (snacks). Somewhere that day I had picked up a bag of dried apricots that, for some reason, I felt the need to try to make everyone around me eat. When we stopped later there were a bunch of cyclists taking a break. I tried to force feed them apricots, too. The only thing was that I could never remember the word for dried aprictos (something sounding like the word for ear I think--see, I still can't remember). It's easier to talk people into sharing your snack when you actually know what its called.

We'd all need the energy from those dried apricots because the toughest part of the day was upon us. You have a steep climb all the way up to O'Cebreiro (you go up 600 meters in 10k). Once there you dip up and down until you get to the steep climb to Alto do Poio. 

Whew. The last part of the climb was almost vertical. I still had my two walking sticks and was practically pulling myself up. We heard of a lady who was determined to make it up and resorted to climbing on all fours...which really didn't sound to outrageous when you were there.

I don't have any pictures of the climb, well, because I didn't have the energy to take out my camera.

When Maica and I made it to the top Juanma was waiting and cheering for us at the cafe on top. Maica bought us all a celebratory round of juice and Juanma signed us all into the guestbook inside to document the fact that, yes, we conquered Alto do Poio! (He even went back inside and change it when he realized he misspelled my name).

Just outside the cafe I left my extra walking stick and off we went again. 

From then on, Alto do Poio became our rallying cry--If we could make it up Alto do Poio, we could do anything!

Another casi (almost) arrow which I warmly welcomed as we finally made it to Fonfria.

Once in Fonfria we realized there was nothing to the town besides the hostel and a little restaurant. After such a long day I was perfectly fine with that.

Perhaps it was just the beautiful and long day of climbing effecting our appetites, but we ate really well. Since we were finally in Galicia, Maica ordered pulpo (octopus), which is Galicia is famous for. 

We made it back to the albergue and I stayed there for the rest of the evening. I splurged and machine washed all my clothes, took a nap, and stared out the windows in the warm common room until it was time to hit the sack. 

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