For the second day in a row, I found myself crawling out of my bunk bed; lights off and everyone else in the dorm either asleep or wishing they still were. I understand the feeling. You just walked 22 kilometers the day before, and against your better judgment, or just because you just walked 22 kilometers, you take off with friends to financially support the local cafes and bars until 10:00pm. Now wait, you’re saying that 10:00pm isn’t all that late, and you’re right. The Albergues all lock their doors at somewhere between 10:00pm and 11:00pm, so you don’t have much choice, unless you want to sleep on the doorstep of the Albergue.
So, I creep around in the dark, grab my stuff, and venture into the lit hallway to get dressed and assembled. Out the door once again, and the city is just venturing into the early dawn. I go pass the Mosteiro do Madalena, the cemetery, and across a small bridge, Ponte Aspera, and over the Rio Celeiro. From there, it’s into the countryside heading for Barbadelo and beyond.
This leg of the journey is a continuation through the very rural farmland of Galicia. I am continually passing or walking right through the property and buildings of many farms, where the farmers are well awake by now, and hard at their routines. The women, I noticed, seemed to be in charge of rousing the cattle from their barn stalls, and herding them out into pasture for a morning feed. Whether that is before or after the milking, I do not know. Invariably, there would be one or two dogs assisting in the herding. Speaking of dogs…. They get very large out here, but I have not had a single unpleasant experience with one of these gargantuan animals.
The route, once again, was an up and down effort. Just when you think you might be leveling out on an old, side road, a yellow arrow (The Way) would direct you off the road and down or up a narrow, dirt and rock path; back into a remote, aged forest or along an aged, stone wall that’s defining the fields beyond into ownership. I have thought multiple times as to who would have built such wonderfully constructed walls, and when were they built. They appear to be centuries old.
As for the pilgrims, there out here now, and in numbers. As I have said recently, Sarria is the big entry point for many pilgrims who only have a week off for their adventure, and it’s the Spanish government who has decreed a minimum of 100 kilometers in order to earn the Compostela document. Sarria is 111 kilometers away from Santiago de Compostela. I saw a steady stream of peregrinos – perhaps twenty yards apart and in ones, twos, and groups – stretch out as far as I could see when the view permitted. With each of these final four days, I expect to see more and more until great assemblies, with bused tourists watching, are at the Monte del Gozo, the plateau overlook of the city, Santiago de Compostela. From there, I’m sure the anticipation of entry into the city will be palpable in everyone’s hearts. I know it will be such for me.
Portomarin is a relatively contemporary town, though don’t try to use a credit card at a restaurant; not accepted. It borders a large reservoir, and is most likely a rebuild; the old town being below the waters of the reservoir as I write this post. The Romanesque Church of San Nicholas, twelfth century construction, was rebuilt on its current site at the town square. I’m spending the night at Albergue Ferramenteiro; of a most modern, albergue design with some 130 beds for the masses.
And speaking of bed, it’s time for me to sign off and get my sleep. It’s been a long one.
Enjoy the photos.
Love and God Bless – Reese