Sunday, October 14, 2012

O Cebreiro > Tricastela > Sarria > Portomarin

We walked to O Cebreiro in the rain and arrived soggy. We changed into our dry clothes and then spent a rainy afternoon and evening walking from shops to cafes and visiting with pilgrim friends. By the time we fell into bed, we had very little dry clothing left and even less hope that any of our damp things would dry out overnight.

It rained all night but morning greeted us with nothing harsher than a cold mist. So we fortified ourselves with cafe con leche and hit the trail.

The guidebook promised we would start the day on 'a delightful downhill path winding through enchanting woodlands.' Reality proved to be a steep path climbing a further kilometer (or two) before descending for the remaining 12-14 kms into Tricastela The good news was that though the descent was often steep and rocky, the rain had stopped so we were not contending with wet and slippery.

Our B&B was on the westernmost edge of Tricastela. Happily, it is a small and level town. We checked in, took our showers, hand washed our clothes and hung them out on the balcony before going in search of our meal. While it was not raining, the air was heavy with humidity and temps were quite chilly. We were not optimistic about the likelihood of dry clothes by morning. Two straight days of clammy polyester shirts - ick.

We woke to more mist and chill, dressed in our still damp clothes, and lashed soggy socks to our packs (hoping that there would be sun to dry them on our backs as we walked); but it continued to drizzle, so we tossed our ponchos on over top of the whole shebang and squelched our way out of town.

This day's destination was Sarria. Sarria is the last town of any size on the Camino that is more than 100 km from Santiago. Consequently, it has long been a traditional starting place for pilgrims who wish to walk only the final 100 km required to obtain a *compostela* (certificate of completion). We have been joined by tour groups of peregrinos, fresh to the trail, chattering and stopping often to photograph one another. We veteran pilgrims just shake our heads, exchange knowing glances, and keep walking to a steady rhythm.

I am carrying my pack again, having been pack-free since leaving Astorga; and this day would test whether I was back to full strength. While it was a long walk, I found I was able to keep up the pace and we arrived in Sarria weary but in plenty of time to find shops still open and to purchase the
bits and pieces we needed to replace dwindling supplies.

As we were climbing towards our albergue - literally climbing several flights of stone steps - a pilgrim woman we had never seen before came running up to Dad and asked,"Are you from Texas?" When he replied in the affirmative, she said,"I've heard about you! A Canadian lady showed me your photo and told me about you." Yes, his fame is spreading up and down the Camino. Now that there are photos, there are also 'celebrity sightings' of Harold from Houston.

We had a good rest that night at the albergue (where they offered laundry service-oh the rhapsodies that I could sing about clean, dry clothes!). We left Sarria about 8:35 a.m. and by noon had passed the marker indicating the point at which Santiago was only another 100km away. A truly important (and literal) milestone of the journey.

Coming into Portomarin, we crossed a long and dizzyingly high bridge over the river Mino, only to find at the end a tall set of stone steps leading up to town. Dad marched up them without hesitation. I took a picture as he started the climb and then followed him up. The view was spectacular. The rain had stopped. We were dry and now within 90 km of Santiago.

We found our hotel, rinsed out a few things and then checked our maps. If knees and weather hold, and if all else goes as expected, we should walk into Santiago this Friday!


  1. We are so proud to know you Harold! Can't wait to hear all about your pilgrimage when you get back. Onward!

    - Home Sweet Farm

  2. Wow. Wow. Wow. I can't believe you'll be there so soon!


  3. Clean, dry clothes and hot showers. Yes, I really appreciate civilization.