Yesterday I walked from La Gudina to Campobecerios 20 kms of the most beautiful vistas I have ever seen.
I thought that the day wasn´t getting off to a good start because just after I got up three Spanish cyclists the only ones left in the albergue turned on some sort of music device quite loud and sang along with what I took to be popular songs. They were good sized guys in their 20´s and 30´s and frankly I felt a little threatened by their behaviour. But then I listened to the words of the songs which I could make out and found that these were hymns hyped up somewhat to contemporary sounds. And these guys where not the least threatening, they were giving me big smiles. A lesson which keeps reappearing on this camino – don´t judge!
I walked out of town in brilliant sunshine and into some kind of paradise. Frankly before coming on this camino I felt that I would not experience the equal of the magnificent vistas of the mountains on the Camino Frances but boy was I wrong.
I walked all day at the height of 1,000 metres looking down at valleys several hundred metres below. And there was not just one valley. At times I was looking at valley meeting mountain giving way to another valley all in splendid succession as far as the eye could see. And everytime I would round a corner on the mountain ridge there was a completely new perspective.
The highlight of the day was when I came round a corner and to my AMAZEMENT there was a valley 400 metres below completely filled with an absolutely pristine lake with no sign of human activity and mountains rising from it on all sides.
Before I left Canada I copied some hymn sheets to bring with me in case the occasion arose when I would want to sing praise to God. This was the exact moment when it was completely appropriate. So there I was singing hymn after hymn on top of the mountain with this glorious sight and nobody to hear me but God! After that figuratively, emotionally, spiritually and truly I felt God holding the universe in the palm of his hand.
Seeing these vistas hour after hour made human crafted wonders of the world seem like pretty mundane things.
Arriving at the tiny village of Campobecerios I was absolutely beat – tired and sore. The last half hour I had been carefully picking my way down an very steep path towards the village and all day I had been climbing and descending. Walking mountain tops is not flat work.
There was a Casa Rural in this town which is a home or a bar with rooms or a dormitory attached. I found this one and entered to ask for accommodation and the man behind the bar said ¨None available¨ Well my face fell until it must have been close to floor. Seeing this he said ¨Momento¨and went into the back room to speak with his wife. Several minutes later they both emerged and said ¨Si¨and led me to a beautiful room with 2 three quarter wide beds, private bath and a balcony with a view of the mountains. I was in heaven. I don´t know what I would have done if they hadn´t relented because it was late and I don´t think I had it in me to walk on through the mountains for another 14 kms to the next town.
Anyway they took good care of me and served me a good dinner that evening which I shared with a couple of big burly men. This morning I went into the bar for breakfast before starting out and there were my two companions from the night before with six other men all outfitted for hunting with their shotguns on every table in the bar opèn at the breech. One of the men had a picture of a wild boar on the back of his jacket and there was also a boar´s head mounted in the bar. So I asked if that is what they were hunting and the answer was yes.
I then put two and two together and came up with what I think was four. My hosts at the Casa Rural are putting these guys up for the weekend and weren´t sure how to fit me in but sensed my plight and found a way. Angels abound on the camino and some of them live there!
This wasn´t the smallest town I went through this day but it wasn´t big. There were two bars in town but no tienda or market store of any kind. Vans drove in from the highways with all sorts of foodstuffs and other necessaries and sold from the vehicle. There were three streets in town but one was dead end.
I visited the little church and the larger graveyard and found that with very few exceptions there were only four families represented – Rolad, Castro, Nunez and Perez. When the married women died their tombstones always gave their maiden names before the married one. So there were a lot of Nunez Castro, Castro Perez, Nunez Rolad and so on.
This morning dawned another glorious day – actually cold but bright sunshine. It warmed up a little during the day but not a lot. It was another day of magnificent vistas and after about an hour of uphill climb the rest of the day was downhill into a valley and turning another corner I was surprised to find that the mountains were completely covered with pine trees – a complete contrast to the scrubby grass and rock covering the mountains the last few days.
Tomorrow is a big challenge with a climb right away of over 500 metres of steep slope and over 20 kms to cover.
I am staying in Laza right now in a lovely modern albergue and so far am the only occupant. I haven´t seen a peregino in the last two days. I did a washing when I first arrived but I am concerned that there is not enough heat in the sunshine to dry the clothes. I may be carrying them tomorrow in a plastic bag in the backpack.
There is mass in the village church tonight at 8 pm and then dinner in the restaurant recommended by my Confraternity buddy, Laurie.
Thank you all for your interest in the blog and I will keep you informed at every opportunity.