Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Camino Day 7 - moss and forests to O'Cebreiro

We have had a beautiful walk today. We followed a small road from Trabadelo and through a few villages, it was magnificent!

Today we were joined by Ashala, an American (San Francisco) woman we met on Day 2 (route to Astorga). We had dinner together last night and ot was lovely to have her company on the road today. She has gone through to a town ahead of us but we should see her at some stage tomorrow or the next.

The road wound through  the Valcarce valley, following the meandering bends of the Rio Valcarce. Overhead and below were towering trees and a beautifully fresh and damp scent perfumed the air. We could also see the shallow river gurgling between the trees.

The gradient started off fairly gentle over those first 10.5km but then after Las Herrerías the climb kicked in.

And what a delight this proved to be. A stoney, cobbled track that ascended through even more wonderful forest, complete with some moss-covered stone walls.

We passed through La Faba and continued up a very muddy track. Cattle had clearly squelched through here earlier - churned up mud, hoof prints and cow poop. In the town we saw a home where the people live 'upstairs' and below the house is a barn for cattle and horses.

Up this ridge we were out of the trees and in the open, soaking up the sun's warmth, which was finally making it through the cloud cover.

The vegetation on the ridges, where they haven't cleared small patches for grazing, is shrub and gorse with bracken adding shades of orange and brown. We were able to look down the Valcarce valley - trying to make out where we'd come from.

The distances passed quickly and soon we were in O'Cebreiro, our stop for today. At the entrance to the town is a traditional Galician palloza, a stone house with a rounded shape and thatched roof (very different to African huts / rondavels). This one has been restored and inside it is setup with simple handcarved wooden furniture (and plates and bowls) much like it would have been a few centuries ago. Under the wide, circular roof, a barn was included to shelter animals.

We went through to the iglesia to take a look. This church is one of the earliest surviving buildings on the Camino route. Part of it dates back to the 9th century!

This is a helluva cute town and one can see why it is a popular vehicular tourist stop too. The stone buildings are beautiful.

We're staying in the municipal hostel - a building constructed especially for this purpose). There must be 40 bunks in our big room (there must be another room or two as this place can sleep just over 100 people). 6€ each.

Walking out of our dorm two friends asked if we'd showered. We answered that we'do heard that the showers were cold.

"Lukewarm," said Steph.

"And naked," said Leila.

The showers have dividers, but no doors. When we returned an hour later we had hot showers and no company - thank goodness! What I do like is the foot-pedal-operated tap for the basins. Very neat and low on wasting water.

Just after we arrived, we headed into the town for a drink and snack. This is pulpo territory. Octopus. I have eaten calamari (squid) dozens of times but never actual octopus. A restaurant specialising in octopus is called a pulparia - and there have been a number around recently. We ordered a plate and while it is not the most attractive item to eat, it was very tasty and well prepared.

An Australian woman, who is walking the Camino, is a concert harpist. She has her 'travelling harp', which she sends ahead each day. She gave a lovely impromptu recital outside the church this evening - it was lovely.

Along the route and in the overnight towns we've been making friends and bumping into recently-made friends. We've seen a good bunch in town this evening and tonight we shared a table with Steph and Leila (Canadian), who we shared a room with last night (and they stayed at the same place as us the night before last).

My foraging continued today with a stash of chestnuts collected - no where the abundance of yesterday. I hope to get more tomorrow and then to cook them. I also foraged more walnuts but they're not ripe. What I did learn from a man in La Faba, who was washing crates of them, is that you have to wait a month from when the nuts pop out of their pods until you can eat them. I also enjoyed a couple of sweet blackberries from a roadside bush.

Tomorrow we lose the climbs and have gentle gradients for the first 15km and then a descent to Tricastela. The route distance is around 21km. For this kind of distance we're probably out on the trail for about seven hours, with stops.

Mom has been in fine form. She hasn't had a post-walk afternoon nap for two days! She is doing well and is loving the scenery and the route and the people (and an afternoon cerveza.

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