Thursday, May 16, 2013

Las Herrerias to Fonfria (part 2)

After leaving Laguna de Castilla, I crossed into the autonomous region of Galicia (photo 1). This area is known for its frequent rain showers and fog, which I had already started to experience. The countryside is dotted with small, intimate fields and lush pastures grazed by cattle, sheep, pigs, geese and chickens. Today I was almost run over by a herd of sheep trotting down the main street of a village and another time two old women were trying to herd a half dozen dairy cows down a main street, leaving their "pies" along the way.
At the top of the 4,000 ft peak, I visited
O'Cebreiro Iglesia, one of the earliest surviving buildings on the Camino. (Photo 2) Also known as the Iglesia de Santa Maria Real, it dates, in part, from the 9th century and is the oldest extant church associated directly with the pilgrim way. This church turned out to be the most spiritual place I have yet experienced on the Camino. I was privileged to be alone in the sanctuary (photo 3) and gave thanks for my safe journey so far, prayed for those who are suffering on their travels, and asked for continued guidance in all things. The simplicity of this church had a very ecumenical feel for me and that might be what I liked most about it.
When I emerged from the church, I was greeted with a blizzard -- on May 15, no less. I was told by another pilgrim that the same thing happened the exact same day last year. I wanted to look around the other stone buildings (photo 4) that had been part of a monastic settlement dating to the 11th C, but I decided I needed to get down off the mountain.
The rest of the day's walk was met with intermittent weather patterns and clothing adjustments. I walked with a number of interesting people - a college professor from Wisconsin who now lives in Mexico, an Austrian man and some young Spanish men. Some of us stopped to have our photo taken (photo 5) at Alto de San Roque with an imposing statue of a medieval pilgrim.
After several more kilometers, we hit another high point, Alto do Polo, the highest spot on the Camino in Galicia at 4,380 ft.
From there it was downhill to Fonfria, my destination for the day and a completion of about 13 miles. Casa Nunez was a combination albergue (a Reboleira) and private rooms. My private room with bath was only 26€.
Michelle had already arrived and we joined about 30 other pilgrims for a shared meal in one of those round, thatched roof buildings, or pallozas. Photo 5 is a picture from the window of my room of the dining hall, complete with snow flurries. We can only wonder what tomorrow's weather will bring!

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