A Travellerspoint blog

Day 23 Triacastela – Moimentos 39km (via Samos)

Today I pass through Sarria, which signals the last 100km to Santiago. The Camino becomes packed with Spanish people at the start of their school holidays, big groups of teenagers that march along chattering and laughing. The atmosphere of the Camino quickly changes, there are fast moving 16 year olds with tiny back packs planning a five day walk from Sarria to Santiago. 100km is all you need to get a compostela, or certificate of having done the Camino.

French people are hilarious sometimes. They will devoutly speak French to everyone even though it's clear they understand nothing. Many of them will make no effort to speak Spanish even though this is Spain. Learn a bit! I stop walking for the day in a great little hostel in Moimentos, with coloured chairs outside and showers with huge roses that fire water at you not only from above but 360 degrees. It's surround water. Last night I was in a muni (municipal albergue) for 5 Euros with cold showers, tonight I am in luxury, things change! I meet up with a lovely German girl who I last saw a week ago and we swap Camino and travel stories. She tells me her favourite place in the world is Ireland because there are so many different greens, I really have to see this country!

I really feel that I've been living out of a back pack now for too long (it's about three months since I left home) because I've just pulled out a bra to find it's covered with big blue patches of mould like puffy fabric paint. Urgh! Soon I will have somewhere to wash all my clothes and dry them, soon, soon! I hear a great joke tonight in Spanish that doesn't quite translate but I'll try anyway. First you need to know that in Spanish the word anteater translates as antbear, and the word for wolf translates as wolfdog. So, two animals meet in the forest, a wolfdog and an antbear. The antbear says to the wolfdog, “what are you? I have never seen anything like you in my life.” And the wolfdog responds, “I am a wolfdog, my mother was a wolf and my father was a dog. What are you?” And the antbear responds, “I am an antbear, my mother was ...”

Posted by CharliePepper 09:59 Archived in Spain Tagged friends spain fun santiago hike de camino pamplona roncesvalles albergues refugios saint-jean pied-de-port Comments (0)

Day 22 La Faba – Triacastela 22km

Gently the path climbs up and down little hills to Triacastella and I look down over a chequered blanket of green hills and I feel like a bird flying for almost the whole day. It's cold and windy up here, but it's not raining. It can be a really rainy part of the Camino though, so it's a good idea to have thin waterproofs and something to cover your pack.

I arrive at my destination and lounge in a pocket of afternoon sunshine and finish the Graham Green book I found in San Anton. There is an excellent quote towards the end, “hatred is just a lack of creativity.” I watch the pellegrinos arrive in Triacastella, so many different types of people from so many different places. One French man, who is so hot in the Spanish Sun, has decided to take his trousers off and hike in his underwear. (But, he is still wearing his shirt... this is so French.)

I make some new friends who tell me my English is very good;
“I'm from Australia” I say,
“Yes, but you speak good English”
“It's my first language”
“Really? I thought they spoke French in Australia.”

Tonight I am hungry, and I manage to have missed the supermercado which is now cerrado and when I get back to the albergue I must look hungry because an Italian stops me and mimes eating with his hands, and asks me in Spanish if I'm hungry. “Si, pochito!” I respond, hoping there will be a little bit left over from somebody's dinner. Instead, the Italian has set a place for me at a table and within seconds has started to cook. He pulls out a chair, pours me some wine, and cooks – you guessed it, pasta, amazing pasta! I really can't imagine the Camino without Italians. He wont let me help, I'm not even allowed to do the dishes. He explains with a mixture of English, Spanish and Italian that he is a chef in Madrid and that he loves to cook for people.

Posted by CharliePepper 09:57 Archived in Spain Tagged friends spain fun santiago hike de camino pamplona roncesvalles albergues refugios saint-jean pied-de-port Comments (0)

Day 21 Cacabelos – La Faba 33km

I have just passed some cows in a field, beautiful terracotta coloured cows with their calves sleeping in the sunshine. I wonder what cows think about... The following is a diary entry for a calf (imagine it shaking its floppy ears about and lolling on the grass like a kitten):

“I like the meadow soooo much because it is big and green and you can eat it. Today it is hot so mama and I are laying down in the sun which is not something cows do very often. Whenever mama eats grass, I eat grass. Whenever mama flicks her tail, I flick my tail. I am a most excellentist copier. I like being a cow. It's much better than being a horse. The horses in the next field are so snotty, they wont talk to me at all even though I'm beautifully cute and everybody says so even the farmer. I have big brown eyes and really, really long eyelashes and I like being a cow. I can go mooo and drink lots and lots of milk yummm... I ask mama why she doesn't drink milk and she says it's because she can't reach so I try to spit some into her mouth but she doesn't like this and tells me to piss off to the other side of the meadow. This means I have to sit near the horses who stare at me in a really mean way. I have a really long tongue. Did you know it's so long I can touch the end of my nose with it? Watch... I like it. I like being a cow. Grass is nice and soft. When I grow up I want to make lots and lots of milk, but mama says I can't because I am a boy cow. She says when I'm old enough I'll go to the abbatoir and learn more about being a cow. I am looking forward to it a whole lot! “Yawn” I get so sleepy being a cow, and the sunshine is so warm and the grass is so soft I think I'm going to...”

No more cow diary entries, I promise. I'm walking along this afternoon minding my own Camino business when an old farmer, replete with cow and German Shepherd, stops me. He starts speaking Spanish in an extremely fast and enthusiastic way.
“Perdon, no ablos Espagnol!” I try to slip away and keep on walking, but he's persistent and blocks the path quite successfully with the cow the dog and himself.
“Todo solo?” He asks me, “Porque no companiero?” Why are you all alone?
“Si, solo”
I shrug my shoulders, you tell me I think.
“Camino! ... El Camino estas Camino d'amour … que juanita … ” I'm not entirely sure what he's saying, but it's along the lines of; the Camino is the Camino of love, you must have someone to walk with you, you are very beautiful, why don't you have anyone to walk with you...” I really don't know what this farmer wants me to say so I just shrug my shoulders a couple-hundred more times and scramble up the hill the next chance I get.

Before La Faba you might see HELL STARTS HERE scrawled across the path in large chalk letters, but it's crazy! This climb is beautiful, shady and not so steep. La Faba itself is such a cute little village and so scenic that it's arguably paradise, and not hell at all, as my hospitaleros point out. Still, my legs ache at the end of the day and it's so difficult to nap or sleep. They ache in no particular place, just all over everywhere my muscles twitch and hurt after my shower until they cool down and finally relax.

There are two excellent options for albergues in La Faba. The veggie refugio is chilled and hippie-ish with a communal meal, and the municipal albergue is run by lovely German people. I head to the bar to relax and read, but the Spanish men decide to play a really fun game of buying me wine until I am incapable of dense-furniture-navigation. I don't get much reading done and eventually have to escape back to the hostel. It's so difficult to refuse food and drink here! They are very persistent, so persistent that one of my friends who had been a vegan for four years diverted to a carnivore because people were too offended every time he refused the meat they tried to feed him.

Posted by CharliePepper 09:54 Archived in Spain Tagged friends spain fun santiago hike de camino pamplona roncesvalles albergues refugios saint-jean pied-de-port Comments (0)

Day 20 Manjarin – Cacabelos 38km

I head out early from Manjarin after a lovely breakfast with everyone. I'm walking with a Polish girl who tells me that in Poland, if they don't want to wash for a day, they say “I'm having a child's day” and everybody knows what it means – you can't be bothered showering. I see the sunrise today, pink light as though on a projection screen appearing behind the big blue shadows of far away mountains. The flame coloured butterflies ignite and extinguish around me all morning and I walk slowly along watching the landscapes and the towns change. We are now heading into Galecia, a tropical soup on the other side of this mountain range, where the plants are larger, greener, and they have more fruit. One town today is almost Swiss or German in design with little country houses and a big river. And, I must apologise to the old lady in the town after Manjarin – I'm sorry for squashing the roses in your window box. I didn't mean to drop my bag on them...

Pulpo (or squid) is one of the specialities of this region and you have to try it while you're here. There are so many towns on the route today, many places to stop for lunch or a break. There is a great little Artesan bread shop and in Ponferrada there is a castle to go and see. I decide to stop in Cacabelos which beats Ponferrada castle or no castle. Cacabelos has a rio pico (little river) you can swim in and an old cobblestone bridge. It's just so pretty and full of bikelgrinos (pellegrinos on bikes). On my way into this town a family of rabbits with rabbit kittens hop about on the path back and forth with a blatant disregard for cars and pilgrims.

Another useful Spanish word I've learnt is claro; claro means “it's clear” or “ok” and Spaniards use it all the time. I've decided that a direct translation of the word “kilometres” isn't possible in Spanish, or at least it must be a very complex notion, because every single signpost has a different definition – to the point where 2km could mean anywhere from ten seconds down the road to 3hrs further on.

Posted by CharliePepper 09:52 Archived in Spain Tagged friends spain fun santiago hike de camino pamplona roncesvalles albergues refugios saint-jean pied-de-port Comments (0)

Day 19 Astorga – Manjarin 32km

I'm not sure if I'm going mad, becoming schizophrenic or if I've just been walking alone for too many days, but my mind, heart and body have begun to take on different and separate persona. OK, I'm probably mad, but it's amusing. Essentially, my mind thinks it can do anything it wants and makes crazy suggestions (like walking 60km in one day), my body protests and my heart has to mediate between the two. It sounds something like this:

Mind: OK, we'll stop in Foncebadon, have a drink, go on to Manjarin and maybe a bit further.
Body: Are you serious? I need some lunch in Fonceblawhatever, have you seen the size of this hill?
Heart: Shhh
Mind: So what, you can do it! Together we are invincible! Besides, you're not even out of breath
Body: That doesn't mean I can do another 12km!
Mind: What's 12km really, it's just a 1 and a 2, go faster.
Body: We've already walked 26km! Stop rushing me! I'll cause you pain
Heart: Hey! Chill out! We'll stop for lunch in Foncebadon, rest your feet – and if you feel like it we'll go on
Mind: Pffft, we're definitely going further than F-
Heart: You're not helping! Be quiet! We'll rest and then we'll see.
Body: I can feel a hot spot under my toes – I think it's blistering
Mind: Hypochondriac
Body: Slavedriver
Heart: Do I have to listen to this the whole way to Santiago?
Mind-Body: Yes
Body: It's hot, I want some water
Mind: We're nearly there
Body: But there's shade here, let's just stop for a minute
Heart: I think we should stop
Mind: Fine, make it quick.

I stop under the shade of a tree.

Mind: Oh, that's pretty
Heart: Yeah those clouds are really swirly
Body: Shade is awesome. Whoever invented it was fucking cool.

Somehow the three of us make it to Manjarin. Staying here is an experience. It's an abandoned town, and the people running the albergue have converted what used to be a school into their house and a donativo refugio for pellegrinos. There are four men that run the place, they have lived here (in the middle of no-where) for 20 years, they are three Spanish brothers originally from Barcelona an one man from Estonia who came to live here when he was 21 and never left. The brothers groom him to look like JC – it's an interesting establishment. There's no running water. The brothers have their own Knight's Templar ceremony that they complete every night at 9pm, (with a sword and white robes). They make an amazing evening meal, there are ten billion cats, three dogs, and definitely a real pilgrim experience. We're sleeping in a sun toasted loft on mattresses and there's an outside drop toilet and a small fountain down the road to wash in. They also get drinking water from this fountain which has a large sign saying do not drink the water. JC tells us (in Spanish) that September is the best time of year to do the Camino. There's fresh fruit everywhere; cherries, raspberries, pears apples and peaches. July and August are too hot, apparently, and another pellegrino tells me a story about doing the Villa de la Plata in July and seeing birds fall out of the sky – dead – because it was so hot.

The route here was so beautiful; small rocky mountain passes with lots of trees and bushy woodland, and more strange looking bugs. The butterflies today were red and orange and looked like flames as they flit across the path in front of me. Butterflies on the Camino are supposed to be a sign of the right path, that things are going well and you're headed in the right direction. Before you get to Manjarin there is the funky town of Foncebadon, which has four fun albergues you can stay in if you don't like the sound of Manjarin. The first one on the left (second in the town) is really chilled, and if you stop for lunch you might get a free marriage proposal with your ensalata if you're lucky like me!

Posted by CharliePepper 09:48 Archived in Spain Tagged friends spain fun santiago hike de camino pamplona roncesvalles albergues refugios saint-jean pied-de-port Comments (0)

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