Camponayera made me leave very late because of the excruciating weather. Back to night walking it is apparently. This time however was probably the latest I had ever started walking since it was already 2000h. Before that was neigh impossible however. The road was nice and it was still hot and moist. People going for a walk in droves without masks was also a pleasant sight, some were supportive of me and others kept their distance. Its whatever. Police and me crossed paths at a point but they only asked if I had enough water, I had enough of course but still a very nice gesture and I hoped for the fact that they would be more friendly and welcoming in Galicia in general due to pilgrims being the lifeblood of the province basically.
O’Cebreiro is a quaint little mountain town in original Galician style on top of the mountain dividing 2 Spanish departments (Castille y Leon – Galicia).I had visited the town 6 years ago weirdly enough hitchhiking on the way back and I had good memories about the place.
When I arrived in a town called Villafrance del Bierzo I decided to take advantage of a 4* wildcamping spot however. The town was built on both sides of a gorge of sorts and at the beginning there was the aforementioned 4* camping spot meaning: a nice patch of grass, somewhat secluded and sheltered, a poweroutlet on the outside of the building to recharge my powerbank, a faucet with some water, pretty perfect. The mountain range isolating Galicia from the rest of Spain was a little bit too much for me to just run through. Also the fact that my shoes were absolutely shot and I twisted my ankle about 3-4 times a week didn’t make things any better. Im just happy they didn’t twist all the way and if I took a moment and/or kept walking the pain usually subsided, no idea about the long term damage however.
The next day I woke up and went for a food run in the town, leaving my tent and other belongings next to the municipal albergue. To my surprise there were all kinds of terraces and restaurants open and I stopped and asked what was going on. Apparently the government lifted the lockdown by a good amount and people were allowed to be social again. This being a waiver apparently for everyone to go about socializing like nothing had ever happened and the Rona was defeated all together.. Then again, if the 2ndwave will come its best to face it slightly intoxicated and among friends. The vibe in the town was friendly and people were enjoying being led of the leash and I continued walking through the valleys towards my final climb into Galicia itself. At the foot of the mountain I found a good campspot in a play area for children that had water and I decided to hold off on crossing the mountain just one more day. My parents had my brother and his girlfriend over for a bbq and damn that sure sounds good at this point. It was nice to talk to them either way.
The next day I didn’t waste much time and went on my way, little valley towns following a windy river where people were surprised to see me, some happy and some unhappy with my presence there. Police pulled me over for a personal Groovid-19 session and I rolled a cigaret and read a little bit with Lucy on my lap while they were checking my passport. I had not a shred of doubt anymore at this point about being sent home or being incarcerated and apparently they were able to pick up on that energy as they were at a loss of words as to what to do with me. I’d seen it all at this point and they soon sent me on my marry way.
Coming up the mountain and crossing into Galicia province was gorgeous, rain clouds being pushed over the mountain in a sunset is always a beautiful sight to behold. I already knew that it also meant that I would be walking in fog soon, if not rain. The rain wasn’t there thank God but the fog and the wind were pretty heavy but I just kept pushing on. At some point there were lights along the path and I was curious as to why but it turned out O’Cebreiro was just around the corner. Love it to just stroll into the place where youre going without actually realizing it. I went to the same place I wildcamped last time and parked my tent in front of the church on a grass patch under a few trees. The temperature had dropped dramatically but nothing compared to France 1 year ago, I only barely got reminded of these distant days that seemed more like a dream than reality. In the town itself everything was closed, for lockdown purposes and for the fact that there hasn’t been a tourist in the last 3 months. The light was on at a restaurant but when I knocked on the door the lady said she didn’t serve anyone at this time. Its fine, I would have turned down myself as well. The night was cold and windy and I was hungry, but its all good since its homestretch now baby.
The next day people were talking around the church where I slept and I had the opportunity to go to the mass. The people looked at me weird and surprised but they were friendly, I was even able to scoop up a stamp for the collection, the lady had to adjust the stamp with the date and she told me the last pilgrim that came through here was 20 March earlier that year.
I decided to go back to the same restaurant as yesterday and the lady who turned me away previous evening was ecstatic, reiterating what the lady in the church told me – the first pilgrim. Irena (her name) did have food now and she took a picture for her social media whatever of me eating there, her husband José walking stoically around the restaurant. A fine salad with some Galician meat that Lucy really enjoyed and she also gave me some bread for the road. After breakfast I packed my stuff and swung by again to drink a coffee and say goodbye.
I continued on the journey and the mountain paths winding over the ridges of the mountains was beautiful with little mountain towns that were sprinkled throughout. I found out there were enough albergues and hostels but not a lot of water fountains like I had found in the rest of Spain. I crossed a village called Fonfria and I walked by a house where a guy was smoking on the porch. It seemed like a dairy processing plant and I asked them if they had any food, at first they said no but the girlfriend of the guy overheard me and held up a big chunk of white cheese called Casa Torre. Bless them both! I also hung on to a piece of bread that I got this morning from Irena and I was able to take a nice break with something that could pass for dinner. With the honey, a little bit of spice and my hunger, it didn’t taste half bad. Today was also my brothers birthday and I had a nice phonecall.
Free cheese, give them a call!
In a sea of fireflies I did my descend down the mountain through different villages, where there were a lot of dogs barking, they would alarm the dogs in the village over and I kind of felt bad for alarming all the villages on the mountain side in the middle of the night but I didn’t have much of a choice, sneaky – I was not. I came across an ancient oak that I wish I could have photographed during the daytime since it was fucking impressive. The thing was apparently there for the last 700 years or so and I could only wonder with how many pilgrims it seen pass by.
Lucy and me felt good and we decided to finally settle in for the night in Triacastella in the middle of a field before the pilgrim hostel. Lucy is already in the tent and Im sitting on a bench being tired and fatigued as fuck. Just roll a cigaret and then go to sleep. Theres a light fog over the grassfield originating from the river not far away. As Im sitting completely silent for a moment with my shoes off I hear some rustling in the tree beside me and before I could react, a martyr crawls out of the tree and comes towards me. It probably mistook my feet for food as they start to smell alike at this point. As soon as it noticed that the feet was attached to a person however, it made its escape. Weird, surreal moment to be honest.