Day 8: Distance travelled 13kms. Total ascent 606m
Weather: Cold morning, another clear hot, hot afternoon. Temperature: 33+ degrees
We had been told that the walk to the summit at O Cebreiro was tough but rewarding, and it certainly was both! From Vega de Valcarce it is only just under 13km but the ascent is over 600m (according to my GPS!), which with our possibly-too-full packs we felt keenly! The walk begins with a gentle 3km climb up the valley and through some picturesque villages where there were more signs of well tended gardens, men harvesting potatoes, cattle grazing in green fields.
After the 3km mark things get serious, with the grade increasing from Level1 to Level 4 in parts (for those familiar with cycling grade climbs – for everyone else… it was steep!). Vivid memories of the climb include the constant ringing of distant cowbells, the strong smell of well naturally fertilised fields and gardens, and the harsh contrasts of light as the sun broke through the heavily wooded canopy from time to time.
Closer to the top, the tree cover gives way and offers up fantastic vistas of the surrounding countryside. It truly is a magnificent sight, and given that many walk this part of the Camino and see nothing but mist, we feel very privileged to have crystal clear skies with almost unlimited visibility. It reminded us of the conversation the previous night with the Italian man who had walked another Camino in May of this year and had fourteen consecutive days of rain! Today we also entered into Galacia – which is also know for its changeable weather and frequent rain, neither of which we have yet encountered thankfully! We have been truly blessed with the weather we have experienced so far.
The village O Cebreiro is known for its Galacian palozzas and its 9th Century church building. The pallozas are the Spanish version of Italian trulli, and only found in this part of the country – round stone buildings with straw-thatched rooves. The church, O’Cebreiro Iglesia, in part dates back to the 9th Century and is the oldest church associated with the pilgrim way. Unfortunately, we missed the museum of ethnology which documents life in the town and the palozzas, but did enjoy looking around this quaint village.
The other excitement of the day involved Tgirl8, who in her excitement of reaching the albergue after the walk, tripped while running to the building on the rough stone path and fell awkwardly on her arm, which immediately started to swell and was clearly very painful for her. Thankfully it just so happened a nurse from NZ that we had met earlier in the trip was passing by and confirmed our suspicions of either a severe sprained wrist and elbow, or a possible broken wrist. Kyle actually knew the Spanish work for ice so we managed to get it elevated and iced very quickly. Tomorrow will tell if we have a bus ride to the nearest medical facility or if we will be walking. Tgirl8 has been dosed with painkillers and antiflam and hopefully will get a decent night’s sleep.
The other minor adventure of the day involved trying to find the”food shop” – which in a town of only a dozen or so buildings you would not think would be all that hard! It took us a while, and finally, having disturbed what turned out to be the storekeeper from his afternoon siesta, we found the small stone “store” which had a very limited selection for our lunch, dinner and tomorrow’s breakfast. Dinner ended up being tinned beans and sausage mixed with a jar of chickpeas. Hmmm. Basic cowboy meal – we should have been in Mexico! Still, we were thankful to find the store as we were all hungry, and the thought of having to buy dinner for all eleven of us at elevated tourist prices was too painful to contemplate except in a “real” emergency!
All in all, an eventful day!
Tags: 2012, postcard: Spain