But it was too late for second thoughts. Putting myself and my amigos in the hands of Santiago, we set off in the still cool Triacastela morning.
First of all, I had to make sure my little henro was on board for the journey. This is a little
wooden charm of a traditional Japanese pilgrim, called a henro. I found him on a pilgrimage
to Koya-san, most sacred Buddhist mountain in Japan. He would be my good luck charm,
looped around the strap of my trekking pole. Together, we would walk and finish this Camino.
A few hundred meters after we started, I came upon this shoe placed on one of the ubiquitous camino markers we would see all throughout the way. Someone had written on it -- Santiago or Bust. I took as a sign from Santiago -- whatever happens, we would get to our goal!
Day 1 took us from Triacastela, passing first through the small village of San Xil. We saw this lovely stone chapel along the pilgrim road. Unfortunately it was still closed so we were not able to get our sello or stamp for the day.
The scallop shell is a symbol of the Camino. Along with yellow arrows and camino markers, scallop shells guide pilgrims along the way. We came upon this giant scallop in front of a water trough and surprise, surprise, we met a fellow Filipina, walking the Camino by herself. She quickly became an honorary Amigo.
The scenery along the way was just breathtaking. Galicia is known for its lush greenery -- due to the cooler climate and frequent rainfall.
The uphill climb on the first day was gradual and as I took frequent short breaks to catch my breath, the view uplifted my spirits as well.
I was completely awestruck by the marvellous Galician countryside. I kept stopping for photos and that kept me well behind everyone else.
Part of the walk included climbing the Alto de Riocabo and we moved onto dusty paths. Beautiful yellow blossoms called Scottish brooms lined our way.
Halfway through the walk, right in the middle of nowhere, it was a surprise to see this familiar vending machine signalling that it was time to take the pause that refreshes.
There were benches and a long table -- time to bring out the various "baon" ... energy bars, nuts, candies, cookies ... you name it, the Amigos had it!
Then it was time to press on -- now through more dirt paths and tree lined narrow walkways.
Cows would be a constant presence, particularly in the early days of the walk. I always marvelled at how fat and contented they seemed to be.
We crossed a pretty little stream, stepping over a stone path. The cows watched us, perhaps hoping one of us would take a dunking and they'd have something to get excited about.
San Miguel Beer! There was much joy and exultation at the thought of a cold cerveza at the end of the 10 km walk.
We stopped at Casa Do Franco, a charming albergue with food and drink for passing pilgrims. Of course most of the pilgrims would be going straight to Sarria but for the Amigos, this would be the end of the walk for the day.
My little henro looked on, enjoying the cool weather and the lush green views around him.