Friday, June 26, 2015

Amigos de Santiago on Camino -- Day 3 Sarria to Morgade

Day 3 of our Camino happened on June 12, coincidentally Philippine Independence Day.  It seemed both ironic and appropriate to commemorate it in the (ex) Motherland.

To rub salt into the wound, the Amigos were all dressed up in our Visit Philippines Year t-shirts (given by my kind clients at the Tourism Promotions Board).  With the vivid colours of the Philippine flag, we all shouted "Mabuhay ang Pilipinas!"

Not content with that, how about a selfie for these indios Amigos.  To make it even more significant, we had our American Amigo raise the (selfie) stick to take the photo.  Take that, (ex) Mother Spain!

Picture taking done, we started the walk out of Sarria, passing by these murals depicting scenes from the Camino.  Sarria is a crucial leg of the Camino as it the starting point for the minimum distance you need to walk to be able to qualify for your Compostela.  It is about 112 km from Santiago.

The Atenean Amigos saw this sign for a Cafe Ateneo across the street and just had to stop for a photo.

We passed through the still quiet streets of Sarria, going through narrow uphill roads lined with stone houses, most of which catered to the pilgrim trade -- there were albergues, pensiones, bars, restaurants, souvenir shops ... but there was no time to stop, we were barely in to the first few hundred meters of today's walk.

I should have seen the continuous uphill climb out of Sarria as a foretaste of things to come.

The winding road levelled out at the top of the hill where this stone tablet marked a look out point. 

We got a wonderful view of Sarria from this vantage point.

When you do the Camino, do not miss the Convent of La Magdalena, which you see just as you leave Sarria.   It dates back from the 13th century and now houses the Order of Mercedarians.
It's a good place to stop and get a sello, just ring the monastery bell and the kind monk will open the massive doors and let you in. There's even a small store where you can buy Camino souvenirs (yes, trust me, the Amigos did some shopping).

The Camino then took us down past the town cemetery and a little bit further away from the  bottom of the hill was this lovely Romanesque bridge that spanned a small stream -- of course no one could resist such a photogenic spot.

But now... aha!  (ex) Mother Spain had something up her sleeve for the Amigos.  
After silently witnessing that earlier bit of flag waving and "mabuhay" yelling, she got back at us by serving up the hardest uphill climb I had ever faced.  
It may look innocent in the photo above but trust me, I was just too dazed  to take any photos on the climb up.  The steep path, uneven because of rocks and loose gravel was just a kilometre  long but it certainly felt like it went on forever and ever.  I had to step very carefully and make my way slowly lest I trip and fall.

My leg muscles and I were shaking with relief when we finally got to the top.  This serene wooded path greeted us, signalling no more climbs ... at least for now. 

After that horrendous trudge up the slope, we were back on even and level paths.  Low stone walls overgrown with moss and these pretty little flowers took my mind off the discomfort that the climb had subjected me to. 

As I would continue to see in the following days - the Camino provides an abundance of mixed experiences -- after a bout of tiring physical challenges,  moments of beauty and quiet grace would follow that would thoroughly cleanse and refresh both body and soul.

The Camino asks that you stop, look up and around and enjoy your lovely surroundings.
There are many unique and interesting structures that mark the Galician part of the Camino.  
This is a horreo or a storage facility for grain.  Usually they are marked with a cross on top.  
While I saw some that looked really old,  I did note that many new homes now have replicas of horreos in their front yard.

Just 4 kilometres into today's 11.5 km walk, we passed by this old Romanesque church in quiet and sleepy little Barbadelo.  This church dates back to the late 12th century and is built along austere and simple lines.

The Amigos were fortunate that the church was open when we passed by so we were able to get our sellos.  The church is dedicated to San Tiago -- you can see him, in pilgrim garb on the left side of the altar.  Again, I saw this as his sign of his comradeship with his Amigos.

Like most churches we passed, Santiago de Barbadelo is surrounded by a cemetery.  These stone crosses have borne witness to the cycle of life and death in this ancient Galician village.

After Barbadelo, we walked through more country paths,  passing through small villages and utterly deserted but charming walkways such as these broad stones that crossed a small creek.  
The thought of taking off my socks and letting my feet relax in the cold water did cross my mind.

Our goal for today was Morgade which at this point was still a good five kilometres away.  

To keep ourselves  from giving in to tiredness and fatigue -- we would break into song but somehow we could never go beyond just a few stanzas of the lyrics.

The Camino marker states that we are at the 102 km point -- Morgade was at 99.5.
We were just 2.5 kilometres away!

Aside from Day 3 being Philippine Independence Day, it was also a Friday and the Feast of the Sacred Heart.  We saw the 100 km Camino marker where someone had carefully placed a photo of the Sacred Heart of Jesus amidst some stones and pink flowers.
O sacred Heart, O love divine -- keep your Amigos close to thee!

We got a much needed second wind of strength and finally reached the end of our 11.5 kilometre walk.  Casa Morgade, a converted stone house was our end point.  They serve food, drinks and snacks to tired and hungry pilgrims.  We definitely qualified on both counts.

I was too tired to eat but not too tired to savour a cold glass of Mahou draft beer -- along with a small packet of chips, it was fortifying after that long walk.   Salud to the end of  day 3 of our Camino!

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