Week 180 September 9, 2017

Dear Family and Friends, thank you for reaching out to us here and via email or other ways to contact us, Loren and I always appreciate hearing from you! 

An extra overnight in Tui was just what we had needed, given the time change from Portugal to Spain which cost us a lost hour. We spent a most enjoyable evening with Arturo, our AirBnB host, who took us to a friend’s finca (farm) to see veinte vaca y un toro – 20 cows and a bull, as well as a prized stallion and 3 young mares.

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Arturo then drove us to his parents’ home. Here we toured their finca including goats and fruit trees, had a light meal with his father Tomas’ delicious homemade wine, and, finished the evening with a treat of an ancient Galician custom of after dinner liqueurs. The atmosphere changed from one of light chatter to a serious urgency of closing shutters and lowering of lights. Loren read the instructed incantation in Spanish, while Arthur put flame to a pot of alcohol, at the same time his mother Dori and sister Noami feverishly chopped and added fresh fruits to it. It was very tasty! Spain is known as the California of Europe and the region Galicia is nicknamed Galifornia. We felt so at home!
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Then we embarked on a milestone adventure. Back in 2014 when Loren and I were in Missoula, Montana we saw the movie, Walking the Camino: Six Ways to Santiago, at a theater. I wrote then on this blog, “Here is another possible goal for down our journey road!” Who knew that my wistful comment would become reality? Recent yoga classes, hikes in New York and in Portugal were good physical prep. We hired a travel company to transport our backpacks and arrange accommodation each night. We are among the nearly 300,000 who arrived in Santiago, and of 14% who traveled the Portuguese Way.
The best way to describe our experience is to share my poem with a few photos:
Divine Distractions
A plethora of scallop shell markers, yellow wooden arrows nailed to trees, pointers of yellow and blue paint on pavement and poles, leading to Saint James’ remains.
Chapels, churches, church bells, cathedrals, cathedral bells, a convent, a monastery. A Sunday mass amplified over the countryside. The lure to finish for noon’s Pilgrim Mass.
Statues, tributes, memorials, monuments. Via Romana XIX ancient route indicators. Any number of signposts, street signs, roadside progress maps. A glass or more of wine.
Scooters, cars, motorcycles, trucks, tractors, trailers, trains. Houses, farms, businesses, buildings. Stone structures of the ages. A 1906 Reserva Especial cerveza.
Forest paths, country lanes, city streets – dirt, gravel, cobblestone, tarmac. Stray dogs, cats. Barking dogs inside gated fences. Hungry cats meowing. A taste of Albariño wine.
Multitudes of grape or kiwi vines propped on historic granite pillars, providing arbors for shade. Blue grapes, red grapes, green grapes, white grapes, hang in bunches on the vines.
Laden fruit trees – apple, peach, pear prevalent; fig, and quince, too. Low rock walls covered with moss. Beautiful flowers. Delightful songbirds. A bottle of wine.
Abundant vegetable gardens of squash, kale, beans, melons, peppers, tomatoes, protected by creative, entertaining scarecrows. Vegetation of all sorts. Another bottle of wine.
Varied landscapes. Scents of mint, eucalyptus. Flowing waters in brooks, creeks, rivers, ponds, the Atlantic ocean. Silent counting, recounting, to 100 on steep uphill climbs.
Coops full of clucking chickens. Crowing of roosters, even the sighting of some. Elevated concrete or wooden corn cribs, both new and ancient. An Estrella Galicia Cerveza Especial.
The occasional horse in a grassy field. Herds of sheep. Bleating of goats. A single donkey. A gaggle of geese. Unexpected hunters’ gunfire. Fireworks. A 1906 Red Vintage cerveza.
Solo bicyclists, in pairs, even groups. Once 16: first 8, then 1, then 5 including one boy, then 2 including one lone woman – almost all clad in the same outfit. Yet another bottle of wine.
Locals, some with dogs on or off leash. Sounds of others’ singing, chanting, cheering, even raucous revelry. A gift of ear plugs. Comfort in the cantor’s sweet voice and song leading.
Numerous other walkers, pilgrims. Words spoken in accents from dialects of Spanish, Portuguese, German, Irish, Italian, American English, Dutch, Slovene, likely some others.
Camaraderie at rest stops on benches, at picnic tables, in cafes, bars, hotel restaurants. More connection while obtaining required stamps, or soaking of feet in caldas termas.
Making new friends, sharing advice, exchanging ideas, meaningful conversations, and, so many Buen Camino’s of encouragement given and received from friendly well-wishers.
All divinely distracting our minds from aches, pains and tender feet, from hiking Tui to Porrino, Arcade to Pontevedra, Caldas de Reis to Padron, Rua de Francos to Santiago.
Culminating in the Certificates commemorating the over 100 memorable kilometers walked on the Portuguese Way of the Camino de Santiago de Compostela, with my best friend.
Claire Adalyn Wright
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P.S. Our Pilgrim Mass at Catedral de Santiago included the swinging of the Botafumeiro. As it is not always used, we were privileged to witness the several priests offering it!
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P.P.S. Loren and I celebrated 26 years of marriage on September 1, and, we celebrated Loren’s birthday on the 5th with fun help from special friends on the Camino.
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