Why am I doing this walk?
Today, that question reasserted itself very strongly.
I still don't know, but what I do know is that the call was very strong, and where I am right now had a great deal to do with it.
Firstly, my day –
Can't say I liked O Cebreiro. It had a very strange energy. I didn't take any pics because I couldn't bring myself to. It looked like a movie set. Something you'd find on a Universal Studios tour. It was a stone village so perfectly preserved, with so many tourist shops and so many tourists, that it reeked of artificiality.
The storekeepers and merchants had the battle weary dissonance you always find in tourist traps. I was pleased to get out of there, so I left at 6:30am, knowing I had 32 kms to do today, to get to Samos.
It was a beautiful sunrise. Yeah I know, I'm not supposed to think sunrises are beautiful, but this one was a cracker.
(I took a photo with my iPhone and a High Dynamic Range app. It's the first time I've not used my Fuji. I find those Instagram / HDR Pro apps too gimmicky for my taste, but it gave a spectacular image, even though I think it looks fake!)
The first part of the day was hard – steep climbs and equally steep descents. Murder on the knees, and my knee reminded me today that it hadn't gone away. It misses the Meseta.
I had breakfast after about 2 hrs walking – coffee (only one, because I'd grabbed one in OC before I left) – and beautiful ham and cheese on toast. The bill came to €2.75. In Australia, the same breakfast would cost about $4 for the coffee and $6-$8 for the toast and ham and cheese. That's about €8-9.
I'd done about 21 kms by lunch, so I popped into a restaurant in Triacastela and had a Pilgrims Menu (€10) of beautiful home made Galician soup, and barbecued steak, and home made rice pudding. I needed the sustenance after the walk – and I still had a ways to go to Samos.
The last 7 kms into Samos has to go down as perhaps the most glorious walk I've ever done. A track that led through ancient stone villages (the real deal!) and following a stream which had little waterfalls and rapids at regular stages.
The track rose and fell, so at times I was way above the stream looking down at it through the trees, and at other times I was walking right beside it.
Many of the trees were ancient and covered in moss, and some were in flower and were blowing tiny white blossoms onto the path in front of me. Always was the sound of tinkling water, along with cuckoo birds, and cow bells.
I stopped regularly to take photos, and just take in the beauty. I was very slow – 9 kms in 3 hrs – and I didn't want the track to end.
But then I turned a corner and there below me was the Samos Monastery. Truly magnificent.
Two years ago, my wife and I stopped in Samos for a coffee and I wandered around the Monastery. I remember seeing pilgrims entering the Monastery's albergue, and I poked my head in. I saw all these bunks, and pilgrims staking out their territory with their backpacks and sleeping bags.
Later, I spoke to a fellow who was doing the Camino. I remember asking him a lot of questions – how many kms he did each day, how long he'd been walking for, etc.
Samos isn't on the most direct route to Santiago. It's a 7km detour. But I had to come back.
I've now staked out a bunk with my backpack and sleeping bag. I'm sleeping in that same dormitory in the Monastery I checked out two years ago. At 7:30, I go to Vespers in the Chapel. It includes Gregorian Chants.
It will be an experience.
And it might give me some clue as to why I'm doing this walk.