A Pilgrim Tale: day thirty-one


Hórreos. We have been seeing them all over since passing into Galicia (though not often so well guarded). 🙂 Always raised. Constructed of various combinations of wood, brick, and stone. Usually ornamented with crosses, bells, etc… Early on, we came up with some pretty outlandish theories regarding their use, because there was one in pretty much every yard, big or small, city or country. (Let’s just say, we might have been overly influenced by having slept too near the dead.)


Turns out they are graneries, or as we would say in Appalachia, corn cribs. Raised and roofed to keep out rats and rain, but ventilated to keep the crop from rotting. You probably can’t see it, but there are already stacks of corn in the one at top left.


Today is a visual and olfactory feast with lemon trees, forests of eucalyptus, voluptuous grapes dripping from overhead arbors, dahlias and wildflowers. We smell the lemon trees and the eucalyptus before we see them. And I drink deeply of it all, trying desperately to hold onto these moments, this being right here right now, so that it will be part of me forever.

For days now, Mike has been searching in every little market we pass for smoked salmon. Finally, in Arzua, he finds it. We gather crunchy whole grain bimbos (toasts), creamed cheese, capers, tomatoes, apples, and chocolate, of course, then walk on, keeping an eye out for the perfect spot to enjoy our picnic.


We pass tables sitting outside a closed restaurant in the sun and they beckon to us. Just as we get all our goodies spread out, a car drives by. Slowly. Studying us. The owner. Snap! Except, she doesn’t want us to move. She is not ready to open. She has come in early to cook and kindly invites us to stay and enjoy our meal. Galician hospitality!


Tonight we sleep at Albergue Bondi in Salceda, which is mediocre at best. But the hospitalero is very sweet. Here we have one of our more curious experiences.

After dinner at a nearby cafe, Jan and I are sitting in the kitchen/common area visiting with a grandmother and granddaughter who are walking the camino for the granddaughter’s 21stbirthday. A haggard and grizzly man marches in. He begins addressing us in an arrogant and flippant manner asking for money.–Here it should be noted that he came while he knew the hospitalero would be out and that we had seen him earlier at the cafe eating and drinking heartily.–No one gives him anything. He grumbles something obviously unkind and skulks out.

A few minutes later, he comes back and dramatically drops a small bag of dog food mixed with waste in the middle of the floor.–His request for food had been for his dog as well.–The grandmother asks him why he did this. “Why not?” he spews, then skulks out again leaving us scratching our heads. And cleaning up his mess. We have encountered beggars several times. Most are humble and kind. Not this one.


We are now less than 30k from Santiago. Tomorrow we will walk as far as Monte del Goza, Mount Joy, a traditional place of preparation for entering the holy city…

Imagine what the equivalents of a gracious arrival are for you. On the evening of your arrival, read from a sacred text that was written on the holy ground you stand upon. Write down something you want your grandchildren to remember you by. Leave behind an offering. Let your joy show. Savor the moment. Linger a while. Relish the idea that for now you are no longer a stranger in this world. Wonder about the saving grace that came your way. Remember that sacred places are those that eternity shines through like sunlight through a rose window.

~Phil Cousineau, The Art of Pilgrimage (emphasis mine)

*Thank you to Mike for the sunrise and the Salceda sign, and to David for the picnic.