Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of Autumn.
A steep, 2.3 kilometer climb brings us to the summit of O’Cebreiro, and out of Castille into Galicia. At breakfast, we encounter our first Tarta de Santiago, a sweet almond cake, a Galician specialty that will be present at every cafe hereafter.
Also unique to Galicia are Pallozas, whimsical round buildings with thatched roofs originally meant to shelter livestock (and sometimes humans). Now, they are often used as vacation homes. Some are elevated, others are nestled into the hill.
There are jawdropping vistas ALL DAY as we are in the mountains and can see FOREVER! Stone fences stripe the landscape making us think of the Galicians’ Celtic cousins in Ireland. Some fences have huge slabs of stone. It is difficult to imagine how they moved them there.
Early in the afternoon, we have a rather curious experience. As we pass through one of many cattle farms, a farm wife runs out to us with a plate of crepes. She sprinkles sugar on one and hands it to us, then another, finally a third empties the plate. Then she puts out her hand, “Donativo?” We hand her a couple of eruo coins, one of which drops in a fresh cowpile. No worries. She picks it up (with the same hand that held the crepes), wipes it on her pants and puts it in her pocket. All good. (insert Edvard Munch Scream emoticon here)
Later, we see a woman working in her lush, verdant garden. And just past this, the most gigantic chestnut tree I have ever seen.
We land in Triacastela for the evening at one of my least favorite albergues of the trip. It is only approximately clean and the bath fixtures are all in one room. Oh yeah, and they are butterscotch colored. I am glad the day has been cold and I do not really need a shower.
Dinner, on the other hand is FABULOUS!! I feel sure it was all good, but frankly all I can remember is the dessert: Queso Y Membrillo. Also a specialty of the area. We will have it again, but it will never be quite as good as this. Pungent, whipped sheep cheese with tangy quince preserve. Brilliant!! Quite possibly the best thing I ate the whole trip.
We have not been at dinner long when we are joined by Jorge and Kelly, Stephanie and Sarah, Otto and Jose, Lynn, Susan, and the whole gang who are staying at the adjacent albergue. There is hugging and laughter and an impromptu group photo.
Back in the albergue, fellow pilgrims have been boiling chestnuts collected along the way. They offer us some. Prepared in this way, they taste like potoatoes! Jan’s favorite. 🙂 We stash yogurt and fruit in the fridge for next day and turn in early.
One week til Santiago…
*Thanks, Mike,for the elevated Palloza.