Today we spent the day at the little village of O’Cebriero…someplace that seems like the end of the Earth. We say this because it’s isolated in the Galacian hills way up on a mountain top with nothing for kilometers around. The weather is like that of Ireland constantly changing from rain to sun to mist to hail. In an hour you can experience it all. The air is cold and wet and when out in it all one wants to do is to be next to a fire drinking something hot. A great contrast to our summer on the Maseta.
I awoke at my usual hour of 6:30 but as there was no need to get up, we stayed in bed until 8:00. Late for us on our recent schedule.
We were the last in the dining room for breakfast. A couple of pilgrims were still eating, a pair we had seen yesterday on our hike to O’Cebriero. We’d thought they might be father and son, but as we later learned from talking with them they were friends who had met on the Camino. The older man was from Dublin the younger from Gloucester, England. They had become fast friends on the Walk, telling us how they had wonderful conversations and jokingly said they were solving the age old English-Irish problem. Yet another Camino story of souls connecting on the Way.
One of the attractions of this town is its laundry service. It’d been awhile since we had our clothes washed for us and were glad to take advantage of the opportunity. After breakfast and dropping the laundry off, we headed to the cafe and worked on making reservations for the next eight nights on the Camino including our stay in Santiago.
The internet connection in this hostel was intermittent. We were lucky and had a window that lasted as long as we needed to find and book rooms in all of the towns in which we’d be staying. It took almost three hours of patience and perseverance using different internet sites to find pensions and hostels with reasonable rates and availability. And when we finished our task successfully Lil said she liked the part of her personality which allowed her to persevere until all was completed.
Unlike the beginning of our trip where we trusted that we would be able to find a place to stay at the end of our day, the Camino is now getting busier by the day with new pilgrims making their way west to Santiago.
We have been meeting folks now who left St. Jean de Port on May 1. They would have started walking about 11 days after we began to meet us now. Furthermore, in two days we will reach the last 100K mark to Santiago, and this is when the Camino becomes its busiest. The reason being that the Catholic Church has decreed in order to receive a certificate of completion for walking the Camino that one needed to prove that one has walked the last 100K. At this point bus loads of new pilgrims are dropped off to do their 100K walk to Santiago co-mingling with those pilgrims who have already walked 800+K. Finding accommodations thus becomes even more challenging, hence our making reservations ahead of time.
I’ve heard for the short walkers the journey is more of a party event, fun and celebratory. For the long walker it’s also a celebratory event yet may be more a more contemplative one of absorbing the lessons of the Way. As we near the end of our journey I feel a deep sense of gratitude for our having had the grace to make it through the challenges and hardships we faced this far.
Our laundry done and reservations made we headed back to our room for a well deserved nap (at least for me). After resting I read us passages from a new translation of the Tao de Ching, a famous Taoist treatise on how to live a harmonious life. We both resonated with its wisdom and marveled how its title, which translates to the Book of the Way, and its contents are so apropos for one walking the Camino.
It’d been raining and cold all morning and we felt compassion for the pilgrims up at 6:00 and on their way by 6:30 in such inclement weather. Though tomorrow we may be such ourselves. By the time we were done resting it had cleared up and was now sunny intermittently. We ventured out walking around the whole village visiting the church, a 9th century structure. The town seemed stuck in time and reminded me of old New England villages that never change and where strangers are unwelcome. Though there is a constant influx of strangers here every day.
At the church was a bust of a priest who had done more for the modern Camino being firmly established and for the signage that is so clearly posted that the current day pilgrim can always find his Way. As with thousands of other pilgrims before us Lil and I paid our respects with deep gratitude to this man for his service to the Camino.
Dinner was earlier tonight. We both had a mixed salad with real green lettuce, not iceburg, onions, and tomatoes and perfectly dressed. We again had the Galcian soup and for dessert chestnut pie. Fabulous and not too filling. What was fulfilling was our deep conversation about limiting beliefs. We looked particularly at our ideas regarding relationships and how we might have hidden beliefs that were blocking success in this important arena in our life. We both decided we had similar issues though at different ends of the same continuum: me doubting I’d meet someone who I could be met by and Lil believing she didn’t deserve a great relationship. We decided both beliefs were limiting perspectives and are using our walking meditation time to reflect more on this before we complete the trip.
Now I’m at the bar finishing the blog as they start to close up and so I will bid you all good night and say:
Hasta Manana Amigos!
Ancient Celtic Village. Thatched roof O’cebreiro.
Thatched hut in O’cebreiro. The end of the world- O’Cebriero. View west from O’Cebriero.
Village inn. Father of Modern Day Pilgrims and two modern day pilgrims.