If you’re a Brit..and you’re on the Camino Frances, (the most well-known of several Camino de Santiago pilgrim trails)…and you’re in Galicia, northern Spain (at the end bit of the nearly 800km/500 mile Camino trail), you could be forgiven for doing a double-take and wondering if you actually left home…‘cos you’re in that thing that is a totally unfamiliar Spain…ie not a hot beachy Torremolinos Spain, but a green one. Yes..a green Spain with Oak trees, Horse Chestnuts, Poplar, Silver Birches and copious grass and planted crops scattered all about. Green patchwork fields and dry stone walls. A fertile and productive land. No, it’s not Yorkshire or Wales or even Ireland. But the vegetation, the slate (instead of the usual terracotta-tiled) roofs and even abandoned stone cottages (common in Ireland) do a seriously good impression of parts of the British Isles. The usual (but currently absent) Autumn rain would complete the picture. It’s the higher terrain, warm autumn temperatures, rows of conifers, massive slate outcrops, groves of (non-native/invasive) eucalyptus trees and horreos (raised grain stores) however, that give it away. This is not home…this is the Camino. Which sort of becomes home…your safe retreat from the hub-bub.
I set out at sunrise with my sticks and just went…down the hill from stunning O Cebriero (pic) with day-pack and John Brierley guide (https://www.findhornpress.com/categories/nature-travel/camino/a-pilgrim-s-guide-to-the-camino-de-santiago-1402) and ended the day with a pilgrims’ supper in Fonfrio, with Martin the industrial-size tyre man (umm..the tyres – not Martin) from Canada and a whole bunch of Brazilians! It’s strange and freeing to think about nothing else other than where you have to walk to that day. You can find yourself alone for long stretches of the very well way-marked paths (pics) ….and at other times, with others. And everyone is doing the same thing, separate and together, in a sort of conveyor-belt synchronised, Tai Chi, stick clicking, sort of a way. All moving the Chi towards…Santiago.