Day 35 – Trabadelo to Fonfria

Today would be the most challenging walk so far! Not just the distance but also the difficulty level! We are going to climb 1200mtr and this would be through pretty strenuous paths and to top it all, it’s drizzling and cold.

We leave sleepy Trabadelo in the rain. It’s cold and we wouldn’t mind a cup of coffee! The petrol bunk is closed, as well as everything else in the village.

Just before Ambasmestas, approximately 4k down the road from Trabadelo, we see an open cafe. We enter a warm room with a few pilgrims inside. The cafe owner, is making churros on the stove. He’s been to North India a few times and is really happy to see us. His friend, a Dutch lady, who has her eye on a property in Trabadelo to turn into an albergue, is helping him this morning. She walked the Camino Frances a few months ago and felt the need to come back and start an albergue herself! She’s a certified yoga teacher and has spent a few months in Kerala learning yoga and ayurvedic remedies. She hopes to provide Indian food and meditation at her place when she opens. We also meet the owners dog, a handsome boxer, who is a therapy dog. The Dutch lady tells us about the cafe owner’s recent bout of cancer and how he got the dog for company and comfort! The doggie is very friendly and sits with us for a bit. John sneaks him a small piece of churro much to his delight. We eat the hot churros and drink some delicious coffee, wish them both well and head out into the cold.

Making churros

As we head into the mountains we see bridges for the highways. The height and length are really impressive!

Las Herrarias, about 10km from Trabadelo has horses you could hire to take you up the 8km trails up the mountains. The ride is 40 Euros. Tempting it was! But we decided to use our feet.

The trails up are narrow, mildly rocky and slushy. It’s a mixture of mud and poop.

Three cheers for our Columbias

Every morn as the path beckons

The Columbias get laced tight.

Asphalt today, one reckons

Impact on the feet will be light!

Neat bow, feet ready in seconds.

We set out and asphalt it is

Until we hit the mountain path

Jagged stones lie amiss

Ankles good support they hath!

Without the Cs, hit or miss?

Poor Cs get covered in dung

As we climb to O Cebrero high

Shared the path with goats young

Cows, horses and cloudy sky.

Feet safe! A ditty must be sung!

At La Faba we meet Carlos Jesus Clarke, half Spanish, half British, who is from West London. He’s taken a break from working and decided to walk the Camino for the adventure of it. As we continued our climb, we shared our experiences of the journey and he told us about finding unexpected spiritual connections and relating it to his Catholic upbringing.

Very smart dogs herding cattle
Although the pallozas started to appear over 1,000 years ago, these rustic round stone huts with thatched roofs were actually inhabited by villagers all the way up until the 1960s.

O Cebrero is where many pilgrims flock to discover the village that experienced the Miracle of the Eucharist, or the legend of the Holy Grail of Galicia, for themselves. It is widely believed that around the year 1300, a man named Juan Santin was such a devout Christian that he never missed mass for anything. One day, a fierce storm ravaged the village, and the priest assumed that no one would turn up. When Juan entered, the priest was surprised and made fun of him by saying that it was not worth braving the storm just for a little bread and wine. The legend continues that to punish the priest for his words and lack of faith, God turned the bread and wine into real flesh and blood.

In 1486, the Catholic Kings returned through the village after their visit to Santiago de Compostela, and after hearing the story, they gave the church two crystal flasks in which to keep the relics.

Baptismal font
150km to go

Just before reaching OCebrero, we entered the Galician region of Spain. The countryside turns stunning and strangely mythical looking. The cobblestoned village was filled with pilgrims and too few restaurants, so we continued our walk and about 5km later we stopped for lunch in a tiny village & treated ourselves to the famous Galician soup – caldo gallego (a stew made from cabbage, potatoes, white beans, sausage and chorizo). We had the vegetarian version and it was wholesome, filling and warm.

As we leave the bar, it starts raining. Geared to walk in the rain, we hit the path again. Cold and wet, we reach Fonfria after many climbs and descents. Casa Galego is warm inside, has a washer and dryer and a well stocked bar and restaurant. There’s no need to step out and we’re thankful for that!

I must mention here that all the albergues, pensions and apartments we’ve stayed at have always been looked after by the owners themselves with maybe family members to help. We’ve never seen hired help. The same goes for the cafés and restaurants on the way. The owners do everything from cleaning to changing linen, cooking, taking food orders, to managing the bookings etc, and with all that, being extremely warm and welcoming to the pilgrims! Very hardworking people!

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