Day 27 – Trabadelo to O´Cebreiro — 20 km

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Woke up early so decided to get going and surprisingly was in good shape after all the “fun” last night.  It was dark and once I got to the end of the village there was a split in the road and no arrow.  My tiny torch did not provide enough light to find an arrow – no ways was I going to waist any energy on taking the wrong road with a 12 km climb today so sat down waiting for a pilgrim.  While I was patiently waiting I caught up on some FB messages and what’s app messages.  Both the girls had sent me a message wishing me good luck for the climb today.  Tanika’s message “mom you can do this, I know you can do this”!!  I am really missing the girls a lot these days, it has been 31 days since I left South Africa.  On FB I noticed a dear friends status update “six years dry today”, I remember when he embarked on his journey of no more alcohol.  Tanika and Gareth (his son) were in grade  1 together.

It was cold and my feet started to burn, I know I sound like a stuck record but you don’t understand the pain – my feet hurt so bad!! My feet were on fire and the rest of my body was freezing cold.  The balance again – to experience hot you need to experience cold – what is all of this telling me.  Thoughts flashing between my friends journey of being dry for six years and waiting for a pilgrim to come trotting by in real camino style (click of the walking sticks on the tar road) I decided to dedicate every step of the way today to Kevin.  I knew the climb was going to be tough and I knew I was going to take strain and I knew if my feet are already burning, I am going to need motivation and somehow the thought of dedicating every step of todays walking to Kevin was my motivation.  (Hey – Kevin, if you have been on the right path for 6 years then I can climb this darn mountain today!!)

Start of the climb up to O’Cebreiro

Finally a young couple arrived and still no arrow could be found.  They were from Denmark and luckily could speak English.  The left road felt right to all so the three of us continued together for a while and +- 10 minutes later – there in the distance was a yellow arrow, taking us to the other side of the highway and once again along the Pereje river.  Happiness and relief struck and as the sun started creating the much needed light the three of us “knocked” sticks cheering to the right path chosen.  La Portela de Valcarce was the first village we walked through and nothing was open for breakfast.  The next village was 4 km away so on we walked…….  The climb started but was not at all strenuous —- yet!!  My feet were calling for a rest but knowing that coffee was only an hour away I pushed on to Vega de Valcarce.

Statue dedicated to the pilgrims in La Portela

Santiago – 190 km’s to go – however one learns not to trust any of the signage indicating kilometers still to go or kilometers walked – in fact they just confuse you.  You will see a sign 430 km till Santiago, 3 km later you will a sign 490 km till Santiago – this was common on the Camino.  The signage above if you add the 19o still to go and the 559 already walked, you get a total of 746 km’s but the distance from Roncesvalles to Santiago is 790 km’s!!

The Denmark couple and myself stopped in Vega de Valcarce for breakfast, for the life of me I can’t remember their names.  I had seen the couple for the first time last night in the Albergue and they started their Camino 20 days ago. I am on day 27 and we are in the same village.  Some people push up to 40 km’s a day others like me +- 20 km’s!!  However I will add it is only +- every third or forth day that they push ahead of the recommended 25 km’s per day schedule (as mentioned in an earlier blog there are no rules – it is entirely up to you how far you want to walk).  John Brierley has written a few books on the Camino and most English speaking countries follow his guide.  John has mapped the Camino out over 33 days.  The way things look right now I will more than likely take 35 days to finish the Camino.   Jacob Milan and his mom joined us for breakfast.  Jacob could speak fluent English however his mom not a word.  They have been walking the Camino for three years now- doing it in stages of one week at a time.  Some people take 10 years to complete the Camino. Jacob and his mom stopped in Leon last year and commenced with their Camino in Leon this year.  They only have 10 days so are hoping to get to Santiago in that time frame and finish the Camino this year!!  The bar we were in was cosy and offered the yummiest chocolate croissants.  Yip that is all you get for breakfast in Spain – a variety of yummy pastries or toast and jam.

The stop in Vega de Valcarce was way too long (+- 2 hours) but the chatting and chocolate croissants were to blame for this lengthy stop and I suppose you could blame the cold weather as well.  It had warmed up and it was time to get cracking as the climb peaked from here on up until O’Cebreiro – 12 km’s of nothing but climbing!!

How much further

Strategizing how I can get to the top without moving my feet

The higher I climbed the tougher each step got.  The only way out of this was to get to the top.  The girls kept checking in with me to hear how I was doing, it must be a Saturday or Sunday back in South Africa – I don’t know as I have lost complete track of what day of the week it is!  I don’t even look at my watch anymore, maybe I should toss it….   It started to feel like every step forward I was taking two steps backwards.  Going nowhere very slowly!  The views were stunningly beautiful the higher I got and in Laguna I took another long rest but by this time all I wanted was to get finished for the day and put my feet up for good!  +- 3 km to go but could not push as the climb was at its steepest and my body needed a rest.

O’Crebreiro another great village

O’Cebreiro

O’Cebreiro is amazeballs!!!  It is a tiny village at the top of a mountain with music playing in the streets and souvenirs everywhere.  The most friendly Spaniards live here.  The village is filled with bars and siesta is not alive in this little village as everything is open and the locals are only too happy to welcome the pilgrims into their bars for lunch, snacks and dinner not forgetting the ice cold beer.    I LOVE THIS PLACE!!  The municipal Albergue is at the other end of the village and the queue was out the door, round the back, up the path, over the hill – geeez where did all these people come from suddenly.  Rumor has it that bus loads get dropped off in O’Cebreiro as this is another starting point for a lot of people.  Luckily I got a bed, showered, did my washing and went off to explore the 360 degree views. Plus minus 60 people did not get a bed and all the other accommodation in the village was also full. These pilgrims had to sleep outside for the night and it gets cold up here in the evenings.  Normally the cathedrals would open there doors to the pilgrims who don’t have a bed but apparently this cathedral has had way too many “nasty” incidents therefore they no longer allow pilgrims to sleep inside.  O’Cebreiro is a vibey village and I could easily see people getting out of hand more often than not here.

O;Cebreiro

The cathedral was tiny in comparison to other cathedrals I had seen but this one had a special feeling about it.  I lit a candle for Kevin and placed it carefully amongst many others and sat down for a while to enjoy the energy and silence.  I was hungry after the hectic walk so decided to have a pilgrims lunch rather than wait till dinner time.  Who do I find eating in the bar but the shy lawyer about to become judge Antonio.  He politely offers for me to join him and encourages me to try some Spanish dishes rather then the usual boring pilgrim meal.  After the relaxing late lunch and a few beers later I decided to go lie under a tree and soak up the views some more.   I lay for hours admiring the beauty and thinking of where I am in body, mind and spirit.  I realized that the Camino for me thus far has been an incredible journey in getting to know who I am (a journey to yourself) – I had finally come to understand  what it means to be free – the freedom to be myself!! I have come to appreciate and enjoy the beauty and the peace around me.  I am in a good space and feeling so much lighter within and about the way forward in my life.

Melissa, Zac, Shaan and Claire arrived and “woke” me from my deep thoughts.  It was time for dinner and even though I was not hungry I joined them for a drink before I retired to an early nights sleep.  What an awesome day and evening and by the time I got to bed I had forgotten how tough it was climbing up to O’Cebreiro!!

The Camino is filled with “love”

Hello O’Cebreiro

Cathedral – O’Cebreiro

Cathedral in O’Cebreiro and the bibles below!

Bibles written in various languages in the Cathedral in O’Cebreiro

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Showing 2 comments
  • kimsj24

    My keyboard is full of salty water now…Mich you are soooo amazing. And thank you for your thoughts.

  • kay

    Simply AWESOME!!!

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