Everyone was feeling a bit slow in the morning after last night’s free flowing wine and excellent food. I woke with the outside of the bivi bag saturated with condensation from the cold overnight air. It had been a good fitful sleep all the same. I packed up again – the routine of packing up was well versed after so many days walking. With some strong coffee from the owner of the albergue, we all sat round a table in the bright morning sun. No one was keen to start walking. There were questions from the albergue owner about a tent that had a appeared during the night. No one knew who it was or at least no one admitted to arriving and pitching their tent during the night. The deal was that if you took advantage of the free camping you had to eat at the albergue. However the matter was soon forgotten.
Setting off it was only a kilometre to the village of Olveiroa. At the entrance to the village there were bells ringing and a sombre crowd. There was a funeral. I followed the group past many ‘horreos‘ to a small church. People sat around chatting as the sun rose in the sky. The church was simple and surrounded by ornately designed ‘stacked’ graves. I paused to give respect as the silent crowd mumbled to each other about their loss.
There was a small cafe in the village where I bumped into Rory and Matt. More coffee and as Rory tucked into a huge pilchard, I ordered one too. They were coated in olive oil and barbecued over a hot charcoal fire and were delicious! A couple of girls from South Korea were there and laughing and smiling they posed for a photograph.
The Way continued steadily upwards from the village. Now, suddenly, I could smell the sea. The sky was getting larger and the air had a salty freshness that is always present as one approaches the coast anywhere in the World. On the hill tops there were many wind turbines humming in the breeze. Some say they are noisy but to me it was a silent hum somehow in tune with nature. Still, were they good or bad?
Through calm woods there were occasional fields with horses standing head to tail as they swished the flies from each other’s face. It was calm. The Way was composed of large rough stones but it was walkable and very peaceful. The wind whispered through pine trees as the path continued to rise. At the summit was a small village called Hospital. There were many villages called Hospital on the Way as they had been refuges or hospitals for pilgrims for hundreds of years. I stopped at a cafe there that had a view to a strange looking building on the hill side. It was an iron foundry and was completely out of place. Industrial steam emanated from its roof and blank walls sat amongst the vegetation as a mark to the human invasion of nature. It was not pretty.
I sat with Rory and Matt and had some lunch. Soon after we continued and entered a heathland of low plants and pines. It was almost surreal. The fresh wind from the East played in the trees as the heat of the day increased. On some trees were articles of clothing placed there by previous pilgrims. Rory found a striped t-shirt that he thought was quite fashionable and untied it from the tree before putting it on! Soon was the Ermita de las Nieves. An old pilgrim rest stop, there was an alter outside the building where pilgrims had left pictures and other items in memory of a loss or a loved one. There was a large cross sitting in the middle of a large field. The atmosphere was unique – somewhere between isolation and calm. Many rocky kilometres followed across the barren hills before the descent to the town of Ceé. Dropping down I passed the Cross of the Armada. Singularly it was isolated on the hill top above the town and commemorated Spain’s naval history.
Ceé was a quiet but a fairly large town nestled in a horseshoe shaped bay. The late afternoon light by now was bringing out the contrasts and the colours of the buildings. There were bright pink flowers on large bushes as the small fishing boats bobbed up and down in the bay. Rory and Matt went off to find an albergue but I was fascinated and wanted to head to another albergue that lay past the town on top of a hill.
I found it shortly after a steep climb from the town. It was clean and warm and welcoming in the Albergue of San Roque. There was a volunteer at the albergue and only one other pilgrim. I was made welcome and asked to stay for a meal. I needed to return to Ceé to purchase another memory card for the camera and gratefully accepted the offer later in the evening when I returned. The light was fantastic and in Ceé the old church was wonderful. The sun was warm and strong and I found the memory card to allow me to take more photographs tomorrow when I would arrive in Finisterre!
Returning to the albergue in San Roque, I had some dinner with the albergue volunteer and the only other guest – an American from New York. Soon they retired and I sat in the early dark outside listening to the sounds of night setting in. There was distant music from a festival below in Ceé. I was too tired to venture out again. Instead the sweet scent of the large flowers from the garden filled me with peace and ushered me to an early bed. Tomorrow would be the final day of walking after almost ten weeks.