Best to combine two days in one post, since weather and other distractions limited photography.
In Portomarin, there was a mass pilgrim dinner in a bar overlooking the Miño. Here I made several new acquaintances, including a New York priest called Bob, and a whip-cracking group organiser, an asturiano whom I later titled El Cid Roncador, based on his penchants for leadership and for snoring. (A roncador is a snorer.) I resisted his demands that I book into an albergue with the group, and instead stayed in a pensión. This meant I got a good sleep, but also missed an interesting clash between my Cid and the splenetic German gentleman met at lunch. More on that later.
Walking with an experienced mason, Yarrow the Canuck, on the previous day, I had become still more attentive to the raw stone at our feet and the finished stonework of this part of the Camino.
So important were Galicia’s stonemasons, that they developed their own variant of the Galician language, fala dos arxinas. Knowledge of stone was to be passed on in its own argot: one way that pride and professionalism could be preserved in what must be the most strenuous of occupations. Galician short-cutters don’t become Galician stone-cutters.
Here plush green fields alternate with spring forest, where a world-wide pattern is repeated: yellow pea-flowers, legumes preceding the year’s growth.
The day was taken up with the problems of two Korean ladies, who had come on Camino less than prepared. I missed a number of photo-ops, including a renowned stone cross at Ligonde. Mind you, I’m not big on crosses.
I found my friends from the previous day at a village short of Palas de Rei, and once again we had a joint dinner. Here I was able to order a cocido gallego. Every region boasts its own version of boiled dinner, and the most minor variation is grounds for discussion. In truth, by the time the ingredients have lain in the crush of a huge pot throughout the day, the broth is more interesting than the solids. I do prefer a carefully home-made cocido, and the French custom of serving sharp, cold sauce such as a ravigote with boiled meats makes the whole exercise more interesting.
Nonetheless, a fine dinner. El Cid Roncador was sad that I had once again escaped his authority and his snoring by booking an individual room. Here I was told of the previous night’s experience at the municipal albergue in Portomarin. The forceful German gentleman had decided that the windows should be flung open on what was a glacial night above the river. El Cid Roncador invited him to take even fresher air…en la puta calle! “On the street” is a polite translation. The windows were closed. You don’t mess with Mio Cid.
As I passed through the historic town of Palas de Rei, named for a Visigothic ruler who hung out there, I missed everything due to weather. Yet the day would have its compensations, such as this plump little Romanesque chapel.
A haunted looking forest was still in winter mode.
These are primulas, right? They don’t do it wild in Oz.
Saint Mary’s Church in Leboreiro is so plain, yet it draws so many eyes, mine included.
The story about the cute Madonna sculpture over the portal goes like this. The statue of the Virgin inside the church would not stay in place but continually popped up outside. The only way they could solve the problem was to sculpt another Madonna on the outside. It worked. To this day, however, it’s not known if the statue on the inside stays there because it is happy with the duplication, or because it resents the competition.
Now, to round off the day, a pilgrim bridge.
The weather would stay foul, but in the town ahead there are eight-legged compensations. That’s right, eight!