Quickening...June 12, 2017 in Spain ⋅ ☁️ 18 °C
There are a couple ways to describe the days following O Cebreiro.
One is as the guidebooks do. I'd now entered Galicia, a region in Spain's Northwest filled with small farms, large hills, and forests of pine and eucalyptus. Galicia's climate is influenced by the Atlantic, its culture by the Celts, its language (Gallego) by the Portuguese.
It'd be no less accurate, though, to describe this stretch as something of a circus. Since anyone who walks the final 100km to Santiago qualifies for a Compostela, the number of people on the trail swells 10x practically overnight.
The fresh enthusiasm of these new pilgrims wasn't altogether unpleasant, but it was a jarring shift from the weeks before. I often found myself feeling like a single car in a train hurtling west.
That said, I have great memories from this time -- joining a couple from San Antonio on a roller-coaster descent from O Cebreiro via bike; three evenings with new friends from Italy; a song-filled dinner with a table of Aussies and Kiwis.
I'm thankful too for those few hours I enjoyed relative solitude, cool mornings, and eucalyptus scents and shade. Thankful also for the challenges, and the feelings of strength and pride, as my legs and lungs chewed up hills that would have kicked my ass weeks before.
One especially hot and long day from Melide to A Brea capped this time, and put me within striking distance of Santiago...Read more