Vilar de Barrio

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  • Day37

    Laza - Villar de Barrio 20 km

    June 5 in Spain ⋅ ☀️ 29 °C

    I woke early but just lay in bed for a while listening to Kathleen's gentle snoring, weirdly I never found her snoring annoying, in fact I always thought that it was kind of relaxing and I was genuinely happy that she was getting a deep sleep. I guess a key issue in dealing with snoring is how you feel about the person, and I felt nothing but good things towards Kathleen, she's a treasure.

    I was only walking 20km today so I was in no hurry, and the albergue in Villar de Barrio didn't open until 1300. Today's walk was going to be a challenge, as there was a mountain with a very steep ascent in between Laza and Villar, and I still had some anxieties about ascents, which in this case totaled 690m. However, today I was to experience another camino miracle.

    I had walked about 3km when I saw another peregrino in the distance, and I happened to notice something falling off their mochila. I quickened my pace and got to the spot and there on the ground was a woolly hat, so I quickened my pace again until I was in shouting distance of its owner. He stopped and waited until I got to him and was overjoyed to have his hat returned, as he was quite bald. So, we walked together and got to know each other a bit. His name was Ougo he was a retired surgeon from Bologna, he was 73. I noticed a dressing on his knee and asked if he was ok, he said yes but he was very upset as his knee was no longer stable enough to allow him to continue mountaineering, his great passion. He had been mountaineering and walking the alps since he was a boy, but all he could do now was walk caminos. He was coming back in July to walk the Norte with his wife. I felt like a total wimp by comparison, moaning about every hill.

    After an hour we arrived at the base of the mountain and began our ascent of its steep slope. After about 30 minutes, Ougo, whose English was ok (better than my Italian) stopped me and said, "I have something I would like to say. In my opinion your mochila is too low." So, I had to loosen all the straps whilst he readjusted them and then told me to tighten the straps and walk. I could not believe the difference, it was as if he had taken my mochila off me, and the nagging pain in my hip completely disappeared. (He thought my mochila was actually too large for me) He wasn't finished, he told me my walking pole was too high and he adjusted that, and again I felt a difference right away. Finally he said "If I can say one more thing, your pace is all wrong. if you are going to walk up a mountain, you must walk, not too fast, not too slow but you must walk at the same pace from start to finish. If you keep varying your pace you will exhaust yourself." So he got me to copy his pace and style of walking and with all the other adjustments he made, I was at the top of the mountain in no time at all, and feeling more energised than tired.

    Why is that a camino miracle? I didn't even realise I needed help, but I did need it, and through a strange set of circumstances I met Ougo, who of all the people I could have met that day, had the knowledge and experience to see what I could not and who knew exactly what to do to fix the problem. If I had not left late, if Ougo's hat hasn't fallen off his mochila...

    The help I got from Ougo that day transformed my camino and I will always be thankful for him and I will never forget him. When we got to Alberguería at the top of the mountain we went to the famous café where pilgrims are invited to write their name on a shell, (there are over 50,000 in the café and albergue), and so we signed a shell together and I bought him a coffee, and we sat for a while listening to Dire Straits (the café owner plays them all day, he's a superfan).

    The steep decline down the other side of the mountain was actually more difficult than the ascent, but we stopped for a moment near the top and looked out over the vista before us and Ougo said "Our Lord's creation is very beautiful." I couldn't argue with that. As we got to the bottom, Ougo and I said our goodbyes, as he was going to have a longer rest before going on to the town beyond Vilar, and I never saw him again.
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  • Day36

    A Gudiña - Laza 35 km

    June 4 in Spain ⋅ ☀️ 27 °C

    Having made the decision to go to Laza by taxi, Meg, Kathleen, Anita and I all had a lie in. Once we were all ready to go we set off in search of a café for breakfast, which we found eventually. Breakfast was good and the café owner telephoned a taxi for us, and it arrived very soon after that. The taxi driver was chatty and really funny, and we were there within 45 minutes. The albergue was inevitably closed, and so we went to a café and had second breakfast like real Hobbits.

    The albergue was modern, clean with a good kitchen. We were allocated a room together and picked our bunks and sorted our stuff out. Anne arrived about 1500 but by 1700 Mirjam had still not arrived so I set off to look for her and much to my relief I met her coming up the road. I took her mochila and walked her back to the albergue.

    There was nothing to do but the usual peregrino stuff, I was fortunate enough to spend a long time that evening in conversation with Mirjam, and I will always treasure that time with her. I am sure that people back home will ask me about my camino experience and what it was like walking every day, and what the landscape was like, and the food etc. As I have reflected on that I have come to understand that above all it is the moments with other people, where bonds of love and friendship were established and deepened that have had the deepest impact and settle longest in the heart.

    There's not much else to say about that day so let me give you a typical day in my life as a peregrino

    1. Get up, normally between 0500 and 0530, and get dressed, (some peregrinos sleep in the next day's clothes or at least next day's underwear)
    2. Breakfast of fruit or whatever I managed to buy the day before or if I'm really lucky something in a café.
    3. Walk anything from 15-32 km over varied terrain and always in the heat if not always in direct sunlight. Temperatures ranged from about 5° to 39° and sometimes it was still 25°-30° after midnight
    4. Arrive at the albergue and get booked in, pick a bunk and get clean clothes out of my bag
    5. Shower and change into the clothes for the next day's walk
    wash my dirty clothes, almost always in a sink of cold water with a bar of soap and if possible, get them hung outside in the sun
    6. Look for a shop to buy supplies for the next day, water fruit etc.
    7. Find somewhere to eat, café/bar/restaurants normally offered hot meals between 1330 and 1500 and then again at 2000 - 2100. Depending on the kitchen facilities some folk might cook their own dinner, I did a few times.
    8. Spend some quality time with Meg, Kathleen, Anita, Anne, Julia and Mirjam
    9. Read over the route for the next day and check the map, pack my mochila
    10. Journal about the day, read, listen to music then sleep.
    11. Get up the next day and do it all again.

    Of course, there's a lot that happened in-between those lines, but that's for me to know.
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  • Day41

    Once more unto the breach...

    June 1, 2018 in Spain ⋅ ⛅ 18 °C

    As I struggled up the 560 metre steep incline I did question my sanity. And contemplate a taxi. But there was no way a car could get onto the narrow shale track - it could only be a helicopter rescue. At which point I ate some chocolate from my secret stash. I do think the Kissing Point Road hill will be a piece of cake after this.

    As always once I reach the top it feels awesome. Today’s peak was marked by a quite famous bar, where pilgrims write their details on a shell which is hung or pasted somewhere in the room. Photo under - me and my gang.
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    Lee Tolman

    Great picture! Some of us are masochistic and have made the climb more than once (in my case three times)!

    Jill Hill

    Lee, once is definitely enough!

    Robyn Smith

    Well done , Jill

    Ian Hill

    I’d prefer just the chocolate and the piece of cake without the walk up the hill


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Vilar de Barrio

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