Anyone who knows me or my blog knows that this is the day I have been waiting for – the trail, the walk, the climb up to O Cebreiro! The first time I had heard such scare stories about it, about unfit people keeling over with heart attacks from sheer exhaustion. Which is of course just a lot of nonsense! It’s not even the steepest hill, though one of the most beautiful.
I started out late, as usual, after another good chat with Maria and the Cutest Couple, and then started following the road from Vega along the river at the bottom of the valley. The clouds seemed to go from dark grey to thick cover to cotton dotted on a blue sky, and though I could feel the chill in the air, it was warm and comfortable enough.
I made a quick pit stop at Herrerias, at the foot of the hill, for refreshments and a toilet break. Apparently the bar in the next village, La Faba, was closed and the Dutch albergue too, so it would be a long walk without facilities. At the end of the village the gradual decay of the old washing machine still marks the passing of time and also the start of the actual climb up to O Cebreiro.
First a lot of tarmac twists and turns, then the man – now footprints – pointing to the trail and the bike keeping cyclists on the road. Thank God for that.
And now I am going to get lazy and/or lost for words and just show, not tell, how my walking day went:
I met Maria again just before Laguna, where we had a drink and I narrowly escaped being bulldozed – cowdozed? – by a stroppy cow who didn’t want to go home to get milked. We walked up to O Cebreiro together and had local cheese and honey for lunch before she carried on. I was staying at the Venta Celta as usual, though it was odd to see it with social distancing and a limited menu. After the usual pilgrim chores I visited the church to say hi to to Elias – without whom very few of us would know about or walk the camino – and secured a table in one of the few restaurants that were open. The American Musicians joined me, and after our meal of caldo gallego (broth soup), trucha (trout), lomo (marinated pork loin) and more Cebreiro cheese with honey, we finished the cold, cold evening off with a night cap in the bar of their hotel, where the Cutest Couple were playing cards and being cute to keep warm. They would go back to Villafranca the next day and I might not see them again, so we exchanged numbers. One glass of tinto did its best to warm the cockles of my heart and then I went back to my cosy room to crawl under the covers.