El Camino Day 28 & 29 -Wind, Rain, Chestnuts and Kiwi’s

La Faba ➡ Triacastela ➡ Sarria

Day 28, I had been on the Camino trail for nearly a month. Nearly a month of early rises to catch sunrises, nearly a month of new friends, and nearly a month of conversation and Spanish wine. Our morning of day 28 however was not the beautiful sunrise at the top of the hill I was hoping for as we crossed the border into the Galacia region in heavy fog. The fog got no more pleasant as we moved through the morning. The wind and then rain tore at our ponchos, shredding what was left, leaving scraps of orange around our necks to be flung back and forward. After an early morning of keeping our headlamps on we arrived in O Cebreiro still in the dark to stop for a coffee. Royce then discovered he had left his almost full pilgrim passport in the Albergue!

We panicked, without the full book of stamps Royce couldn’t receive his certificate of completion of the El Camino Frances. Umming and Ahhing, Royce miraculously got an Instagram message from a fellow pilgrim that had stayed at the Albergue the night before. Thank goodness for social media! They were passing on the message that the hosipitilero had the booklet and gave us his phone number. Relief and gratitude swept over us as we sat in the tightly crammed cafe/bar. The surrounding pilgrims filled in the background of the wood beamed room eating their breakfast at small tables clustered together, readying themselves to depart for the day. We hurriedly organised a place to meet with the hospitilero for later in the day and got ready to set off again.

The weather was heavy with fog, and bitterly cold as we stepped out. We had conferred with the bartender about the next section of our path. During sections of the Camino the trails can deviate, a main route and an alternative route. In the Cold foggy weather there was a deviation. One that took us up a hill and kept mostly off the road. This seemed positive as on the road it would be much harder to be seen in the thick white weather. We decided the uphill away from the road was preferable, and set off. Up we went faces pelted with icy water, the remnants of our ponchos flapping in the wind.

Our journey from La faba to Triacastela was to take us to the very highest point on the Camino, and as it tun out the windiest! We took some obligatory photos at the huge pilgrim statue at the top of a winding rise, before finally making it to the small town where the hospitilero from the night before met us and dropped off the pilgrim passport. We were extremely grateful and humbled by the kindness of this stranger taking time from his day to drop it off. We bought him a hot drink in thanks for making the drive in such awful weather. Warming our stomachs with our drinks and some hot food we steeled ourselves for braving back out into the cold.

Along our day of dismal weather we met up with a Brazilian man who taught us about computer programming while we spent the day enlightening him about the intricacies of working with sheep. From the Ewe (female sheep) mating cycle, to stopping in the middle of our path because we smelled something fly struck and probably dead. Though to most (and to our walking companion) this is a very strange thing to notice. To ourselves, the shepherds, having a nose for death is quite important. Normally for the purpose of going to investigate.

As the rain fell again, we finally made it to Triacastela, our stop for the night and met up with our friend Reggie’s friend, another Brazilian man. We discovered that for the entire walk neither had sat down for albergue/home cooked meal. Royce and I endeavoured to rectify this and cooked up a storm in the exceedingly small and poorly equipped albergue kitchen. We noticed as we came closer to Santiago the cooking facilities became less frequent and were less well equipped. We cooked a delicious meal of devilled sausages, along with pan popped popcorn and roasted chestnuts. A proper feast to end the day!

The following morning the weather was even more grim than our road to Triacastela, and the morning was a cold wet trudge. Along the way we met up with the Australian woman Sam and her same group of Camino friends. People from other countries who couldn’t to begin with fathom the relationship between us, the New Zealanders and Sam the Australian. As with any meet up with occupants of the two countries, there was much name calling and good humoured insults. It is a big brother little brother relationship, with cultures that if you aren’t insulting one another you probably are not friends. We joined their small group for a morning coffee, after which they powered ahead while Royce and I dawdled, taking photos and enjoying our walk.

We ran into them yet again as we came into Sarria and stopped for Lunch. We had booked a private room in Sarria as we needed a decent bed, and the following day would make only 100kms left to walk. The room was exactly what I needed, not a private bathroom, but the house was small with only a few occupants and the bathroom was gigantic. A proper shower that wouldn’t turn off after 30 seconds and a large pillow covered bed to lie in! Heaven after so many days on the road. We napped and rested before heading out for dinner.

Near to our nights residence we found a nice little restaurant serving a pilgrim meal where we dined. We sat down and to the left of us couldn’t help overhearing a kiwi accent (they are fairly unusual even on the Camino) The meal wore on to the main course and two of the four occupants stared at us;

“Royce and Courtney is that you?” the blonde Lady asked.

“Ahh yes.” Royce replied slightly, unsure if we should remember these people.

“It’s Brittany, we met just outside Puente la Reina. I can’t believe you’re here!” She exclaimed. “We thought with your knee you must have gone home.” Brittany motion at her father, the older man beside her. He knodded

“I’m ashamed to say I had totally written you off.” He laughed. I chuckled back.

“Takes more than that to stop me.” I said and explained the trouble I had then had with my ankle as well. The four kiwis; Brittany, her father, and there two companions sat wide eyed in shock that I had made it to Sarria at all!

We concluded our dinner, then sat down with the four for a few reminiscence drinks. It was a great evening, and after my previous experience with New Zeelanders on the trip was heartened by the welcoming people we sat with. It renewed my faith in my country some. I retain that New Zealand is not perfect, despite what many people say. It undoubtedly has its flaws culturally, but it also could be a lot worse. I sank into the double bed that night feeling a little lighter.

Thanks for tuning in, getting close to the end now. Subscribe to stay up to date for the last few posts to Santiago! Don’t forget to hit the like button and leave us a comment. Royce is now back from his jaunt back in warmer climes, and will share some photos from his adventures on Instagram. Head over to @thetravellingshepherds to check it out. Until next time get out that gate!

Buen Camino

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