Monday, 11 May 2015

Asturianos to Laza - 164kms to go.

Some times when writing a blog it's easy to make it seem as it is all a bed of roses but that's far from the truth. A lot of the days are simply a hard slog across land that has no other merit than to get you to where you want to be. The journey from Asturianos was like that. Muddy rutted track that was banded by white gorse and close enough to the motorway to be irritating.  Then it is head down and get on with it. 
 Then there are the little villages that break up,the monotony and bring a spring back into the step. 

Coming across traffic jams of sheep are always a way to lessen the tread and relax, as I found when entering Puebla de Sanabria. 

Or finding myself scratching my head and in the same town to be approached by member of the Guarda Civil and guided onto the correct path. 

Then there are the unexpected twists that you don't expect such as diversions, like the one that took me the wrong way to Requeio de Sanabria to avoid the high speed train construction traffic. 

But ended up guiding me through woods and along ancient drovers's tracks into a magical world of dappled sunlight and moss covered stone walls. But once I had arrived at that town I was able to relax on a balcony and enjoy the rewards of hard day's walking.

And, of course there are the mini-crises such as the one I encountered leaving Requero de Sanabria. I lost the arrows and determined not to go back found a traffic sign indicating that following the road would get me to my next destination, in this case, A Gudina. My diligence was rewarded as I shadowed the motorway, until I saw it disappear into a tunnel. That meant one thing for my road, a steep climb, or a tunnel. It was the latter, 450 metres long and it may as well have been lit with candles for all the illumination the wall lights gave out. Alongside the tunnel for the high speed train looked like a gaping mouth as if to say, 'you're not really going to walk through there, are you?'

Well, one thing I wasn't going to do was take a backward step. I could see that someone had already been through the tunnel from the boot marks  on the ground. I only hoped I did not meet their skeleton half way along. I opened my iPad and angled it towards the traffic, hoping the lights of the oncoming traffic would reflect in it. There was a makeshift footpath but it was rutted and I couldn't see where I was putting my foot. Needless to say I tripped and went crashing into the corrugated sheet that lined the walls sending a cascade of dirty water over my foot. After what seemed like an age I exited and found that i had tunnelled my way into Galicia. But what a way to get there. 

And then there was today, 34kms over the mountains to Laza from A Gudina. An early start up a long hill set the blood racing and the heart pumping. To my left rolling hills and valleys and to my right mountains reflected in the lake below. The sun tried its best to force a way through the glowering sky but wasn't being too successful.

Soon the road gave way to track that took me over rough hills where only heather and gorse could survive. I passed through an abandoned railway station where the houses that once had families and open fires and laughing children now lay empty and broken. Like the dreams of the engineers that built the 100 or so tunnels that connected Ourense in northern Galicia to the outside world. 

The track narrowed to a country lane and a lone farmer and his nine dogs came out of a stone house. I had already passed his small plot of sprouts plants, now devoid of their love them or hate them progeny. The detritus of this ancient farm around. Miles of wire and string. Old tyres, long forgotten machinery and stone and slate from buildings that could no longer support themselves. 

I cleaved my way through the dogs who showed no interest save for a corgi that decided my heels needed a good nip. The farmer shouted at it but it took no heed. I ran towards it snarling and it shot off. The farmer raised his stick in acknowledgement, I waved back. And the dog looked at me from behind the  safety of his masters legs.

The weather closed and soon I felt I could touch the clouds that drifted down towards me like an old  man's beard. I expected a face to appear at any moment asking me what I was doing here. 

After a long and tricky descent over broken slate  I took coffe in the village of Campobecerros The bar had seen some history. In the corner an old lady sat in an even older chair and between them was a wood burning stove that warmed the room. A stove pipe rose from it and turned ninty degrees befor exiting through the stone wall. Nearby was a canary. I surmised that if it died it would be time to open the windows. I large cup of coffe was accompanied by a delicious slab of eggy cake. The lady bar keeper asked how many pilgrims were coming this way. We conversed in sign language. I had no idea so held up ten fingers, she seemed satisfied and dissapeared, presumably to get supper for ten. I hope they turned up.

At the top of the hill above the village is a tall cross, placed to commerate the pilgrims who have died walking this route. Time lapse on the iPad and a few stones to stop it falling over made for a presentable selfie, I thought.

From now on it was all downhill to my destination. Through a veritable explosion of flower and shrubs and the ever present aroma of gorse. To my right the hill cascaded away and small villages cuddled into it for protection. Eleven kilometres of descent took me through a natural layer cake of heathland, pine forest and oak clad slopes before tumbling out into my destination, suffering from over exposure to flowers and beautiful scenery. 

I got the key for the hostel from the local protection men and women who seem to also be the local fire police and ambulance. 

So here I am,  only 160kms to go, and as you can see, the camino always has a surprise up its sleeve and no two days are ever the same.

Laza, my home for the night.



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