Wednesday, September 11, 2013

"Stuck in the Middle With You"

Triacastela to Samos, 10 km

Today is the day right in the middle of my Camino... I can't believe that, starting tomorrow, I will have more days behind me than in front of me.  

The tower from the Church in Triacastela.  The priest there was very nice, although incredibly unorthodox with the liturgy.  The church is St. James, and the statue underneath the bell is of Santiago Peregrino.

So, today was pretty uneventful, as 10 km really isn't that far.  At the same time, I was pretty sure that I had the wrong trail, since the Camino splits right after Triacastela.  One way goes straight to Sarria, and the other goes through Samos.  My guide book mentions that the road to Samos isn't that well marked, and that the Samos route is almost all tree lined path, but longer than the direct route.  When I read that, I took it to mean that I wouldn't be on the highway at all, so when the first 3 km were on the side of the highway, I figured that I had somehow gotten on the direct route.  I about jumped for joy when I reached the first tiny village and it confirmed that I had actually NOT gotten lost for the first time on my Camino!

This is San Christobo, the tiny village I was talking about.  I had to take a picture of this because it is so redundant...there are at least 7 yellow arrows that are visible in this picture, and the only thing I could think when I saw this was that someone in this village was getting tired of giving us poor pilgrims directions!

Beyond that, the scenery was gorgeous, and I loved walking through the woods as the leaves are just beginning to turn and fall off.  It was glorious to be showered with golden leaves in the brisk wind. In one of the other small villages I passed, there were signs everywhere reminding us not to answer nature's call anywhere in the village.  One owner purposely put the sign up in order to partially cover the yellow arrow on the corner of their house as a pointed reminder.  The thought occurred to me that the remedy to such a problem would be planting poison ivy or poison oak in common areas of elimination.  I couldn't help but giggle a little at the thought, although I immediately repented of ill-wishing other pilgrims.  Besides, it made much more sense when I realized that there were no facilities between Triacastela and Samos.  At every little village I went through, I kept thinking that there would be a bar where I could grab some tea and head to the little girl's room, and every time I was dissappointed.

   About 3-4 km outside of Samos, I passed an old mill.  It amused me to see some true millstones leaning against the side of the building.  It puts those Bible verses from Jesus about hanging a millstone around your neck into perspective!

 Not long after this, I passed an older French gentleman taking pictures of some small car parked in someone's barn.  So I asked him if that was a Trabi... He told me, no, it was a Fiat.  Then, in spite of our lack of a mutual language, he told me that the car he was photographing was the same make and model car he had owned 40 years ago.  As I walked on, I thought about how Dad probably would have done the same thing, and it made me smile at the universality of the human condition.

By the time I saw this sign, my bladder was getting close to bursting.  I could hardly wait to find a place to do my business!

Since my Albergue didn't open until close to 2pm, I decided to take a tour of the Monastery.  However, there weren't enough english speakers for a tour in English.  There were 3 others who spoke little or no Spanish, so, since I knew the most Spanish, I ended up translating for the others. It is a good thing that the tour guide was speaking slowly, as I actually understood more than usual--probably close to 80%.  Of course, having to listen and practice is probably helping as well.  Even so, I felt a little like the blind leading the blind!

Because this monastery has such a historical and regional significance, when it was decided to make it a working monastery again, the monastery at Monte Cassino gave them the Relic of St. Benedict's Femur.   I so wanted to touch my rosary to this, but was afraid that alarms would go off or something.  A picture will have to suffice!

And, as I was getting ready for Mass this evening, I realized that some of the welts that I thought were mosquito bites were actually little patches of rash, since they were weeping and had multiple bumps rather than the single bump of a bite.  I think it might be God's way of reminding me that I really shouldn't purposely try to teach a lesson to others the hard way.  I'm still not sure what is causing the rash, but I am coming into contact with so many different environments that it really could be anything.

This is the front of the sanctuary where the pilgrim's mass was held.  The monastery was built over three different time periods, beginning in the 8th century.  This part is the most recent part of the building in Baroque style.  This monastery's greatest  claim to fame is that it is the oldest Albergue on the Camino.

One of the many murals in my Albergue.  It is part of the Monastery complex, although the monks no longer run it... It is run by volunteer Hospitaleros.

Tomorrow is the Acid test, since it is my first 15 km day since my injury.  How I do tomorrow will tell me how the rest of my Camino will go.  I just need to make sure that I take it slow and take rests, and I should be fine, but it is still a scary prospect.

Even though I am getting to the 100 km mark, this graffiti artist gives a good reality check!