The walk from Samos into Sarria and and beyond gave one another solid dose of “Galician Magnificence”. There is something so humbling about being surrounded by mountains. As much as I loved the openness and big skies of the meseta, it was the mountains that stole my heart. The misty mornings, spring blossoms and literally hundreds of shades of green were just breathtaking. My plan had been to push on to Portamarin from Samos but my legs started objecting and I stopped in Ferrerios. If I had to chose, I would say that the stretch from Sarria into Ferrerios was my favourite of the day. The images included in the slideshow below are from this section.
It was also during the section into Ferrerios that we passed the 100km marker (distance to Santiago). I missed the marker but this one is close enough! The last 100km is significant because it is the minimum required to apply for a Compostela certificate when reaching Santiago. As a result, the number of people from this point increases significantly.
The albergue in Ferrerios was surprisingly new and well equipped. All along the Camino, it never ceased amaze me how a good meal, full set of clean clothes and a comfortable mattress allowed for a remarkable, sometimes near miraculous, recovery after a long day of walking.
Because of our “day off” in Ponferrado and my detour to Samos I now found myself about 13km behind my Camino Family (aka Camino Tribe). My original plan had been to arrive in Santiago on Sunday, the 5th of May. On a Sunday, the 12 o’clock pilgrim mass in the Santiago Cathedral includes the swinging of the Botafumeiro, a giant incense burner. Most people I had met and come to know were also planning to get to Santiago on that day and the idea of all arriving and attending the pilgrim mass together was wonderful. So, I was torn between not rushing the last few days and wanting to finish together, as planned. There was also the small issue of the actual number of kilometers that needed to be walked to get there! At Ferrerios, I had to make a call, either to catch up at Palas de Rei, which would mean a 38km walk or reach Santiago on Monday, the 6th of May.
That night I I read this section from the book I was reading “To The Field of Stars”, by Kevin Codd:
“Perhaps the time has come for me to let go of my camino and allow it to become from this point on OUR camino. From here on the pilgrimage becomes something new for me. I am no longer alone on this strange road across Iberia; we are in this together to the end.”
My decision was made. Our Camino needed to be finished together. I walked for 12 hours the next day and caught my friends. I am so grateful I did. Finishing together really was the absolute highlight of the journey for me.
I was out of the Ferrerios albergue and walking by 05h00 the next morning. It was pitch dark for the first few hours and just ridiculously beautiful. Apart from the nightjars calling non stop, it was absolutely quiet. I walked completely on my own until I reached Portamarin, apart from a stop in at a South African run albergue, where I had a quick cup of Rooibos tea!
Just a note on the “new” pilgrims. As I said, we were now into the last 100km of the Camino Frances. Walking it in a quiet time of year as we did, it is quite a bump when there are suddenly so many people around. This was especially the case after my peaceful walk into Portamarin. Just through the town, I turned a corner and this is what I saw.....
I caught up with Philipp at Gonzar just after I took this photo. We were two very happy little ants to be together again! Tim and Scott also arrived and we had a great coffee together. We were, however, all in a mild state of shock because of the mass influx of pilgrims. There was a long queue for the bathroom and an even longer coffee queue (this being a real potential issue going ahead!). We had somehow also managed to land up in the middle of a tour group of about 70 South Koreans. I was all the more grateful to have caught up with the people I had come so far with.
Along the way we also caught up with Susie and Kkin. So much happiness! The walk from Gonzar to Palas de Rei was a blur of coffee and laughter.
I have to say that I had a tired set of legs getting into Palas de Rei! We found Dale and Eric and Kevin at a pub close to the albergue. The albergue was full so we found a pensión. I was not that disappointed to have a room to myself for the night! We all went to dinner together and I was a very tired but happy pilgrim when I went to sleep that night.
I was privileged to spend a lot of time exploring wilderness areas in southern Africa from a very young age. I got my first camera when I was 6 years old and I have been passionate about wildlife and landscape photography ever since.