Sunday, June 1, 2008

De Palas de Rei

These photos relate to the blog post below. That post covers the journey from Triacastela to Sarria via Samos, on 30 May 2008.
369. Dinner at Triacastela, with Terry, Marjolein and Manon370. Entering San Cristobo, a traditional, small village
371. The mill at San Cristobo
372. Companions on the green way
373. Mary is powering on towards Samos
374. The Benedictine monastery at Samos
375. Our guide at the monastery and some of his appreciative audience. Not all were travelling to Santiago on foot.
376. The tranquil monastery courtyard
377. Another perspective
378. A view of the courtyard from above
379. A corridor mural in the monastery
380. More detail with our wonderful guide
381. The path from Samos towards Sarria
382. An iglesia on the way in a remote valley
383. The interior of my private albergue at Sarria. It was very pleasant, unusually comfortable and uncrowded.
384. The mural on the wall leading to the Iglesia de Santa Marina. In the central image, a young strong, tall pilgrim is supporting an older one. I do not know the significance of the image on the right, whether the child is in the nature of a protective angel or, more likely, protected by the pilgrim.
385. The church itself
386. One of the pilgrims' heros, Maurice from Chambery, France who told us proudly that he was 76

This blog post is sent from Palas de Rei, some 69 kms from Santiago! The reference to the Palas is historical (or perhaps aspirational--it´s now a minor administrative centre!).

It´s some three days since my last post. Here are some updating notes. At last I have a proper keyboard.

Thursday night in Triacastela, 29 May 2008

This night was memorable for a lovely dinner with Terry, a retired school counsellor from a Christian Brothers school in Dublin who is continuing the Camino after his wife was sadly forced to "retire hurt", and two very engaging Dutch women documentary and program makers, Manon and Marjolein, from Amsterdam.

We joined up after the Pilgrims Blessing to which we went in pouring rain. That is perhaps worth recounting. The priest welcomed us with a printed sheet in our own language, albeit with a rather didactic tone, on the true meaning of the Camino. He then said Misa with frequent liturgical digressions entirely in Spanish at a pace that few non-native Spanish speakers could follow. Native Spaniards made up less than 10% of the congregation. He was given to exhorting us (berating is a better term) to respond more loudly in Spanish. At least he gave us Gospel texts to read in four languages (I did the English version, from Luke, on the journey to Emmaus which had a Camino message perhaps of seeing Christ in fellow pilgrims) and we did a Pilgrims Blessing in six languages. He spoke only in Spanish and assumed our facility with it.

He was a lot better than the priest who said Misa last night in Portomarin. Misa was scheduled for 8.30 pm, a little late for pilgrims. The Rosary finished at 8.45 and we moved into the Misa. The priest faced the people but otherwise it was pre-Vatican 1. There was no lay participation at all beyond a single elderly crone acolyte whose role was much less than that of a 1950s Australian altar boy. Pilgrims made up half of the congregation (and greatly lowered its average age despite the fact that it was not the younger pilgrims attending Misa) but there was no reference to them, and no blessing. We came out shaking our heads with bemusement. (Young Spaniards do not clog up the churches, unsurprisingly.)

Friday 30 May 2008, Triacastela to Sarria via Samos

There are two routes to Sarria from Triacastela. The one via San Xil is 6.5 kms shorter and the traditional pilgrim route. Despite these considerable attractions, I went via Samos to see the Benedictine Monastery there. The monastery was originally founded in the C6 although it has been extensively rebuilt over the centuries. From the C11 it was a pilgrim hospice and in the C12 it was given to the care of the Benedictines of Cluny. We had a guided tour from an elderly, tiny, lovable monk who spoke with such passion and affection for the monastery, its history, art, cloisters etc, entirely in quick Spanish. But it did not matter at all since we got his drift and his heart was pure and his ego invisible. The monastery was just splendid and memorable.

I walked to Samos with Mary, an interesting US woman of Korean background, recently retired from a senior executive position based in Asia. Her blisters forced her to be hospitalised in Burgos and resulted in a continuing bone infection from which she suffers. She had to have her boot cut off in hospital, poor thing. She has a large spirit in a tiny frame. And was a great source of chocolate. (We generally walk for 2 hours or so before taking food or coffee and so chocolate is always a welcome gift. (I try not to start the day with it from my own supply but save it for the last few hard kilometers of the day.)). Mary was planning to stay overnight at the albergue attached to the monastery and attend Vespers etc.

After Samos, there was a beautiful walk via the Rio Ouribo which we had followed from Triacastela, through numerous river valleys, up green hills etc. It was a hot sunny day, the first for some time and I got burned before twigging to the need for sun cream. The trip was also much longer than the guidebook indicated but worth it.

Since crossing into Galicia, on Thursday morning at about 8 am, just before O´Cebreiro, there has been a stone post every 500 m stating the name of the town or village and the distance from Santiago. These have become welcome friends, marking distance travelled and the identifying the tiny village we are passing, usually imperceptibly.

Crossing into Galicia I thought I smelt the poverty almost immediately. Perhaps it was just the ubiquitous cow shit, in solid and liquid form, that we pass over and through or the heavy moisture that holds the odour. But there seems to be less comfort and affluence than in the other, sunnier, autonomous regions that we have passed through before Galicia. Terry thinks it reminds him of rural Ireland in the 1960s before European money modernised it and greatly increased rural incomes. Like Navarra, Galicia has its own language, Gallego. English does not take you far here.

I thought that Sarria would be crowded since it is the city closest to SdC from which you may commence the Camino and still qualify for the compostella of completion. (You only, but must, need complete the last 100 kms to SdC-the rest of the Camino doesn´t count at all!). It wasn´t busy in the evening and my albergue was empty. However, there were more Spaniards on the Camino on the next morning, Saturday. But that is another day and another post since I´m running out of time and there are other claimants for this single machine. Internet access is not a priority here in Galicia.

More as soon as I can get access.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

hi again paul, I can feel the anticipation from here as thr kms disappear underyour feet and you close in on sdc. My pc won't ever be so interesting. Enjoy the day/s.
Love, Mum.