Over and over again I hear of the culture and people of Galicia. Santiago itself is in Galicia, the region boarder is crossed about 2 k from the top of the mountain at O’CEBREIRO. Since I worked so hard in climbing this mountain, I was going to enjoy this little village situated on top of the world.
Brierly states that, “The mountains of Galicia are the first object in 5,000 km that the westerly winds coming across the Atlantic hit, so expect a weather change.” Indeed, the wind was howling, the sun was warm in the day, and the winds were bitter at night. In addition, one could enjoy both the sunset and the sunrise over the mountains that seem to go on forever. Once again, I was on top of the world.
The adaptation to the environment had the people build huts out of stone with a thick straw roof. (When I get a stronger Internet I will upload photos.) The people here in the Ancares mountain region lived off the mountain land by farming, raising cattle, sheep and planting big gardens. They have one of the huts open for visitation. In addition to being part of the Camino, this cute little village is also popular with tourists.
The church here, Santa Maria la Real dates from the 9 th century and is the oldest existing church associated directly with the pilgrim way. It has administered to the needs of pilgrims since the “twilight of the first millennium.”
An earlier parish priest, Don Elias Valina Sampedro is buried here. Much of his life was spent restoring the integrity of the Camino, and it was his idea to mark the path with the yellow arrows all along the way. It was largely due to his efforts that pilgrims can walk the route today, especially without getting lost! Can I tell you how MUCH I love those arrows?
Today I spent much of the morning praying in the church. It was good to be there. I had tears of gratitude as my time here is starting to wind down. It has been an exciting journey! I also spent time just looking at the mountains and giving thanks, with Psalm 148 taking the lead. I gave thanks for this sacred time on the Camino that has blessed me beyond measure. I hope my writing this little travel journal has enabled you to join me on this journey.
Since I have been walking to Santiago, but I know I do not have time to get there on foot, tomorrow I will take an early morning bus so that I can at least see the church and the relics that I have been journeying towards; yet the journey has been so much more. It has never really been about the final destination, but rather it had been about the journey itself. It is always about the journey!