We started our day by climbing up out of the town of Gonzar to the top of a ridge. For miles in every direction we could see the deep green Galician countryside, the valleys covered in layers of early morning mist. At every turn the vista would change, opening up into views that were more beautiful than the one before.
Late yesterday afternoon we passed the 100 kilometer marker (the distance remaining to Santiago) and, as our guides had warned us, the trail is becoming more and more congested with pilgrims. Many are singing as they burn through their morning caffeine. Others are quiet, contemplative, as they listen to the crunch of gravel under each footstep. Some talked quietly as they walked side-by-side, and still others (including Jon and I) stood on the side of the Camino in awe as we tried to take in the scene before us: ancient stone buildings with thatched roofs, elaborate hórreos (raised boxes made of stone and wood used to store corn), rolling hills dotted with farms and tiny hamlets, a pen full of fattened pigs, a cat hunting in the grass, and a woman calling, “Buen Camino!” as she made cheese in her kitchen window. Later in the morning we walked by a paddock of baby cows, a rooster crowing and chasing after six freaked-out hens scattered across the Camino (seriously), and a million other birds singing in the trees. It’s really that enchanting. Each day here feels like a fairy-tale.
After six miles of steep hills and rock studded paths to Palas De Rei, I was ready to eat just about anything, including the half-melted and squished granola bar I found at the bottom of my pack. My water was warm, my feet were sweltering in my boots, and I became an unflattering mix of hungry and angry of which Jon affectionately calls: Hangry.
“Only another 1 kilometer until lunch,” Jon read from the map our guides gave us the night before. I grumbled in response and concentrated on putting one dusty boot in front of the other.
It wasn’t long before I heard, “Buen Camino!” coming from under a wooden canopy and saw the waving arms of our fearless guides, Carol and Pedro, who had gone ahead to set up a picnic. From the local market they had put together a lunch of chilled wine, local greens and late summer vegetables, prepared a white bean dish with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, rolled thin-sliced cured beef from a local butcher with fresh goat cheese and prepared a dessert plate of salted Marcona almonds, macaroons and fresh picked raspberries. We had a picnic fit for royalty.
Funny how a little rest, delicious food, and a whole lot of good wine made that last five miles so easy!
Kristin Jarvis Adams is a public speaker and advocate for children with special needs, helping to bridge the gap between the outside world and the inner world of autism. Her speaking engagements have included: Seattle Festival of Trees Gala, a benefit for Seattle Children’s Hospital and The Seattle Children’s Autism Clinic. Learn More>>