Tag Archives: Olveiroa

Every Story has a Middle

Negreira to Olveiroa
Saturday 6 December  

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A Dark and Misty Morning. Near Negreira

It was a long walk today. Over thirty three kilometres. Perhaps more, although I wasn’t sure if there were alburgues open further along the route. I started early, and stupidly forgot to have a coffee form the vending machine in the alburgue. Fogginess begets stupidity. It was twelve kilometers until coffee or breakfast. Dark and misty in the valleys below as I climbed the hills with interment downpours. The rain began to abate, and I was presented with a double rainbow. Two pots of gold! The path was not as well marked in this section, and I had to rely on landmarks from my guidebook.  I turned a corner and saw a tree that had grown and formed a complete circle as the two branches had joined at the top. It’s leaves were yellowing, and I thought it rather lovely.

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Circular Tree. Near Negreira

Finally stopping for coffee and breakfast I caught up with several others who had stayed at the alburgue the previous evening. They were all complaining of how noisy it had been in the dorm, I was glad of my ‘disabled room’, the snoring was also disabled. I walked for a while with an Irish man who had flown over for a long weekend just to walk this Camino. He had a similar job to me, and led walking tours in Ireland. He said he was a bit of a joke with his friends, as he spends his time off doing walks, mostly pilgrimages, and he’s an Irish Protestant! We walked together until the next town with a bar, where he very generously bought me a beer. After that I sped up, I was in afternoon fast walking mode. I was now keen to get to Finisterre, today my walking was about the destination, and I wasn’t so much enjoying the actual path.

©Sally Arnold
A Lone Tree with a Cloudy Sky.

Arriving in Olveriroa, I caught up with a girl I had met that morning. We were both keen to walk further, but unsure that any alburgues would be open, decided to stay. The municipal alburgue here was like a small village – a collection of delightful little stone houses, one with the reception, one with the kitchen, and several with sleeping facilities. There was a sign to find a bed, and the hospitaliro would be back later to pay. The first door we opened was a large two story dorm with lots of beds. As I had read there were several houses, I thought I would try some of the other doors. I opened the door of the smallest house, and it had one bunk bed on the ground floor, and the bathroom, and upstairs, another bunk and a single bed. We nabbed the upstairs, as it was probably going to be warmer. We were soon joined by a young Canadian man who lived in Santiago de Compostela. He chose the downstairs. No one else joined us, as they probably hadn’t checked the other houses, however the larger building filled up later.

It was freezing inside the room. The temperature on the camino had plummeted in the last couple of days. Winter was setting in. I would be zipping up my sleeping bag tonight. I was hungry, so went in search of food and warmth. I’d only had breakfast today. The only  bar in town was delightfully warm. I was joined by the Canadian, so we had dinner together. He worked teaching English in Spain. It was interesting talking to him about the cost of living in Spain, and life in general. We were later joined by the girl I had met earlier, and the Irish man, who had given up on the alburgue due to the noise the previous night – he had checked into a room at the bar. The camaraderie of new friends again made for another delightful Camino evening.

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The End is the Beginning

Olveiroa to Finisterre
Sunday 7 December

Another long day of walking, as I wanted to make it to Finisterre before sunset. The days are much shorter now so I had to start in the dark (not actually that early, as it was still dark at eight thirty).

There is an option from Olveiroa to walk first to either Finisterre or Muxia. Finisterre was the end of the world, back when the earth was flat, beyond there be monsters. There have been pilgrimages here long before the Christian Camino. Muxia is where the body of Saint James (Santiago, Jacque, Jacob), was legendarily washed ashore covered in scollop shells. Recently you have been able to receive a Compostela for both of these pilgrimages. I wanted to go to Finisterre first, as to me it felt the right order.  I liked the romantic notion of Finis – Terre, the end of the world, to end my original planned route.

©Sally Arnold
A Folk in the Road,  Near Cee.

I was keen to arrive, but today I felt an overwhelming calmness. I was in no rush. It felt like the end. The paths were soft beneath my feet. I was looking forward to seeing the sea. The Atlantic. The first couple of towns I passed had alburgues open, I could have walked a little further yesterday. The rain stopped.  The path continued down, and up, then, there it was… the sea rose ahead. I had a quick intake of breath. I love the sea. I love the mountains, but I really love the sea. I could smell it, I’d missed it.

I was soon in the town of Cee, by the Sea! It was a bustling village, it seemed everybody was out for Sunday lunch, and it was market day. I was hungry, but still had a long walk if I wanted to get to Finisterre before dark. I walked through the town, following the yellow arrows which led up the hill, and down again… Perhaps I should have just followed the coast. As I was leaving town, my stomach got the better of me when I saw a sign for a pizza restaurant. Pizza, that would make a change. It wouldn’t take that long. I entered the bustling cafe, and was directed to the empty Resturant behind. I waited. I ordered a seafood pizza, and a half bottle of wine. The usual ‘free wine’ wasn’t included with this meal. I waited. I drank some wine and waited some more. The pizza eventually came, and it was worth the wait. Fresh seafood, thin, crispy. Just how I like it.

©Sally Arnold
To The End!

Time to get back on track. I was feeling content. It was a bit of a climb for this final stage, and the path was not that well marked, so had to keep an eye out for markers. There was a sudden turn to the left along a red muddy path, and two cyclists came plummeting down the hill towards me as the heavens opened. I jumped out of the way as I fumbled for my rain gear. Up the hill I climbed, and then the view! It was worth waking this direction. The maker had been painted with a message ‘to the end’, so to the end I continued. I felt light.

©Sally Arnold
Fading Light at Finisterre

I arrived into the town of Finisterre, and started to look for an open alburgue. I wanted to put down my pack and walk to Cape Finisterre, another few kilometres. All that was open was the municipal Albergue, it would have to do.  I was in a hurry as the light would soon start to fade. I checked in and deposited my bag. I was issued with my new Compostela, the certificate for the Pilgrimage from Santiago de Compostela to Finisterre.

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Lighthouse at the End of the World. Finisterre..
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Sun Setting on the Lighthouse at the End of the World. Finisterre.
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The Bronze Boot at the End of the World. Finisterre.

It was easier walking without my pack, but I had forgotten my trekking poles. I am used to walking with them, but no time to return. The light was dimming. I hurried. I could see the unusual deco style three story pyramid lighthouse ahead, but it was still some distance away. Cars were retuning, passing me in the opposite direction. I noticed a couple in the distance walking towards me. As I approached, they speed up, and crossed the road in my direction. He was grinning. It took me a moment to recognise him, my Brazillian friend! We hugged, and hugged again. His friend was his new girlfriend, whom he had convinced to fly from Brazil to join him on the Camino. We had walked out of Saint Jean Pied Port together, but had lost each other along the way. We had been sending messages, but hadn’t managed to catch up… until now. If it was a movie, it would have been too corny an ending. The beginning is the end. The end is the beginning. They were rushing to catch their bus back to Santiago, I was rushing to catch the last light at the end of the world. We hugged and parted. I grinned and felt the joy of yet again experiencing the magic of the camino. Full circle.

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From Paris to the End of the World! Finesterre.

It was getting dark, but there were still tinges of red in the western sky. I passed the lighthouse and the crowds of day-trippers. The smell of burnt clothing permeated the air. It has become a tradition for pilgrims to burn an article (or all) of their clothing here, and return Phoenix-like to the world. I climbed down the rocky cliff, cautious without my sticks. The tourists were snapping away, but I just wanted to sit and contemplate. I found a comfortable spot on the rocks with the sea crashing below. The red and orange soon turned to black, and the area emptied. I’d made it. I’d made it from Paris to the End of the World.