|On our way to the majestic O Cebreiro.|
Day 17, Walk from Trabadelo to O Cebreiro.
The morning rooster calls and we walk out into the mountains on our way to O Cebreiro. It’ll be an eighteen k walk today. But the map points to a straight incline which only becomes more pronounced as we climb the final eight k. The day begins peacefully, just walking, exploring little towns and mountains, coffee and little churches on the little towns on the way up the mountain, stopping in Porta la Villacare. Its foggy, the air crisp as we walk. A Celtic vibe fills the landscape. La Faba, is the first of the Galician villages we see. It feels magic, especially because we get hummus and crepe for lunch. There’s five more k up feel take us through winding, curving roads through the forest and eventually overlooking miles and miles of valley below.
“It might be five or six k away,” notes the owner of the café.
A baby smiles on his parents' shoulders. We wave goodbye. There is a part of us that loves these little ones so much. We remember those days a decade ago with our kids. And we know there are no more little ones for us. But we love seeing them.
Looming tree branches stretch over us as we walk, reaching up and across the path. They feel more experienced and knowing than the tired humans that walk below them. We are not the first they’ve seen. It all feels beyond time, in another place outside of this time and place. The trees seem to be in on a secret, which we are only just beginning to see. We are in awe of the Celtic crosses we see here. I had no idea they would turn up here, reminding us of the Irish landscape we love. It all feels like a mystery, a shape beyond understanding, an unexpected connection to a grail sighting which legend has it happened in this mountaintop village a thousand years prior. Town fables suggest the Holy Grail itself was hidden away here in the church. But no one really knows. We are all walking and looking for something, some still looking for it.
“We are all walking with a similar purpose,” noted our friend from San Diego, but with our own stories connecting our lives to this old trail. My mind is on an old story I wrote about living and traveling through Texas and Italy, and memories of catching a glimpse of something beautiful, something telling. The Percival legend, of the night that searched the world for the Grail, only to find the truth of its whereabouts when he returned, dwelling at home, at the point of his beginning and departure, resonated with me for years and years. Today, I see that the story does not diminish the search. It actually reminds us that the search is imperative. But so is seeing where our home resides inside. We all find homes in multiple places, revealing multiple truths. We can be home in many places. The Camino can be one of these homes. And it certainly has become one. At least it felt like it walking through O Cebreiro.
Gradually, we all make our way up to the village, converging for snacks and beer, between the stone buildings and Celtic crosses. Friends from the road all gradually start to appear, the four women travelling we’ve seen since Rabanal, the Italians guys we’ve seen along the way. And we chat over dinner, commiserating about journeys. A couple of New Yorkers who’ve been riding bikes the whole time join us as we laugh and laugh throughout dinner. Their sarcasm allows us to chuckle about the unspoken observations, quirks of the road. We chat about bull fights and boccadillos, Spanish food and the odd ways of the road, the ghost towns and grueling days. Neither of them seem to be able to walk. They are both too sore from riding all day, up hill. They both hobble. They are on a three week path to completing the entire Camino.
Overlooking the world, O Cebreiro is our favorite city yet. The grail and its mysteries seem to hang in the air with the fog covering mountains in the distance.
Most of all it’s a place where we laugh and laugh, still tired but able to take it all in, one bit at a time.
|A day for the ages in El Cebreiro.|