Camino Diary: Walking The Camino Francais Day Forty Four

DAY FORTY FOUR: 21 November 2012 Santa Marina to Cee, Day Three of the Camino Fisterra

IMAG1398Hallelujah, hallelujah, I have never been so happy to wake up beside a graveyard.  Casa Pepa in Santa Marina wins the prize for being the most unexpected and divinely welcome surprise of an albergue.  Dinner, bed, hot showers, wifi what more could a needy pilgrim want.  I loved everything about the solid reality of it, I could feel the vibration of love in its creation.  A little puzzled by its proprieters; a family team Mum, Dad, baby and grand parents.  Continuing the magical themes of yesterday it was clear they were hobbits who had no idea how magical they were.  This little business singing and humming around them like a bewitched kettle while they solemnly hold the fort, gently warming up the longer I stayed.  It was a strange sensation the feeling the place was running the show not the people, it was easy to linger over breakfast.

Leaving Santa Marina there was a new world; the pit of witches, trolls, imps and warlocks behind me on the timeline.  The benign smile of Mother Earth warms my heart with a different kind of magic. Dropping down to the Rio Xallas Olveiroa is a welcome stop for breakfast and with a couple of albergues and Casa Rurales it is full of familiar pilgrim verve.  Leaving the small village I cross an emerald green stream, no place for trolls here, this feels full of the magic of elvin people and giveaway wishes even the usually garish harshness of the windfarm on the top of the hill is softened and muted.  Tall, elegant taut bodies of metal harnessing the invisible forces of the wind in service to mankind.  Too busy to talk or recuperating.  I walk in hushed reverence to the top of this world and rejoin the road at Hospital where a stuttering chain of articulated lorries rush me to the coast and in the middle of what seems to be nowhere the large hulk of the Fabrica of Dumbria and Marina’s last chance saloon as John Brierley puts it in his guide.

IMAG1399It is right and fitting to stop for a coffee before I head across the moors and one of the longest and most isolated stretches on this camino, 12.3km according to the guide but for convenience rounded up on  the sign at Cafe O Castellion.  It is too early for me to stop for the night but that doesnt stop Marina trying to get me to stay in her new albergue.  It is good to see more places to stay opening up on this camino.  Up to recently it could only be done in three long stages staying in pilgrim hostals.  I am looking forward to the walk across the moors but my poor body is beginning to creak and ache under the dead weight of my pack and the relentlessness of my determined walking.  Reaching the high point of the day at 370m and the junction of the Camino Muxia and the Camino Fisterra it is like I have walked throught the gateway to the sky, its light blue watery wash is a handstretch away.  There is a religosity to this walk, perhaps the magic dewdrop of the little chapel to Our Lady of the Snows or the impending promise of the ocean.

IMAG1400I need Van Morrison to take me across the line to see the sea at Cee.  The rush of my welcome friend washed over me as I spied it in the distance nd the lure of its salty embrace spurred me on down the bone throbbing suffering slope and into the slopy outskirts of the confident industrial port town.  The friendly promenade put me in hope of solace in a quaint seaside hostal but this is a town that is trying to be modern despite the scars of history.  The streets are scrappy and anticipatory buildings abandoned and uncared for.  I falter and am felled by my romantic heart to stay at the Hotel Camino das Estrelas. My worst hostel experience to date.  A flash hotel with all mod cons, a hostal tacked on to the side. I join three stoic pilgrims who are resigned to no hot water, no heating and no wee-fee so I do what is obvious, loose my temper, stamp into the hotel, say f*&k and then face off to the poor staff member and demand she check out the shower to prove that it is hot.  She sees me back and in the end I am the one who disrobes with a flourish to fortunately discover that there must have been a secret switch in reception that was flipped unseen as I bravely stepped into water that moments before had pierced my skin with its chillness.  The whole experience sticks in my craw even more when I later discover that Kevin, once lost now found, has braved the closed up sign at my first choice hostel and manifested a cosy room for himself. The end of the earth is just one day away and beyond that the Coast of Death.  Perhaps I am having trouble walking to the edge of the known to step into the abyss.

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