14 July 2008

Ruitelàn to Samos

Day 18
7:15 am - 5:00 pm
39.9 km

Another great day with mountains! That's a sentence fragment, Japanese readers, and should not be used for instructional purposes. I just can't help being excited by mountains. There have been so few on this pilgrimage. At the top of today's, I entered the province of Galicia at the town of O Cebreiro. I'd been wanting to visit O Cebreiro for some time, because I think it has a cool name. In Gallego, 'o' and 'a' are used instead of "el" and "la" as articles. This may seem like a minor point to you, but the speakers of local dialects in Spain take them quite seriously. I gather this from all the signs containing "el" that are spray-painted over with "o", for example, and vice-versa. O Cebreiro is particularly cool to me, because when you get there and see the verdant, rolling hills of Galicia from one of its highest points, you too have to say "Ohhh Cebreiro!" Galicia is named for its Celtic (or Gallic, or Gaelic, or Gaulic) indigenes, who once seemed to live everywhere from Scotland and Ireland to France (aka Gaul), Spain, and even Turkey (Galatia). Now, they all own shops that sell "celtic design" souvenirs, which have nothing whatsoever to do with basketball. I enjoyed a variety of my favorite pleasures today, as well. Galicia reminds a bit of Nepal. Like the trails there, the camino in Galicia passes through mostly tiny villages where the locals have set up little cafes and restaurants to entice weary walkers. Also, there's stinky cowshit everywhere.

After hiking, as it were, over the mountains and through the woods (raspberries for sale en route! I didn't have a whole euro for the box, so the old, toothless lady gave it to me for 30 cents! score!), I arrived at the Greek-sounding monastery of Samos, a giant establishment in the middle of nowhere, Galicia. The hospitalero told me I still had time to visit the monastery's interior and then, afterward, listen to the monks sing. Instead, I went to the bar, got half-drunk as usual on cerveza con limòn; went to the restaurant to eat delicious Galician seafood and get the rest of the way drunk from the free wine; went to the supermercado to buy myself an ice cream and, a new guilty pleasure, an ice-cold can of orange Fanta. And then went to bed. Very happy and quite unconcerned that I missed the singing and whatnot. That's another sentence fragment.

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