Day 30 – 9th November 2016, Pontevedra to Caldas de Reis.
Poetry in motion.
The countdown to Santiago de Compostela begins today. Only three days to go. After a peaceful and restful night at Hotel Ruas in Pontevedra, we nodded our goodbyes to the diminutive statue of the writer, poet and dramatist Ramón María del Valle-Inclán on our way through the plazas and cobbled streets of the city.
One thing that I truly love about the Camino is that one is immersed in numerous discoveries of history, art and culture all the way along the route. Note that after I returned from our Camino Portugues stroll I looked up the poems of Ramón María del Valle-Inclán.
Here is an example, Rosa Deshojada (the leafless or defoliated rose). Like other Romance languages, Spanish is beautifully mellifluous and paints a vivid picture. I’m afraid I couldn’t find a translation into English and my translation skills may not be at the standard to do Mr. Valle-Inclán. justice. So I have included only the Spanish version here for your enjoyment.
Alto y triste el cielo,
y luna en hocino…
¿Por qué de la vida?
¿Qué fin truje a ella?
¿Qué senda perdida
labré con mi huella?
Ya logran mis años
las quietas razones
de los desengaños.
Perecen las glorias,
se apagan los días,
quedan por memorias
las cenizas frías.
De aquel ardimiento
ni aun ceniza queda,
se la lleva el viento,
viento y polvareda.
Viento entre las mieses,
croar de las ranas,
y luces livianas.
del último día.
Alto y triste el cielo,
y luna en hocino…
by Ramón María del Valle-Inclán
Ultreia through grey city streets and geopolitics.
It was a murky morning, but this didn’t dim our spirits or our zest for walking. The excitement of soon reaching Santiago was tangible.
You may know already that once you begin your journey along El Camino de Santiago, whichever route you choose, the simplicity of the daily routine and hours upon hours of walking become so much of a pleasure, after the initial week or so of pain and discomfort!
Ultreia! Off we trotted into the elephant greyness of damp streets and alleyways of the old quarter and down to the Rio Leréz and crossed the Ponte do Burgo and picked up a section of the Roman road before heading outwards to the eucalyptus woodland beyond.
A quizzical look on the face of a street art character caught our eye. I imagined this depicted the feelings of disbelief many of us experienced on hearing the news trickling in that Donald Trump was, most likely, to become the next President of the United States after voting had closed.
I wondered what the world would be like, with the devastating, shock referendum vote for Brexit leading Britons towards an apparent cliff edge of no return on one side of the Atlantic and, well, words just fail me to describe the parody unfolding on the other side of the pond…
What was the world coming to? The collective marbles of the citizens of the USA and UK could be seen not only rolling away but hurtling down the hill of demise at breakneck speed.
An ecosystem of hope.
However, I digress, yet I found myself reflecting on three things I am certain of:
i) the Camino de Santiago has remained despite the rise and fall of empires and would, no doubt, survive these changes in present-day geopolitics;
ii) walking the Camino gives me hope in the resilience and optimism contained within myself and others, which enables us to adapt and even thrive in days of challenges and adversity;
ii) the wonderful, diverse collective of fellow pilgrims and global adventure travellers I have encountered on the way (both on the Camino Frances and Camino Portugues) is a powerful microcosm of the love, compassion, camaraderie and friendship that exists within the global human family.
Yep, add all three together and I conclude they make up an ‘ecosystem of hope’, something to hold on to in the coming days, weeks and months ahead when Brett and I return home. And therein lies the rub, we have both found that it can be difficult going home and resuming a so-called normal life post-Camino. There are a variety of reasons for this and I’m sure you have your own too, but I have written about this topic in my post 13 ways to beat the post-Camino blues if you are interested.
From my own experience, I can honestly reveal that I I didn’t go back to ‘normal’ life as such i.e. the life I had before I set foot from St. Jean Pied de Port on 19th September 2015 (my first Camino). I returned home a changed person and, as a result, I made some further major life changes in the following months that led me to this present moment in time…walking another Camino, this time with my husband!
Countdown in footfalls.
I surfaced from my reverie. Footfall on footfall brought me back to being fully present and aware. Brett and I walked on, through the hamlet of Pontecabras, past the Iglesia Santa de Maria de Alba and pilgrim monument, through San Caetano and into the comforting, verdant, cloak of woodland for a while.
At spots here and there along the way, our friends the Camino symbols reminded us of how close we were to Santiago this day.
Less than 50 km to go, where we crossed over the Rio Barossa and followed the trail along the Rio Chain through Tivo and eventually into Caldas de Reis.
We strolled around the town for a few minutes trying to find somewhere to stay and settled on the Albergue O Cruceiro, which was a little way out of the centre but tremendous value and we received amazing service. We were able to get a double ensuite room for 25 euros.
In the late afternoon, early evening we explored the town and popped into an old taverna by the Rio Umia for an unfortunate, mediocre meal, which was counteracted by the lively atmosphere, owing to a group of Spanish pilgrims, who celebrated their journey so far, which was lovely and heartwarming to see. It wasn’t long before Brett and I turned in.
Distance walked today = 25.01 km
Cumulative distance walked so far = 687.04 km
Peace, love and light,
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