Sunday, July 19, 2015

Campiello - Berducedo

Camino Primitivo / Camino Finisterre day 8.
Distance: 28.0km (159.4km), time spent: 9:14 (50:52).
Weather: Cloudy, then very nice before it clouded over again in the evening.


It is an excited pilgrim that is waking up in the morning, to a sky that slowly are filling up with clouds. Herminia serves a just as big breakfast as dinner, so much bread (dosed with their share of olive oil) and small cakes you could want, with jam. In addition to the largest café con leche that is being served on the Camino. I am late on my way, first around half past eight, after I found out that my camelbak was leaking and the lower part of my backpack was wet as a result.

View back from the hill above Borres. Campiello is in the middle of the picture to the left. Still a lot of clouds in the sky.

I am not quite in the mood in the beginning, even though it is a pleasant walk. There is only a short stretch that goes on a road, before the Camino is entering more pleasant gravel roads. In the horizon, I can see clouds rolling over the mountains and I can envision that the whole of the walk over the Hospitales route is disappearing into them. I walk a little bit irritated that I did not choose to go yesterday.

A waymarkerstone with a view, on my way up into the mountains on the Hospitals route. The clouds are on the retreat and blue sky is beginning to dominate.

However, my annoyance soon turns to great joy, for it was about to become a fantastic day and walk. When I begin the ascent up into the mountains on the Hospitales route the weather is starting to lift, and the further up I get, the more blue sky I get. After La Mortera, the Hospitales route goes over a verdant mountain passing three ancient pilgrims hostels, so-called hospitales, hence the name of the route. The view from the path is marvellous.

It is after Borres that you have to choose between the Hospitales route or go by Pola de Allande. The Pola de Allande variant is also supposed to be nice, but it is longer and a far cry from the Hospitales and there is a very steep climb up to where the paths are joining again. The albergue in Borres is nicely situated, but is looking quite worn, which is the reason I chose to stay behind in Campiello and not go here. I also had heard rumours that it was quite dusty and dirty there. The little bar in Borres is open and looks nice, where I to my joy get the same sello as Valery got yesterday (small pilgrims, big joys).

The Hospitales route, from here the route goes over an emerald mountain. In the pass with the light green colour lies the first old pilgrim hospital you come to, La Parodiella.

Just before La Mortera, while I am walking and alternately is glad and a little bit grumpy, I have my most absurd meeting on the Camino. An elderly man comes walking and starts talking to me. I understand very little of what he says to me, but I understand enough that he is asking me to sit down a little and take off my backpack. Whereupon he continues to talk to me, and I politely tries to answers as good as I can (which is not very much). I think it is about the weather, food and my heavy backpack (it is not that heavy).

It is when he begins to ask me about girls that the conversation is taking an unexpected turn. For in the next question it seems that he is wondering if I am often masturbating when I am on the Camino. 'Did he just ask me about what I thought he did' I think. Which he did, he makes a masturbation gesture and then points to the nearest tree. A lot of pilgrims goes out into the bushes and masturbates, he says. Then he wonders if I also would like to do that. It is ok to do that. I quickly makes up an excuse (which is hardly an excuse actually), picks up my backpack and say goodbye to the man.

Valery and Marine at the La Parodiella hospital. The Camino continues on the path going steep upwards in the background.

The whole episode is so absurd that I shortly after could not help myself and starts laughing; at least it got me in a better mood. Which is getting even better on the way up into the mountains. The walk up goes on a nice gravel track and the view is getting better and better the further up I get. It is a stunning walk over the mountain (which must be repeated), and I share the experience at the moment with Jeroen, Marine and Valery. The Camino is winding itself up and down verdant mountain ranges with extensive horizons and deep valley floors next to it.

A cow with a great view behind it comes wandering and then stops wondering when it catches sight of me, Valery and Marine that are sitting and eating beneath a tree. After a while it continues, following the yellow arrows, a cow on a cowmino.

The three old pilgrims' hospitals from the middle age that you are passing are La Parodiella, Fanfaron and Valparaiso. Of those, it is Fanfaron that is in the best shape, here more of the stone buildings are still intact and you can sit inside of them (lots of sheep dung though). You can only imagine how it must have been for the pilgrims of that time to be up in the mountains in bad weather, sitting huddled together inside a very sparse cabin. There were no gore-tex or other equipment the modern pilgrims wear at that time. There is also the thought of why the route went across the mountains and not in the valleys below, it could be that it was less safe travelling on the those roads. I eat lunch at Valparaiso and I have carried a beer with me for the occasion.

The Fanfaron hospital with Cima Pico in the background. This hospital was the one that had withstood the sands of time the best. You can only imagine how it must have staying the night here thousand years ago.

Three times I had to leave the trail and climb up to peaks of more or less size nearby the path. Whereas the last excursion was the peak above Fanfaron, Cima Pico at 1292m, the view is magnificent. A panorama in 360 degrees and the sight of the Camino winding itself further towards Puerto del Palo. I can see the stone fences that encircles Fanfaron. A small sign announces that I am standing at the Cima Pico hospital, a stonewall goes around the summit.

Inside one of the buildings at Fanfaron, far away from the standard todays pilgrims are used to, it was probably a little bit more furniture inside in its heyday.

After Valparaiso, the route continues past Alto de La Morta, which does give some associations to how hard it could be crossing over here. At Puerto del Palo the route from Pola de Allande joins the Camino again. A worn cabane that you can use as a shelter in bad weather marks the beginning of a steep and painful descent. After the climb down you pass through a tiny place looking almost like it is abandoned, Montefurado. The small hamlet consists of charming small houses of stone; there is also a small chapel here, which is the remains of an old pilgrims' hospital. My second beer that I brought along, a cerveza con limon, is consumed between the buildings worn by time.

View from Cima Pico. Below you can see the Fanfaron hospital with the stone fence going around it.

With the Hospitales route behind me, the route goes over a less spectacular area, but still nice, where I for a while walks together with Robin. A young Frenchman that is sleeping in his tent on the Camino, I saw him for the first time while I was sitting in the main square in Grado while waiting for the photo store to open (he does long days). We are both a little bit discontent that the bar in Lago is closed (Sunday). The last part of the walk is more anonymous, but when I arrive in Berducedo I am greeted with cheering and clapping from the large group of pilgrims at the local bar there (Casa Marques).

Puerto del Palo. The routes over the Hospitales and Pola de Allande are joining again and continues together (fortunately, not on the road, even though it might have been easier walking on the road than on the Camino). A cabane is at the pass and can be used as a shelter in bad weather, but it was much worn inside of it.

I had booked a bed in one of the two albergues here, Albergue Camin Antiguo, of the sole reason that there are not that many beds available combined in the two albergues and that I wanted to walk this exceptional route leisurely. And a good thing it was too, a little bit later two very tired women are coming and looks appalled when they hear that it is complete (on both of the albergues). Though I finds the price quite stiff, 15 euro, there is nothing about the albergue that makes it more worth than the other private albergues I have been to.

Montefurado. Walking through this tiny hamlet is like a walk back in time. I wonder how life must be here. You would not be alone here though, pilgrims are passing by daily. In winter however?

The evening in Berducedo is ok enough. It seems that the people are tired after the walk over the mountain, and after the initial large gathering most of them has retired to their albergues to rest. I eat dinner together with Douglas, Olivier, Isabelle, Valery, Jeroen and Marine. Everybody is really satisfied with the day. This stage is probably one of the most beautiful walks on any of the Caminos.

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