Oviedo –> Grado –> Salas –> Tineo –> Sumblismo –> Berducedo –> Castro –> A Fonsagrada –> O Cadavo –> Lugo –> Ferreira –> Castaneda –> Amenal –> Santiago de Compostela
Dear Family and Friends,
I hope this note finds you all healthy, happy and connected to those you love and who love you!
I slept soooo well last night…finally! Oddly enough, I have only been sleeping about 4 or 5 hours a night, probably a combination of jet lag at the beginning coupled with being over-tired and excited all a the same time. In any case, I loved my sleep last night and it made all of the difference. I woke up at 7 am after getting a solid, uninterrupted eight hours sleep, and had energy to spare. It was awesome! I packed and rolled out of the albergue around 7:30 am and was greeted with a lovely sunrise as I left Berducedo:
After climbing out of town, I had some of the most beautiful vistas so far on the trip. Maybe it was the wonderful sleep that I got last night, but everything just felt brimming with life. Here are a few pictures of the sights that greeted after just a few kilometers on the trail:
About5 kilometers down the road I entered the small village of La Mesa, with its 17th cenur church in the center a fairly substantial albergue that was full from many of my companions who went passed Berducedo the previous day. After many hearty “Buenas Dias’s”, “Buonggourno’s”, and “good Morning’s” (very awkward to write but you can just imagine), we headed up a very steep climb out of town. At the top of the hill were several huge, new windmills, which had seen dotting the ridgelines all along the way in Asturias. Needless to say the hike took my breath away, as it was still pretty early in the morning’s hike and had been gentle to that point. Fortunately I had my shadow to walk with me up the hill! 🙂
After reaching the top of the ridge just below the windmills, it flattened out as it approached the day’s descent. The guidebook I have relied on my whole trip said that it was a fairly steep decline down into a lake basin called Grandas de Salim. This is a beautiful reservoir created by a dam on the River Navia. As I walked toward the ridge I was to descend, I saw a small church on the edge of the trail called the Capilla de Santa Marina de Buspol. This church dates from the 14th century and the bell that is a part of it dates back to 1327 and is one of the oldest in Asturias.
Just across from the church I saw a young couple, and it was clear that the man was in pain so I stopped and asked them if they needed help. He was Spanish and spoke fluent english (as did his partner who was from Hong Kong), and he said he was having some knee pain and was worried about the steep descent ahead. I asked him where the pain was and it was sort of on the side of his left knee. I asked him if he had any ibuprofen (I had Aleve in my pack which had saved me on this trip) and he said no. I also noticed that he was rubbing his knee directly and not his IT band which runs down the side of your thigh and actually causes the pressure or tension on your knee. I gave him some Aleve and the massage ball I had carried with me all of this way for his IT band. I then wished him well and went on. There is a saying here that “the Camino will provide.” It’s a beautifully simple yet profound statement and I have thought about that being analogous to faith. I felt like giving him these things were a small example of how the Camino provides, whether it is from fellow pilgrims, Camino angels, or others along the way, somehow it just does.
Although the guidebook made it sound like the walk to Grandas was going to to be worse than the Hospitales route, I didn’t find that to be the case at all. Maybe because it was so beautiful or maybe because it reminded me so much of walking at home in the Sierra Nevada mountains. In either case, the next segment of the walk was one of my favorites on the Camino so far. The train zigzagged down the mountainside in a pine forest and then I saw the lake…it was beautiful! Take a look:
After I finished the descent of the mountain, I walked a gory bit on the road and then crossed the lake via the dam. The walk across the bridge and up the other side offered some spectacular views of the lake and the shimmering sunlight on the water.
Whenever I see sunlight on water, I think of my mom. She passed away in a car accident when I was 19, and after I had visited the scene of the accident to gather some of her belongings, I went to the nearby river to swim (it was nearly 100 degrees that day). As I was jumping in the river, I saw the sunlight shimmering and sparkling on the waves, and I thought that was my mom telling me she was alright. I know it sounds kind of silly but it is truly what I think about every time I see those lovely sun-drenched waves. Love you, mom.
After leaving the lake it was more climbing up to the beautiful little city of Grandas de Salime. As I walked into the town, the first thing I saw was a beautiful church, the Church of San Salvador de Grandas. There was a gentleman inside changing all of the light bulbs – he was very kind to me and gave me permission to take photos…take a look:
I thoroughly enjoyed sitting and praying in this small but special church. I prayed for peace.
After Grandas I decided to play one my favorite playlists of Jim Brickman (listen to the song, If You Believe) and George Winston (Autumn) piano music as I walked the final 5 kilometers to Castro. I was reall happy and relaxed, and I had no idea how wonderful a stay awaited me…
As I walked into the small village of Castro, I was greeted b a private aubergue on the right, followed by a tiny church (dates from the 1500s) and then the small B&B I was staying in, Casa Ferreira:
The first order of business once in town was to check into Casa Ferreira…and what an *amazing* surprise! The person who greeted me was Carmen Alvarez, the great, great granddaughter of the original builder/owner of the home. Her family was four generations of blacksmiths and the original home was built in 1879. Carmen had personally overseen the remodeling of the home, between her fall to spring job as a teacher in Oviedo! The remodel was extremely tasteful and she kept the motif of a blacksmith’s home, including her great grandparents original kitchen, an old Singer sewing machine, and other heirlooms. It was absolutely lovely! Take a look:
Great grandparents original kitchen!
It was a lovely home and it was clear that Carmen cared for it and her parents who lived with her in the private side of the home. Here is Carmen receiving my gift of The Pilgrimage by Paulo Coehlo in english:
After checking into Casa Ferreira, I went over to the albergue and the one place to eat in town. Fortunately, the food was amazing and the friendship with my fellow pilgrims and the owner of the place made it even better! Here are a few photos to give you a sense of the place and more importantly the people:
Pilgrims from afar: Katherine (Australia), Sigurd (Germany) and Julie (Ireland)
Susan (Denmark) on the step stool provided to her by Javier (Spain) on the right) hanging her clothes to dry (the Camino will provide) 😉
After some food and drinks, I found out that Castro had a museum, and ancient Roman ruins, the Museo Castro and Chao Samartin. One of my friends from the Camino, Ronaldo from Brazil, and I hustled over to the place some we could see it before it closed. We got there with about 45 minutes to spare, and found our friend Markus from Switzerland, a real history buff. He had already gone through the museum, but since it was so late we had to choose between a museum tour or a tour of the ruins. We chose the latter and we were not disappointed at all! Our tour guide only spoke in Spanish, so she carried my phone and used the Speak & Translate App I mentioned earlier in the blog to give the tour. Between the S&T App and Ronaldo — who’s native language is Portugese but can speak some Spanish and very good English — we could understand what she was saying as she went through the history of the ruins.
Ronaldo and I on our way to see the ruins.
Ronaldo at the entrance to the museum
Markus, me, our guide Ingrid and Ronaldo at the wall of the ancient Roman ruins.
The ruins of the main house of the Roman family that lived here as the overseer of this part of the Roman Empire. This person reported all the way back to Rome.
One of the interesting stories she told us was that the Asturian people were never conquered by Rome. The Romans had come to Castro and the area in general to take the gold, and according to Ingrid tried to enslave the locals. The locals fought back with poisoned arrows, poisoned from the juice of a local berry. If they were about to be caught, many Asturians used the poison on themselves rather than be enslaved. This infuriated Emperor Augustus and he couldn’t believe the couldn’t be subdued. It was apparent from the passion in her and body language that there was no love lost between the Asturians and the Romans!
After the tour it was time to go back to the albergue for the main course, and I had the turkey leg in a delicious, cinnamon-laced broth with basmati rice. Simply delicious!
After this last meal, I was absolutely “shattered” (as my friends from Britain say), and it was time for sleep. Tomorrow as I walk the Camino to A Fonsagrada, I will say goodbye to Asturias (sniff!) and say hello to Galicia.
It was another wonderful day on the Camino…sleep, beauty, food, grace, friendship, a step stool…everything you need. The Camino does indeed provide everything you need.
Peace and love,