O’Cadavo to Lugo: live, love and laugh

Oviedo –> Grado –> Salas –> Tineo –> Sumblismo –> Berducedo –> Castro –> A Fonsagrada –> O Cadavo –> Lugo –> Ferreira –> Castaneda –> Amenal –> Santiago de Compostela

***

Dear Friends and Family,

I hope this note finds you happy, healthy and surrounded by your loved ones. I am thankful that as I continue my journey to Santiago I am in good health and even better spirits. Although I absolutely loved Asturias and miss it, I decided to fully embrace Galicia, the home of Santiago de Compostela. I love the calligraphy they use on the mileage markers in Galicia:

And the history of Galicia is fascinating. Galicia’s name comes from the Celtic Gallaeci, the tribe that lived there when the region was conquered by the Roman legions around 137 BCE. In Roman and Visigothic times Galicia stretched south to the Duero River and eastward to beyond the city of León and formed part of the archdiocese of Braga (source: Encyclopedia Brittannica). The region was annexed by the Romans in the time of Caesar Augustus during the Cantabrian Wars, wars that initiated the assimilation of the Gallaeci into Latin culture. Even to this day they speak a different language, Gallego, which is a mixture of Celtic and Latin, and is one of the two official languages in the region. Gallego is spoken by approximately 2.4 million people. I intend to continue my study of this area during the rest of my journey and after I return home.

After a reasonable climb out of O’Cadavo in the morning we walked into the cute village of Vilabade, a Franciscan community since the 15th century and a major pilgrim stopping point since that time. The Gothic church in the town was lovely…called the Iglesia de Santa Maria but also known as the Catedral de Castroverde, it was built in 1457 and is considered a national monument. The church was indeed lovely, but the people were even lovelier! There was a woman in the church stamping our credencial with her stamp, and offered a selection of small Camino items for sale. She warmly welcomed me to take pictures of the church…here are a few:

The sella (stamp) of the church in Vilabade

And the man selling snacks and drinks to pilgrims was a crackup! Here he is in a couple of pictures… you get the drift: 😉

This day was starting out right…full of belly laughing on the Camino!

As we continued to walk on the (now) relatively flat road to Lugo, we bumped into some of our friends on the way, friends from the original cohort of people who left around the same time from Oviedo. Since this was going to be a long walk to Lugo — 31 km in all — we decided to take our time and stop along the way for some food and drink at a local place in Castroverde. As we gathered in a cute bar and had bocadillos and cervesa’s, more laughter ensued…

Some of the team stayed behind (battered feet needed mending), but five of us headed off to what we thought would be our last stop in Gondar (the last services available until Lugo)…

Fellow pilgrims and now friends 🙂

On our way to Gondar, we were caught by surprise by a *beautiful* little place in Soutomerille…

This place was wonderfully rustic and when I looked in I heard a chorus of “Brian!” and saw several more of my Spanish “brothers on the Camino,” resting and laughing and, of course, having a cervesa (San Miguel is especially common on the Camino):

As I looked around at this lovely, rustic place, I saw the owner and his mom, abuela in Spanish, nonna in Italian, grandmother in English. Well…abuela was really adorable and when she saw me take a picture with her son I asked her if she would like to take a picture with me and she said yes! So here are two of my favorite pictures on the Camino, mainly because of the wonderful feeling of that albergue and the people in it:

After these photos and saying goodbye to abuela, we got a quick tour of the place from her son. We were stunned! It was one of the nicest albergues on the Camino Primitivo, and I know if I ever pass this way again I will be staying here!

After we departed A Pocina de Muniz and were walking the last several kilometers to Lugo, the trail mainly wandered between broad green meadows, small forests and a handful of houses scattered here and there. Despite my feet being worn out and getting tenderer (is that a word?) by the minute, I managed to snap a few photos along the way to share with you:

After the final kilometers of rural walking and scenery came my first views of the city of Lugo:

We finally made it to the Hostal Brios, our place for the evening. Our feet were exhausted, but there was no rest…we all needed to shower, change and head out into the town of Lugo, a vibrant city teeming with life and the only city in the world where the old town is completely encircled by a Roman wall (2 km in length). A brief history on Lugo from Encyclopedia Brittanica:

Lugo originated as the Roman Lucus Augusti, and its Roman walls, which were added to UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 2000, remain a public walkway. The city was occupied by Suebi (Suevi), Moors, and Normans and was recaptured by King Alfonso III of Asturias and Leon in the 10th century.

After getting cleaned up and resting for just a few minutes, I headed back out into the city to enjoy the company of my fellow pilgrims and see some of Lugo at night. It was a wonderful night of friends, food, history and, of course, laughter. I can’t imagine a better to finish a long day on the Camino than this:

What a fantastic night! We had so much fun together, probably 15-20 of us pilgrims hanging out in ancient Roman town in northern Spain. All I can say is….FUN!

Since it was after midnight and I was pooped, I only got one glimpse of the top of the Roman wall (picture above) and decided that I would walk the entire 2 km of it in the morning. And as I walked back to my room, I reflected on the entire day, from the first step leaving O’Cadavo to the moment I headed back to my room, and the thing I remembered the most about the day was the laughter. I laughed from sunup to sundown, and at times I laughed so hard my stomach hurt! And as I continued to reflect, I realized that many times during the day I was laughing and I wasn’t sure why, because the funny comment was in Spanish or Italian or German…who knows, the joke could have been about me but it didn’t matter. It felt so good to laugh I just did! The laughter made the 31 km go down quite easily, kind of like a spoonful of sugar with medicine. I think this is the lesson of the Camino for me today. Laugh more. For as Mark Twain once said:

Humanity has unquestionably one really effective weapon — laughter. Power, money, persuasion, supplication, persecution — these can lift at a colossal humbug — push at it a little, weaken it a little, century-by-century, but only laughter can blow it to rags and atoms at a blast. Against the assault of laughter nothing can stand.” — Mark Twain

Not even exhausted legs or blisters from the Camino can withstand the assault of laughter.

Live, love and laugh. The lesson of the Camino.

Peace,

Brian

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