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 happy, healthy and with a full heart. As I sit here with my coffee in the (very) early hours of the day preparing to write this note, I thank God (and the universe) for all of my blessings, the biggest one being the people in my life.
After a wonderful night sleep in Hotel Brios, it was time to go walk the ancient Roman wall surrounding the old town in Lugo. This wall was built between 263 and 276 AD to defend the Roman town of Lucas Augusti (present day Lugo) against local tribesmen and Germanic invaders. The impressive UNESCO-listed wall (Muralla Romana de Lugo) is up to 7 meters wide and has 85 towers and 10 gates, including the one leading out of town for the road to Ferreira. As for today’s purpose of the muralla romana? It is now a wonderful place for walkers and joggers and photos as we discovered this morning:
Pictures of, and on, the ancient Roman Wall in Lugo.
After walking the 2-km wall encircling the old town of Lugo, my friends and I explored the inner portion of the city that we didn’t reach the evening before. What a beautifully kept old town! From the two (three?) strong Romans welcoming you to their city (and the knowledge within) to the beautiful 17th and 18th century architecture and gardens, to the under-plexiglass view of the remainder of a Roman bath (piscina), the Plaza Major was fantastic. Have a look:
This morning in Lugo was really special and it was difficult to leave such a beautiful, history-rich place. However, we knew we had a fairly long walk ahead (26.2 km), and needed to get going. One of the 10 gates in the wall is called Porta Miñá or Porta do Carme, which leads toward the ancient Roman bridge over the River Miño, on our way to Santiago. Of course at the bridge we encountered a Roman guarding the way but he offered us safe passage across the bridge:
After crossing the bridge we started our relatively long trek to Ferreira. I have to say, without being negative, that this was my least favorite part of the trip thus far. The main reason being that while we were passing through some beautiful country, the Camino was almost all asphalt, with very little of the Way being on dirt trails. This was really disappointing for two reasons: one, asphalt is hot and very hard on the feet/knees, and two, we were walking by fields that very easily could have given up 10 feet of the back end of their property to create a trail at the back end of their property/meadow. This was a very difficult and tiring day, going up and down on asphalt, with very little services on the way. I think the circumstances of the day’s walk go me thinking about my Canadian friend Missy Kennedy, whom I first met on the Hospitales route over the mountain, when she was struggling to walk with bad blisters, yet never complained and just mindfully powered through it. When I asked her how she did it, here is what she said:
“…although blisters really sucked during the Camino, they were a part of my journey and reminded me why I was there. Life sometimes sucks and seems unfair but there is nothing more rewarding than finding the mind and body connection to overcome the obstacles surrounding you!”
I think Missy provided the lesson of the Camino today: she had experienced great pain and suffering with her feet, had faced significant obstacles considering how crucial healthy feet are to doing the Camino, but she persevered and, in the end, triumphed over everything she faced. While this may seem relatively minor compared to what many of us have or will face in life, it’s actually not; it is a great metaphor for life. We have all dealt with obstacles in our lives, and we have all been given the choice to either give up, or to press on and do your best to overcome these obstacles. The lesson from the Camino, illustrated so beautifully in Missy’s quote, is to somehow find the mind / body connection to overcome the obstacles, and in the end, experience the joy and satisfaction of overcoming them, or at least fail valiantly. This reminds me of my favorite quote of all time, a quote by Teddy Roosevelt in his speech, “Citizen in the Republic,” at the Sorbonne in Paris on April 23rd, 1910:
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
I love this. Unfortunately, people don’t talk like this anymore.
As we were getting closer to Ferreira and more tired by the step, we came across a veritable oasis called O Candida albergue in San Roman de Retorta, and of course it was filled with our friends relaxing, talking, eating and drinking:
Fortunately after this oasis, we only had 6.6 km left to our destination, Ferreira. And honestly, the time dragged by. Every step was a heavy one, but as the last of the sun pierced the forest…
…I came upon the lovely albergue of A Nave, my oasis for the night! I walked inside and here is what I saw:
The owners were a relatively young couple who were working hard to create a great environment for their guests. It was clear they had worked hard and looked after every detail, and as I walked down a hallway full of dream catchers I went into my room which was wonderfully clean and simple:
This was heaven to me as I showered, relaxed and waited for dinner. And the communal dinner was nothing short of AMAZING.
The meal for the evening was paella, and was prepared by the owner in an enormous pan…I have never seen anything like it. Take a look:
This was an amazing preparation and the food served was as delicious as it looked. I took this picture of the communal dinner… approximately 30 people, all from the Camino Primitivo group!
Here’s a few pics from dinner that show how much we all enjoyed the food and the company:
When dinner was over I was absolutely shattered (thanks again to my British friends for that perfectly descriptive word), and it was time for bed. All-in-all it had been a good day, starting with Lugo Romana and ending with a communal dinner with paella and friends. But I will say that the bits in the middle were pretty tough, and it took perseverance to push through it. Thank you to the Camino and my friend Missy for the lesson of the day: persevere and reap the rewards!