Monday, December 24, 2012

Day 51: John Adams Slept Here

Dscn3847bOctober 1: The temperatures definitely reached new lows overnight. Condensation was terrible, but by sunrise, much of it had frozen into little pellets of ice. I had thrown my tarp over me like a blanket which helped keep some of the condensation at bay, but I definitely got uncomfortably cold overnight. Not dangerously cold, but definitely uncomfortable. The milk I had purchased, however, was at a perfect temperature. =)


I lingered in camp until 10:30 in the morning to give the sun time to help dry my tarp, sleeping bag and other gear. The drying probably would have been more effective later in the afternoon rather than early in the morning, but I wasn’t in any particular rush and some of my gear was seriously wet. So I lingered, read my Kindle to kill time, and enjoyed the morning sunlight.


When I did get going, the trail descended into an active quarry—passing a sign warning people of explosives in the area. I continued through a small town near the bottom of the ravine. On the way up out of town, the trail passes by some bee hives—and really, what could go wrong with bee hives within sight of an active quarry that blows stuff up?


The views were spectacular all day long! I stopped at an overlook a few kilometers before Herrerias—where the Dragonte route merges with the main path once again—to enjoy the views and solitude for an hour or so before I rejoined the crowded trail below.


In Laguna de Castilla, I heard a woman ahead shout out, “Ryan! I thought that was you!” It was Nancy from Pennsylvania, who I met a week earlier at the hostel in Calzadilla de los Hermanillos. I hadn’t seen her since the day we left from there, but I was a little surprised that she recognized me from such a distance.


“How did you know that was me coming?” I asked out of curiosity.


Dscn3851b“You were twirling your trekking pole around. I heard you did that.”


That made me laugh. Yes, I twirled that trekking pole around a lot on this hike, though admittedly, I hadn’t done that much on the Dragonte route since that route was so steep both uphill and downhill. Along this stretch of the trail, though, I didn’t really need it for support or stability, and so when nobody was in the immediate vicinity, I took to twirling it around in the air. However, I had no idea that my little habit had become a topic of conversation on the trail! Nancy hadn’t seen my trekking pole twirl before, but had been told about it, and when she saw me walking into town, she could only see a figure twirling the trekking pole and assumed that it must have been me.


“So that’s what people talk about behind my back?” I asked, amused.


I think she worried that I took it as an insult, like it might have been a touchy subject with me, but it wasn’t. I just found it amusing. How does something like that come up in a conversation?


“Oh, hey, have you seen that Ryan while he hikes? He twirls his trekking pole in the air!”


I just couldn’t figure out how something so trivial could get worked into a normal conversation without sounding so contrived. I never really did figure out how that subject came up.


So I walked with Nancy for a bit, but she walked a lot slower than I did and eventually she fell back, not wanting to keep up with my pace.


Dscn3860bWe crossed the border into Galicia, the next state/province (I’m not really sure what there administrative areas in Spain are called). I hadn’t even realized it until another pilgrim told me that the colorful monument we passed the kilometer before marked the border into Galicia. “Oh, yes,” I replied, “I took a picture of that, but I didn’t know what it was for!”


I had heard a lot about Galicia over the miles, but the thing I heard most often was that it got a lot more rain than any other part of the trail. It was a beautiful day today, but I knew that wouldn’t last long. Nope, not long at all….


I stopped in O’cebreiro for the night, checking into a hotel. O’cebreiro was perched at the top of a long, narrow ridge with absolutely spectacular views in the ravines on both sides, but I was a little disappointed with the town when the girl at the tourist office told me that there was no wi-fi anywhere in town, nor was there even a tiny grocery store for me to restock my food supplies. There were plenty of restaurants in which to eat, and I ate a mystery dinner wrapped with bread. I still have no idea what was in it since I couldn’t understand what the bartender was telling me. I really wanted a grocery store since my supplies were getting low, but I guess it would have to wait.


John Adams, our second president, travelled along a section of the Camino de Santiago, ringing in the New Year here in O’cebreiro in 1780. You can read those details at if you’re curious–it’s fascinating stuff with one of the few American connections to the ancient trail. To make a long story short, John Adams was charged as a minister to France to negotiate a peace treaty with Great Britain and formally ending the Revolutionary War. He brought his two sons, including John Quincy Adams, age 12, who would also later became president of the United States. The boat they crossed the Atlantic in started leaking water—a lot of water—and the ship put into port in northwest Spain for repairs. Repairs were expected to take about a month, however, so John Adams decided it would be better to travel overland the rest of the way to Paris, which began his journey along the Camino de Santiago. In reverse. He didn’t start in Santiago, and he didn’t even go through Saint Jean, but he did follow a few hundred kilometers of the route I now walked, including through this small town of O’cebrerio. On the day he arrived in town, he wrote the following journal entry:


“We rode from Galliego to Sebrero, seven Leagues. Our journey was more agreable this day, than usual: the Weather was remarkably fair and dry, and the roads not so bad as We had expected. There was the grandest profusion of wild irregular Mountains I ever saw: yet laboured and cultivated to their Summits…”


That description seems like something I could have written today. Perhaps not in quite such flowery language, however. =)


Eventually, I headed off to bed where I worked on blog entries all night long (to be uploaded at a later time when I actually go a wi-fi connection) then went to sleep.


The condensation overnight froze into little pellets of ice.


I never got any blisters after that one in France, my
”butter cutter blister” never really goes away. It’s not
technically a blister—just a bunch of thick, hardened skin
with no fluid under it—but it’s an ugly thing when I walk a lot! =)
My feet are pretty tough at this point. A lot of the white stuff
on my foot is foot powder or fluffing off dead skin. =)


“Abejas” is the Spanish word for bees.


And really, what could go wrong setting up a bunch
of bee hives over an active quarry where they set off explosives? =)


I stopped here for an hour or so to admire the view before
merging again with the main path in the town just under that
giant highway bridge.


Merging back with the main path most people followed.


It’s been quite awhile since a herd of cattle drove us off the
trail. Not a lot of animals on the Meseta.


This badly graffitied monument marks the
border into Galicia, the last province of the trail.




This head in O’Cebreiro reminds me of something out of
Futurama. =) I guess they didn’t have enough money
for an entire statue.


Absolutely wonderful views from O’Cebreiro! You can still even see
that giant highway bridge far in the distance.

1 comment:

Anne Bonny said...

yBeautiful views, well not the foot one of course :)