OK, let’s gets the tough bit out of the way first as that is what I had to do. Yes I am talking about the hill out of Ourense. To get there we had to walk about 4km though the outskirts of Ourense. We picked up a young Spanish guy (Señor Draughtsman) who was beginning the walk to Santiago today. He was getting really frustrated as he couldn’t find the yellow arrows guiding you out of town. Val got her wish of wanting to walk with a solo Spanish speaker. So of we went, the three amigos up the hill.
As you will recall, I have already declared my dislike of hills. Val told me this one she found hard and that is saying something given her solar charged OP hat. She said it was hard last time she walked it (did the Vie de la Plata in 2013) because it was totally unexpected and just goes on and on and on. Yep, she’s right. The major difference between this one and the last I wrote about, is this one is on a sealed road so it somewhat easier compared with the rocky shale a few days ago. So Val’s solar charged hat turned on and up she went. But Señor Draughtsman has an updated Rip curl cap version which is turbo charged. Me, I don’t wear a hat, so you guessed it, I was bringing up the rear. It was long, it seemed steeper in parts. It was narrow with cars taking up a lot of the room even though it was a two way road. A car coming was a good excuse to step off the road and catch my breath. And I needed to – my breathing sounded like a category 5 cyclone to my ears. My calves and quads were quite unhappy about the task they had been set. But bestari bestari (Nepali for slowly, slowly) I made it to the top and was even able to run a few metres to prove to my waiting dos amigos that I was fine. Unlike them, I didn’t need a rest at the top and was able to keep going straight on. The truth be known, they were only stopping to wait for me but Val had downed nearly a full can of coke. And thanks to the heavens for small mercies, she was very sweaty and still puffing a little. This whole episode with the hill was very interesting as it had been hanging over my head yesterday. My doubting mind was convinced I couldn’t do it. I realised that unless I changed my thinking, that hill would have me beaten before I even attempted it. Doubt is a powerful thing. So it fear of failure. Change mental view and things can become possible. And yes it was uncomfortable physically also going up, but at the end of the day it’s only sensation. Everything changes and doesn’t last. Buddhist Philosphy 101 lesson over now.
Now if you look between the trees you will just be able to make out Ourense along way below us.
Hill conquered, it was time to find Cesar’s place. Val had fond memories of this place from her last Camino. She said that he was in a most unassuming place and much like a spider coming out to grab pereginos as they came past into his web where you were offered drinks and food. Alas it wasn’t where she thought it was. Oh well, never mind. That nice drink wasn’t to be. But there was hope. Sometimes things just appear when you don’t expect them to.
Cesar was no where to be seen when we arrived as he was busy entertaining 6 French walkers. He didn’t need to pull people off the street. All his attention was on these people and we had to wait. Once he was free, Val told him she had stopped there before resulting in her being greeted like a long lost friend. He was shown the photos on her last visit and then he was desparate to find a visual or written record of her visit. Whilst we having our drinks (Val’s coffee and morning fresh cow juice straight from the cow) and eating French toast, he frantically thumbed through is old visitors books. Thank goodness Val signed it as he was looking quite stressed with a furrowed brow until he found what he was looking for. Finally he could sit down, relax and have something to eat. He liked having Senor Draughtsman (he’s the one in the turbo charged Ripcurl cap turned backwards) to talk with and they shared some local wine (at 10am).
Cesar has set himself up as quite a fascinating little ‘industry’ that he is clearly very proud of which is probably on the way to becoming an institution on the Vie de la Plata. He provides food and drink officially at no cost but you are expected to leave a donation in a milk jug for his hospitality – he never sees how much you pay. After having eaten, every visitor has to have a photo taken with him. These are then displayed on an LCD picture frame or up on photo boards upstairs. Val was required to go inspect the photo board to find a shot of her from two years ago. Nothing there but interestingly enough there was a photo of A. from Brisbane with whom she completed the walk two years ago. Once you have signed the visitor book and had your Compestella stamped (Camino passport which you present in Santiago to get formal recognition of your pilgrimage and apparently gives you an express pass at the pearly gates upstairs), you are free to pass on your way having been wished Buen Camino. I would advise anyone passing through from Ourense to stop and have morning tea with Cesar. You might even be joined by his wistful father-in-law.
Tummies full and feeling refreshed, onwards we went. The route was well marked and lead us through lovely ferny oak woods. It wasn’t hard to imagine where stories of pixies and fairies come from given they have mostly originated in Europe.
After 20ish km, we wondered into the town of Cea. Quaint warning! Yes another quaint village. The fascinating thing about these villages is the building are a mixture of old and new. Old traditonal farm buildings where the animals are kept below and people live on top. And the right next door there are far more modern buildings.
But let me tell you about the cats. He with the twisted tail wanted her and she was letting him now in no uncertain terms she was not interested. But he was torn. A pat from me or follow her. What to do. Follow the girl of course when you are a tom cat.
And so ends another day. But this one ends in comparitive luxury at Casa Manoso, a small private hotel. Behind the lavender lined fence lies a place fit for a king and where a tired pelegrina can put her feet up for the day.