Discalced Carmelite Friars

Province of St. Therese

Camino de Santiago - page 9

A Pilgrim's Progress: Fr. Stephen Sanchez, OCD, on the Camino de Santiago – 2018 - page 9

Aug 1st

We didn't sleep very much last night because of a group that came in from a late celebration and it took them a while to settle-in. As I said it was a very strange open space concept so that at 1am it was a veritable symphony of snoring! I told Ron - "You know in the old western movies when they show a huge herd of cattle and they are all bellowing at different times? - that was last night" there was deep bellowing and lighter baritone contributions with Altos being peppered in as well. Then all of a sudden at 2 am - there was total silence!! Strange!!

I took in the silence and fell asleep.

We got up at 6am and started getting ready for another long day - 25kms to Sarria. We had some instant coffee and took some hard boiled eggs for the journey that Ron prepared the night before and headed out.

As we got ready to exit the town we had to decide which route to take the shorter one or the longer one through Samos to see the Benedictine monastery that was founded in the VI century and is still active. We obviously chose the longer route. A very beautiful walk through the countryside and through some tiny hamlets made up of a few buildings. Lots of going up and down hills, and through shady woods.

We stopped at a small gathering of buildings that would almost qualify as an almost hamlet. Remember the serrano ham and cheese sandwich Deacon Ron got us in Astorga - I still had it in my backpack. While we were sitting in the shade going through our backpacks a German woman - Suzana - walked-by and we invited her to share the shady stoop with us. I pulled the sandwich out and handed it to Deacon Peter to portion-out. Suzana declined, and so we divided an 8-inch sandwich among us, sipped on water and then Ron pulled out the dark chocolate bar he bought in Astorga and gave us each a piece. A Galician cat came by looking for scraps but there was none to be had. We gathered our packs and moved on and wished SuzanA well on her journey.

After walking 9kms we got to Samos, we could see it from a distance and we rejoiced! We stopped at the first café we came upon and had a coffee and croissant then walked over to the monastery. As we got there a woman said that she was going to start a tour (in Spanish) in a few minutes - it would take 40 minutes. We wanted to avoid the heat of the day during the walk, and the tour would delay our walk and put is in a hotter part of the day, BUT we opted for the tour. HUGE monastery and only about 10 - 12 monks plus a novice. They don't have an Abbot but only a Prior.

The chapel is dedicated to St. Julian and this monastery was favored by Spanish kings, especially Alfonso II. We toured the cloistered gardens, the guest wing and the church.

We ended in the gift shop and were attended by the novice who is from Puerto Rico.

We left satisfied with our choice but now had to continue our trek to Sarria for another 12.5 kms. By the time we could see Sarria our feet hurt so bad that our joy was a little constrained. Earlier I had strained my right Achilles tendon on some loose rocks but the major discomfort was the balls of my feet from all of the downhill climbing we had to go through.

Right outside of Sarria we found some picnic benches in the shade with a water spigot for pilgrims - we sat and absorbed it for several minutes before going into the city. We thanked God and St. James for bringing us safely to this days destination.

Shortly after entering the city we found our albergue - Oasis. First thing: Showers and laundry. You may laugh at us but we thought the shower was a thing of beauty! A true blessing from the Lord. It was very untypical of albergue showers! It was a spacious room and spacious shower! You had enough room to actually shower without banging your elbows; the water pressure was amazing, you didn't have to try to shower under a dribble, the water stayed on!!! Most places you have to push a knob and the water sprays for a while before turning off; the shower maintained its temperature, most showers we've had we've had to deal with freezing and scalding water while trying to shower! It was a most welcome consolation at the end of a long day!

Laundry was not such a consolation - a small cross for us. The washing machine was tiny - think of a Barbie playhouse washing machine (does Barbie do laundry?). We had two days laundry to do at 4 Euros a shot. Then the dryer wouldn't dry the clothes - all this and trying to get out in time for mass. A test? A purification? Finally we headed out for the 7:30 pm mass at St. Macrina's church. The albergue hostess said it was a ten-minute walk. Not even an Olympic speed walker could have gotten there in ten minutes! At one point we were confronted with steps that went up at least three stories. Really Lord? (I know my suffering is nothing compared to yours but my Acilles tendon and the balls of my feet are REALLY tender!) BUT that was the way we had to go to get to mass. We got there just as they were singing the Alleluia! After mass we recieved a blessing for pilgrims. We headed back to the albergue and I said to the deacons, "Clearly the albergue hostess doesn't attend this church - because that is not a ten-minute walk!'

We decided to have dinner so we picked a cafe for dinner then headed home. Another consolation our Lord blessed us with - probably because of my complaining - was that we had the room to ourselves. A five bunkbed room just for us!!!

We started to settle-in for the night for a short day the following day - an either 13 or 17km day - it's going to be in the 90's for the next several days! So we have to pace ourselves and try to avoid the more popular stops so that we have more silence.

117kms left to go to Santiago!!

We offer this day with all of its imperfections to the Lord.

On the way to Samos
On the way to Samos
Trail marker - 133kms to Santiago
133kms to Santiago
Forest flower - Foxglove
Forest flower - Foxglove
Vigo do Real
Vigo do Real
View of monastery from the trail
View of monastery from the trail
Benedictine monastery - Main chapel
Benedictine monastery - Main chapel
Door frame from VI century
Door frame from VI century
Cloister garden
Cloister garden
Gran claustro
Gran claustro
Murals in guest wing
Murals in guest wing
St. Benedict and St. Scholastica mural
St. Benedict and St. Scholastica mural
Alfonso II
Alfonso II
Retablo - San Julian
Retablo - San Julian
St. Joseph - Samos
St. Joseph - Samos
Christ in side chapel - Samos
Christ in side chapel - Samos
Between Samos and Sarria
Between Samos and Sarria
Retablo Santa Marina - Sarria
Retablo Santa Marina - Sarria
3-story stairs
3-story stairs

Aug 2nd

Leaving Sarria - Since today was going to be a short walk - 17kms - we left around 7am to look for a place to have breakfast. Of course we had to climb those 3-story stairs - little did I realize that they were the prophetic statement for the day's hike and the next day's hike as well. More on that later.

Since leaving Triacastelo we've seen an increase in the number of pilgrims. Many begin in Triacastelo and more begin in Sarria. You have to walk at least 100kms for the 'Campostela' certificate.

We found lots of pilgrims on the road early that day. We did find some cafes along the Camino route through the town of Sarria but we wanted to get out of Sarria before stopping - we thought there would be a place 3kms out...then we started to climb...we went 3kms but we didn't see or find anything. We kept climbing up and down a few more kms until we found a roadside café where we had 'cafe con leche', croissants, and split a tortilla 3-ways - no coffee until after 9am is just inhumane. There should be some 'society for the prevention on walking before coffee'.

We continued walking...and praying...and walking...and praying...up and down and through the countryside. We stopped and rested under the shade of a fig tree while we recalculated our bearings. It turned out that the village where we were going to stay - Mercadiero - was about a 10-minute walk down the Camino road we were on.

We got to the albergue and registered - 15 Euros each - so far the most expensive. It's a beautiful setting and has a nice restaurant attached to it. We registered at the bar and the bartender/waiter showed us the facilities and gave us the house rules then showed us our room. A spacious room with 4 sets of bunkbeds - the 'prize' beds are the lower ones - especially for us 'older' pilgrims. We followed our usual ritual - shower, laundry, nap.

We had another 'community meeting' to recalculate and decide on the next day's hike. Deacon Ron and I spoke to the bartender/waiter/register-er of pilgrims about breakfast the following morning. Breakfast was at 7:30 am - that was not going to work for us since we were planning on leaving at 6am.

We went back to our room and there were more people in the room. By the late afternoon the room was full as well as the other rooms. Don't know how many in total but we all had to share two bathroom/showers - one for the women and one for the men.

We met a young South Korean man (mid-20's) named Uhn who has been walking for a month - 30kms/day. He is in- between jobs.

We went to dinner at the restaurant, the sun was beating down on the patio - it was in the 90's! - We decided to eat inside - it was cooler. We ate off of the Pilgrim menu. 1st course - Gazpacho, served in a juice glass, 2nd course - Empanada de carne (slice of meat pie), 3rd course - bacalao (cod), small serving of cod stew.

During dinner we chatted with a group of pilgrims at the near table - a Polish woman and three young Danish women. An older lady (Kodie) walked in and asked if she could take the empty place-setting at our table. She is from Norway and has been traveling for some time as well.

After dinner we went up to bed down. The bedroom was full and with the setting sun bearing down on it, it was stifling to say the least. The three of us had decided to sleep in our walking clothes so as to get out early. That is we thought we were going to sleep.

The room was so stifling I doubt anyone slept. I asked the Lord to accept this small discomfort while I could still muster the intention. I said my prayers and braised in muggy stifling heat all night.

In search of Mercadoiro
In search of Mercadoiro
Mercadoiro
Mercadoiro
Mercadorio restaurant
Mercadoiro restaurant
Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Mercadoiro
Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Mercadoiro