Walking West – Sarria

Day 27 – Fillobal to Barbadelo, 16.84 miles

The Triacastela Graveyard.
This cat assumed I wanted it to hang out with me…and for the record, that is not my cigarette butt near my right foot.
Great coffee at the Commune!
I’m not a big fan of graffiti, but I low-key wish I’d done this one…

The Funk – The walk from Fillobal to Triacastela was pleasant, downhill and in the cool gray light of dawn. It all changed beyond Triacastela, though. The path seemed relentlessly steep, and it was as crowded as that first day in Saint-Jean. And for some unknown reason, I fell into a funk. Not sure if it was these ascents, the people, or just not enough coffee, but it happens every now and then. There’s nothing to do except keep walking, I did develop a couple of routines that helped mitigate the cloud.

By the time I reached Montan, the funk cloud started to break up, helped in large part by the donativo on the edge of the village. It’s similar to La Casa de los Dioses near Astorga – wide variety of food and custom-made coffee – all available for a donation, or free if you’re a jerk. A bonus at this stop was a group of young pilgrims making music in the corner. Good places/energy always help my mood.

The walk was downhill from Montan all the way to Sarria, so one of the possible funk-triggers was removed. I stopped in Pintin for more coffee and food, hopefully eliminating another possible trigger. There were still lots of people on the trail, but there was nothing I could do about that.

Sarria – The buzz among the veteran pilgrims, those starting in Saint-Jean or Pamplona, was about the crowds of people from Sarria to Santiago. Sarria is the final entry point on the Camino if you want to get a Compostela (the pilgrim certificate). As such, there are A LOT of fresh faces on the Way at Sarria. There was a subtle dread inside me as I neared the town – I wasn’t looking forward to the bed race, the long lines at the bars, and the chatty crowds. As an introvert/aspiring hermit, I do better on the sparse Meseta. Sarria lived up to its billing, it was buzzing with pilgrim activity when I arrived.

Barbadelo – I quickly moved through town, up that dreadful staircase and uphill to the road out. From there I hustled through the outskirts to my destination, very rural Barbadelo. This little town was memorable for me on the previous pilgrimage, it was where I realized a mistake I’d made, received hospitality, and was adopted into a cohort of good people. I stayed at a different albergue this time, the Albergue O Pombal on the outskirts of the village. It was remote (sigh of relief).

While hanging out at the albergue and fretting over the crowded 4-day homestretch to Santiago, I formulated a plan that would allow me to make the most of this vacation. Tomorrow, I would walk to Portomarín, catch a bus to Santiago, and then walk the lonely paths to Finisterre/Muxia. I sent a WhatsApp to my friend Anthony, the aspiring priest, to let him in on my plan. He was now several days behind and didn’t have a horse in the race, but he is a good thinker. His reply:

“What if you need to make the walk to Santiago? What if someone else needs you to make the walk to Santiago? What might you miss?”

*****, he was right…

This cover is almost as good as the original.

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