Yesterday we surmounted the highest point on our journey. Today it is all downhill, a leisurely 21-kilometre hike to the modest village of Triacastella. Here, it is all about the scenery. Rolling clouds lap distant hills carpeted with the rusty hues of late fall. The air is cool and moist. Damp forests close in around us, then suddenly open to reveal gently undulating mountain vistas.
The next day takes us a further 19 kilometres to Sarria. Again, it is the scenery that commands our attention. The hills are less pronounced here and the human settlements more frequent. Wayside chapels dot the forested path. Occasionally a village pops up through the trees. There are small farming communities with solid stone houses and barns, all constructed without masonry. We share our path with cattle, carefully weaving our way down streets layered with manure.
Sarria plays a significant role for the contemporary pilgrim. This is the last place before Santiago that pilgrims with limited time can start the Camino if they wish to collect a compostela – a certificate indicating completion of the journey – at the end of their walk.
For Gail and me, Sarria is a waymarker our twenty-eighth day of walking on the Camino Francés. It tells us there are no more than five days until we reach Santiago de Compostela. The end is so near, so tangible. Yet Gail and I are living in the here and now. Our legs and bodies no longer protest the long days or heavy packs. And we walk as if we will be walking for the rest of our lives.
This is the eighteenth of a number of planned posts to my on-going Walking the Camino de Santiago, A Photo Essay. If you have any observations or your own Camino experiences to relate, feel free to use the Comments section below.
If you are interested in purchasing prints for any of the photographs in this series of Camino de Santiago blog posts, they can be ordered directly from my website at www.firmangallery.com/camino-frances