Triacastela to Sarria
“Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish”
The Benedictine monastery at Samos was founded in the 6th century, and dominates the landscape of this small, attractive town. The huge building sits at the side of a river, surrounded by grassy embankments filled with trees, while ducks waddle around contentedly. We took a guided tour of inside, a fascinating look at the life of a monk in the 18th and 19th centuries compared to the present day. Then, they had literally hundreds of students, set on dedicating their lives to the isolation of the monastic community. Nowadays there are two novices training to become Benedictine monks.
There was a massive fire in 1951 which destroyed a large section of the monastery, and upon its reinstatement various artists painted the corridors of the building with huge religious friezes. They are fascinating to look at, and I’m willing to bet that a lot of the benefactors who helped finance the refurbishment have their faces on the bodies of many of the bishops, knights et al who now fill the walls of the building. The same goes for their wives and loved ones, who I suspect are immortalised as nuns in some of the scenes. Just a hunch, of course. It was a very interesting tour!
There is a pre- Romanesque “cypress” chapel located at the rear of the monastery, and legend has it that if you touch the cypress tree, you will remain blister-free, presumably for life. Or at least the remainder of the Camino. Fine. You walk over 650 kilometres to get to this point, with one of us ravaged by blisters to the extent that people are writing songs about it. I spend my mornings staring at a blister (not mine, obviously) so big I’m having a conversation with it about my plans for the day; and of course it smells. What use is the poxy magical cypress tree at this stage? Or am I being unreasonable? It should really be Carolyn who’s having this rant, but honestly. I’d be more inclined to go down and throw my used Compeed plasters at it, but like I said, I haven’t had any blisters (smug alert…).
This visit took place after 9.5km of today’s journey, and for some strange reason increases the stage from 20 to 26km as the Samos route is not the standard one. This is odd, as everybody is advised to make sure they see the monastery, and it’s a really nice walk. Anyway – cypress trees aside, I’m glad we saw it. Final point on this: it receives no financial help from the Spanish government nor from the Catholic Church. Its upkeep is paid for via the admission charges, which are not excessive. This is a fascinating historical structure, containing a truly memorable church within. Why can’t the Vatican provide assistance? Oops – being childishly simplistic again……
The remainder of our journey was a very pleasant wander along undulating paths that wandered through leafy forests and past more farm roads whose powerful scents jammed the nostrils full of countryside fertiliser. There was one particularly weird moment where, as we strolled along a country lane admiring the fields to our right, we appeared to enter an invisible stink box. For about 15 metres the smell was spectacularly awful, then it just vanished, as if we had exited said box. It was all very strange.
On some of these long stretches where there seem to be no villages affording coffee stops, certain members of our tiny group (of two) often get a tad cranky, letting loose cries of “This looks like one!” followed by “No! It’s just a house! What’s it doing out here in the middle of nowhere? This is rubbish!” etc. etc. Imagine then, the excitement today when, resigned to another 4km before refreshments, we rounded a bend to see that what had at a distance looked like another farm building was, in fact, a cafe bar! With food. And coffee. And beer! (To be honest I never drink beer until we’re finished. It’s my pathetic way of justifying the subsequent cervezafest. And I made that ridiculous word up). Another – yes, that’s it – great moment in…..blah blah.
We arrived at our very nice looking hotel late this afternoon to be told that we would have to be transferred to another hotel as our room had been partially flooded due to a tap malfunction. Not good. The receptionist was very nice and gave us a free drink while we waited for our taxi. We got chatting to a Canadian woman (currently nursing a Camino injury) who told us that the chef in the hotel has a Michelin star, so once we’d got our room at the other place and had a shower, we came back and had the best menu del dia of the entire trip. It was superb! A tremendous way to round off the day, despite the accommodation hiccup.
As I type this Carolyn has gone off to meet Louise and her group, who arrived in Galicia this afternoon and are doing the final Sarria-Santiago stage of the Camino.They’ll start their journey tomorrow. Only five walking days left! I’ve doubtless said it before, but where did the time go?
Today’s album track is “Ghosts” by Horslips. Because there were plenty of them lurking in the monastery corridors today! And for all our Irish friends we’ve met on the Camino. Slainte!