I’d set my alarm for 7.00am. but there was movement in the albergue long before then. No point resisting so might as well join in. So I was up, ready and stepping out the door at 7.00am when my alarm went off. Dawn was breaking as we left Galisteo.
Today I had the experience of walking with a companion for most of the day. An 18 year old Spaniard from Seville, Carlos, already a veteran of two short caminos (100kms) and walking this part of the Via de la Plata for the second time, started out from the same albergue at the same time as I did. We kept about the same pace, in fact he lagged behind for a while, but then caught up quickly enough, and seemed happy to keep pace with me most of the day. I think he slowed down a bit for me.
We had actually met some days before, at Casar de Caceres, where, with the bunks pushed together, we had virtually slept together (each in our own sleeping bag, of course!) without having been introduced!!! We had later exchanged greetings, names, and today enjoyed each other’s company. In the hostal tonight, we even ended up sharing a room! Economy for both of us, and nothing compared with sharing a room with 18 or 20 others!!!
At intersections and junctions, it was good to have an extra mind to interpret the signs, as well as an extra pair of eyes to look for the arrows. In that sense, the company was quite a comfort and a reassurance in finding and staying on the way. As well as a challenge and a stimulus to keep up the pace!
Another advantage of a companion is that you can take photos of each other, so that instead of just scenes, the author appears in the photo too. Here’s me in my pilgrim mode in a rural setting, cows in the field behind me.
Later we caught up with two Italians (my vintage), who were also keeping the same pace. So we kept up with them for much of the afternoon. At one stage, we were four walking in single file. But as the mid-afternoon wore on, the file stretched out quite a bit, with me in the middle, and the leaders (the Spaniard and one of the Italians) out of sight in the front, and the tail, the other Italian, out of sight behind me. I realised that we had a deadline of 4,00pm to be at the meeting point, still some 6kms away, so there was no giving in to tiredness at the end of a long day’s walk, so I powered up the mantra and forced myself to carry on.
At the end of the day, at the meeting point (more on this later), we were actually a group of nine pilgrims – one Aussie, three Spanish, and five Italians (from Sardinia, I think). But I get ahead of myself.
The first part of the morning was 11kms along the shoulder of the road (as seen in the second photo above, where you can possibly make out some pilgrims ahead on the way), reasonably flat most of the way, with some undulation. I maintained a steady pace and arrived at Carcabosa around 11.00am. We had breakfast there, cafe con leche (milk coffee) and tostada con mermalada (toasted bread roll with jam).
From Carcabosa it was a pretty steady climb upwards for the next 10kms. It was good to take scenic and photo breaks (again, a euphemism for a breather and a rest!). Once we had reached the high ground, it was another 10kms or more along fairly even terrain, through wooded fields, along a wooded path. It was quite a pleasant walk. Sometimes it was a narrow path, like the one in this photo.
The guide book had the stage ending a Oliva de Plasencia, which was a 6 km detour off the camino path (making a 29kms walk for the day) However, I happened on discussions in the albergue the previous night, which recommended an alternative. Imagine if you will, an equilateral triangle, points A, B and C. The guide book would have diverted me from the camino path at A, taken me 6 kms to B to stay overnight, then have me walk 6kms back to the camino path at C, a total detour of 12kms.
The alternative proposals was to continue on from A direct to C, which was also 6kms, so made no difference to the day’s overall total, and had the advantage that it was continuing on the camino path. At point C, a local hostal would pick up pilgrims in a vehicle and bring them to the hostal for an overnight stay (which was a further 8 kms along the camino path – a further advantage!!!), whence they could continue the camino path the next morning. Naturally, I chose this latter alternative, which a lot of other veteran camino walkers also did. So I felt quite justified.
Point C, to which I have referred, was the Arco di Caparra, the remains of an ancient Roman city, with a four-square triumphal arch.
When we four pilgrims arrived at the Arc, there was already a Spanish couple waiting there. While we were there, another three Italian pilgrims arrived. So when the bus arrived, we were nine for the hostal.
There was no Vigil Mass in Galisteo on the Saturday night. I knew I would be at a hostal, outside a town, so no possibility of attending Mass on the Sunday evening. I was very disappointed to think that I would miss Mass on a Sunday, probably for the first time in my life!!!! But then I thought, I am a ordained priest, all I need is bread and wine, which is available in Spain in plenty. So I decided that when I was at the hostal, I would get bread and wine and celebrate the Eucharist.
Then I thought, I am going to celebrate the Eucharist, there may be other pilgrims who wish to attend. So I spread the word and invited all who wished to participate in the Eucharist to come. At the hostal, one of my co-pilgrims arranged permission for us to use the dining room; the management provided a glass of red wine; they also provided some sliced bread roll, which I further broke into smaller, edible pieces. And we were all set – without vestments, chalice, paten, or any of the official liturgical requirements – a plate of bread (not unleavened), a glass of red wine (not sacramental wine). an Australian priest and about ten in the congregation, Spanish, Italian, German, Belgian. I used mostly English, but there was not much response, so, following the liturgy on my i-pad which has the option of Spanish as a second language to the English, I threw in a few parts in very unrehearsed Spanish (which I had heard when I attended Masses in parishes). So it was quite a mix, very simple, but much appreciated by the congregation. Here is a view of the bread and wine and i-pad; the couple in front are Spanish.
The Gospel of the day was very appropriate, the Emmaus story, pilgrims on the way, and Jesus joining them on the way, and recognising him in the breaking of bread. We were a group of pilgrims, we are on the way, we hope and pray that Jesus is with us, we celebrate and recognise him in the breaking of bread.
It was a good way to celebrate the day. We had walked through the shrine of nature for 29 kms; enjoying the peace and serenity; we listened to the Word of scripture; we broke bread and drank wine together in memory of Jesus Christ, crucified and risen; we are currently having a drink together, shortly will share a meal together, then will rest for whatever the day ahead holds for us.