Cea to Castro Dozon

I awoke to the sound of rain! However, it cleared away soon after. But the sky remained cloudy and overcast all day. It threatened more rain, and such was the forecast. It did rain later, but spots only, not enough to be much hassle, but just enough to make me put on the wet weather gear, more as a precaution against a sudden downpour than a necessity, and also as a windbreak against the chill which pervaded when the sun doesn’t shine.

An easy day today, only 16.2kms. My other two pilgrim companions with whom I have been socialising, Michael and Denis, took the longer route to Castro Dozon via Oseira to visit the famous Cistercian Monastery there. I decided, in accord with their recommendation, to take the shorter, direct route and miss Oseira. My and their main consideration was to give my sore leg as much chance to rest and heal as possible. The Cistercian Monastery at Oseira involved a longer path and more time. Regretfully, I decided to omit it and keep on the direct path to Santiago. My companions were to join me at the end of the day’s walk in Castro Dozon. We plan to continue from there to Santiago over the next three days.

Since I was on a shorter distance today, I did not join the general stir around 6.00am. I waited a while, said farewell to the others, completed my packing, had breakfast in the bar in town, and was on my way out of Cea at 8.15am. As usual, I spent the morning walking on my own. Here’s a view of the scene at the edge of the town as I set out. A German woman pilgrim with a red backpack can be seen on the left-hand verge of the road quite some distance in front of me. I did not see her again.


As I walked, I thought that if I really wanted to see the Cistercian Monastery at Oseira, I could catch a taxi there and then walk from there to Castro Dozon. But I decided to stick with the integrity of my direct walk to Castro Dozon. It might have been different had I intended to stay overnight at the Monastery. If I had wanted to do that, I could have continued on the day before, but the extra 10kms would have made that previous day an impossibly long walk with my sore leg. Also, staying overnight in Oseira would make the subsequent day’s walk also impossibly long.

I also reflected that I could walk to Castro Dozon and then get a taxi to and from Oseira for a short visit. Just as I was giving positive consideration to this thought, I felt a twinge in my leg. I took this as a sign, and decided to stick with the plan. Santiago was and is my priority. It is still nearly 70kms away. It will be three solid days of walking. For that, I need my legs to be walking well. And to achieve that, the best is as much rest as possible i.e. short walk today, good rest in the afternoon, in preparation for the days to come.

I am very happy with the decision. Life is like that. You can’t do everything. One has to make choices, and to choose one thing is to choose not to do another. I have missed visiting the Monastery at Oseira, but I have made my choice in accord with my priority in getting to Santiago.

If you haven’t seen the Monastery in the past, or don’t plan to see it in the future, like me, you will just have to be content with a virtual visit on the internet.

For website see: http://www.mosteirodeoseira.org

For more images see: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Mosteiro_de_Santa_Mar%C3%ADa_de_Oseira

The camino way today was the usual mix of edge of the tarmac road, dirt road, dirt track, rocky path. I passed through several small villages, had some good stretches in the countryside, including some sharpish upward climbs up ridges and down into valleys. At one stage, near a town, the path led through grass so tall that it was difficult to see the actual path.


There were some of my favourite tree-shaded lanes, the mulched leaves underfoot soft to walk on.


There were a few steepish climbs on various surfaces, including this rocky path.


And of course, after climbing up, one must climb down!


Over the past few weeks I have noticed that in quite a few villages, besides the water fountain supplying drinking water, there is also a stone/board/sink/trough for washing clothes.


Note that here there is a sign saying that the water is not guaranteed safe for drinking!

I presume the washing facilities are no longer used for this purpose, though a stone, ceramic or stainless steel washing basin and board is often available in albergues for pilgrims to wash their clothes. I presume that most homes now have washing machines and clothes dryers. Even some albergues have coin-operated washing machines and clothes dryers (though I have never used them, but done my washing by hand and relied on the sun for drying [which may be a problem here in rainy Galicia!]). I presume that in ages past, the women of the village would gather at the washing pool to do their laundry and exchange gossip. I can’t imagine any men in that era joining them in the domestic task.

At one place I passed a tree stump. The tree had been cut down. I was surprised how clear the rings are. Each ring represents a year. So you can count the age of the tree that was cut down.


I don’t know what makes the rings so distinct. I would have assumed it was weather patterns or availability of moisture, but I would not have thought these were so distinct here as to create such vivid rings.

I had started out in the morning wearing my rain-proof jacket, more against the chill than against the rain which actually held off. I had been surprised how damp the top of my backpack had become in the very slight drizzle during the 5-minute walk from the albergue to the bar, so I had also unzipped and pulled the rain-proof cover over my backpack. But around midday there were a few more spots of rain, so, again more as a precaution against a sudden downpour than an absolute necessity, I stopped and pulled on my rain-proof plastic overpants as well. So I was fully protected against the wet weather. It didn’t eventuate, but I was glad to be protected all the same. Here’s what I looked like on arrival at Castro Dozon:


Here’s what the cover over the backpack looks like:


As mentioned above, I passed through several villages:

Cotelas at 8.45am, having covered 2km in half an hour;
Pinor at 9.15am, having covered 2km in half an hour;
Arenteiro at 9.45am, having covered 1.5km in half an hour;
Ponte at 10.00am, having covered 1km in 15 minutes;
Carballeda at 10.30am, having covered 1.5km in half an hour.

According to the guide book, the last stretch from Carballeda to Castro Dozon was only 4kms, which should have taken me an hour. But it took me the best part of nearly two and three quarter hours, so must have been much farther, I would guess at least 8kms. Even the map, which I have discovered is not always proportionate in the distances it shows, indicates that the distance is about half of the total walk for the day.

Whatever the particular distances between towns, according to the map the total of the day’s walk was 16.2kms. I completed this in five hours. Allowing time for a break, for taking photos, for getting into the wet weather gear, this means that I have been travelling at a bit less than the regulation 4kms per hour (which is the actual rate for the villages mentioned above). The point is that although my leg is still a bit sore, it was much free-er in movement today. I was nearly able to achieve regulation pace. And it was a good work-out too, with some steep climbs upwards, some sharpish descents, a variety of surfaces, some long stretches on flattish dirt roads. So it seems that the rest and remedies are doing the required healing on my leg (or else the pain-killers have kicked in very effectively!?). I am very pleased, as that augurs well for the coming days.

We plan to do about 27km tomorrow and 21km the day after, leaving us about 20km to bring us into Santiago on Friday.

When I arrived at the albergue in Castro Dozon there was only one pilgrim there, a French woman. She was complaining that it was cold, there were no cooking facilities. Shortly after a Spanish pilgrim came in. He went off to have a shower, came back and started packing again, saying there was no hot water! He left to continue walking on to another town 10kms away where there was a hotel. My companions showed up about then, having visited Oseira. They were content to stay. Shortly afterwards a visiting guest master showed up, advertising his own place in one of the further towns. Another Frenchman arrived, and he and the other Frenchwoman took a lift from the visitor to a further town. So it seems there will be very few in the albergue here tonight.

P.S. The visiting hospitalero (guest master) from the next town showed us that there was hot water in the shower/bath/toilet for people with disabilities, so I was able to have a hot shower after all!

As I was coming into Castro Dozon, I had climbed to a hill overlooking the town. Here’s a view of what lies ahead in the coming day.




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