Our day nine on the Camino Primitivo was a long-anticipated walk into the historic, medieval town of Lugo, Spain. Here we were to indulge in what the city had to offer, and to take a well-deserved day off. We were to also learn how the Camino de Santiago tears down borders, both in humans and the animal kingdom, and makes us closer to one world.
"Some outer, credible purpose usually motivates my journey, but inside I am waiting for that moment when the ground shifts - when humor or sadness or a shared recognition makes the distance between "my" world and "the" world beyond my borders vanish, at least for a moment." ~ From "Digging In" Elias Amidon, a short story from the book, "Dirt, A Love Story" edited by Barbara Richardson
While the walk on day nine was longer than most of the prior stages, this one didn't feel as hard. This is because the exertion level was less due to very little hill climbing required, as you can see in the map below. I did have a problem keeping hydrated, as along with the lower elevation, the heat of the day was much higher.
As I listened to my voice journal from this ninth stage, I was much less negative than day eight! It was almost a totally enjoyable day!
By day eight, we were beginning to be known as the "high end" pilgrims. We got this moniker because we would stay in hotels about half the time instead of albergues. We thought this was rather amusing, as we thought we were traveling on quite a budget.
With two of us, the savings in an albergue was less significant, and for a few euros more I could have the comfort of a good night's sleep. This was important for me, as my coughing kept others awake, and kept me awake for fear that I would keep others awake!
Despite choosing to stay in the comfortable Hotel Moneda the prior night, I did not sleep that well, due to my coughing. By day nine on my Camino Primitivo, I had now resigned myself to the fact that I was going to have my virus the entire time on the Camino. And this also I included in the Camino experience - and this was my Camino.
Here is the map of the ninth stage which we followed entirely as shown below.
We left at 07:30, which was early compared to the other pilgrims staying in O Cadavo that night. It was another misty morning, and all was extremely quiet when we left our hotel. The café bar at the Hotel Moneda was open at 07:00 which was wonderful, to start off with the usual cafe con leche and tostada. We pulled out some of the cold cuts that we had bought the night before, to add a bit of protein and sustenance to our breakfast.
The first few kilometers gently climbed after town, and afforded nice early morning views of the surrounding countryside.
The initial part of day nine on the Camino Primitivo is on nice country lanes, a topographic feature that was always welcomed! The lanes lead into and out of the woods.
The forest lane eventually leads into this gravel road, just before Vilabade, towards the Ermita de la Virgen del Carmen on day nine of the Camino Primitivo.
The Ermita, below, was a Franciscan community for pilgrims in the 13th-17th centuries. The 13th century Church of Santa Maria was restored in the 17th century and is now a national artistic monument. (Gothic with a Baroque retablo dominated by impressive Santiago Matamoros -according the the Combined Guide). However, we were not able to see inside.
In front of the church is a nice picnic area, if you need a break when you go by.
The gravel road soon lends to pavement and walks the pilgrimage traveler towards Vilabade.
The parish church in the center of town is sizable for such a small town. It was a nice stop for pilgrims, with tables of information, and a very friendly hostess to help out if needed. We arrived here at 09:00 and were pleasantly surprised to find it open!
You can also get a sello (stamp) here for your pilgrim's passport.
The altar is quite nice, with the "Matamoros" or St. James depicted as the Moorslayer, always on horseback, crowning the altar.
After spending some minutes here, sitting, meditating and sending prayers of gratitude for my journey and my experiences thus far, we continued on through town. The road becomes the LU-P-1206 towards the next town of Castroverde.
A Camino kitty drew my attention to her, in the photo below, as she warmed in the sunshine of the day, sitting atop this little structure framed by flowers. I "noticed" the kitty, or did she draw my attention to her? Interesting change in frame of reference, isn't it, if you think about it!
According to Priscilla Stuckey, contemplative author of Kissed by a Fox, animals send intentions to we humans to draw our attention to them! Indeed, we both love to bask in the sun!
After leaving Vilabade, the LU-P-1206 eventually joins the LU-530 in Castroverde, walks a very short way before turning left on this shortcut, to skirt the town to the south.
Castroverde is truly the last chance for obtaining food prior to Lugo, so check your supplies to ensure you have sufficient. There are vending machines along the way - keep reading so you will know where to find them. This will help you plan your day. I would have loved to have this information before I walked this day!
The Way is entirely rural in the next 20 kilometers with no real towns to speak of. This is truly amazing when you consider that you are walking towards a major city in Galicia.
On day nine of the Camino Primitivo, it walks through alleys in Castroverde, and it turns here in a section that walks through town.
Immediately after walking through town this picnic area and fuente appear. If the timing is right, and you brought food, this is a lovely spot to take a break. We kept going as it was only 09:30 when we passed.
Past the fountain, this tractor track lane takes you on the remaining shortcut through the south side of town.
The shady diversion was a welcome relief to walking through the pavement of a town. The day was already quite hot by 09:30.
When the tractor track brings you out to the LU-530, the Original Way crosses the highway and turns right on a side road on the west side of town, were the Camino goes back on country lanes.
Then, nice country roads and lanes leads the pilgrim all the way to Souto de Torres, a small hamlet. You will know you are there when the lane brings you past this lovely country church.
There is a nice open area at the crossroads ahead, which has an inviting bench to sit and gaze at the cruceiro and parish church for awhile. We arrived here just after 10:00 on day nine of our Camino Primitivo, so we lingered only a short while.
By the next hamlet of Nadela, barely seen on most maps, Magdalena, a Camino family member had caught up to us. Rich and she walked ahead, as he loved to chat whenever he could. I felt more like walking in silence, again today. My constitution, with my cold virus still didn't put me in the mood for much socializing.
In Nadela, another animal drew my attention to him. This silent dog, below, that I saw watching me as I instinctively turned my head to the right after passing his house, was gazing contemplatively at me.
Most likely he spent his days here watching over the pilgrims as they passed. He didn't bark or move a muscle - just gazed. I can still feel the feeling of being drawn to this creature, even as I write today!
I was happy for his watchfulness, and wished I could go pet him or give him a treat! I silently thanked him instead.
By the time we reached Vilar de Cas, at 11:00 and after 15 kilometers on the Camino, we were ready for a longer break.
Fortunately, we had arrived at the first vending area here in Vilar de Cas. You have to look closely to find this small building housing the vending machines, shown below. There is a sign on the pole to the right of it, facing backwards in the photo below, that says "Café y bebidas frias aqui." (Coffee and cold beverages here). If you miss the sign, you may miss the vending machines.
You will be coming from the background of the photo, to the foreground, and the vending area will be on your right as you pass. You won't see the little house until you are past it and you look back. Here are our Camino family friends, enjoying the snacks by the vending machine little house, just after we left.
These vending machines were really quite fabulous. We had café con leche and cookies. The coffee really wasn't bad at all. We were very grateful, indeed, for them on day nine of our Camino Primitivo.
It was here that I gave a fellow pilgrim some of my Halls throat lozenges, because she thought she might have been getting a cold too. Argh! I hope I didn't give it to her! It was an extremely hot day, so maybe she only had a dry throat from dehydration.
Plus she had blisters because she was forced to wear socks that hadn't dried out the night before. She had lost her second pair. Blisters and wet socks - what a horrible combination. I had one extra pair of socks, so I gave a pair to her. What goes round comes round.
As we were sitting enjoying the rest stop, we looked up to see sheep coming toward us at the vending machine stop. I was actually sitting on the bench by the machines, when the sheep in the photo below, approached.
I was so lucky to have the sheep draw my attention to them at this perfect location! Coincidence?? Was I becoming more one with the animals?
I laughed when I realized the coming set-up for the photo below, well before I shot it! I was able to prepare for the photo, with plenty of time to spare. How lucky I was to be sitting at precisely the right bench to get this photo. Or was it luck?
After Vilar de Cas, the Original Way joins the LU-P-2917 to walk to the next hamlet of Santa María de Gondar.
When walking through Santa María de Gondar, we came to the second set of vending machines.(I am not 100% sure these are in Gondar, as I failed to record this information in my notes. If anyone reading this can verify, please comment to me below! They are definitely located after Vilar de Cas, but my information and the information in the Combined Guide differ).
There is actually quite a nice selection of food and beverages here! I was grateful for the towns that supplied these machines and rest areas, even if they could not supply a full café bar! They probably have grown weary of rescuing hungry and thirsty pilgrims!
If you notice there are microwaves to the left in the photo, and there is a sink to the left of the microwaves, (not shown), and very nice, new tables and chairs. I wish we knew this one was here, as it was much more accommodating than the one in Vilar.
You will not miss these vending machines, as they are in an open-air shelter that is very apparent on your left as you walk by.
On day nine, the Camino Primitivo stays on the LU-P-2917 to walk towards Bascuas.
The LU-P-2917 eventually leads once again to the familiar LU-530 near Carretera and walks towards Carbadillo for about two kilometers. Here is this stretch of road. Not great, but no hills and a bit of shade along the way.
After Carbadillo, The Way turns right, into a tree-lined side road, a welcome afternoon solace from the hot sun.
We decided to stop here for lunch, around 1:00 p.m. and eat from the ample supply of food we had been carrying in our packs. Whenever possible, we also took a foot break, as you can see. Airing out your feet is essential, in my opinion, to prevent the formation of blisters. Especially on this hot day nine of the Camino Primitivo!
Can you see the hiking poles just beyond Rich? This is exactly where he left them as we walked on after lunch! He discovered his mistake about a half a kilometer down the road.
I waited here in the shade, below, while he went back to retrieve his poles! I took the opportunity to photograph these glorious sunflowers.
The day turned very hot and dry for the remaining 10 kilometers into Lugo. I was carrying a hydration pack and even though I was drinking as I walked, I still felt like I could not get enough.
This unshaded stretch of the road seemed particularly hot and dry, despite this unusual fence that broke up the monotony.
As we approached the hamlet of A Viña, we were only about 5 kilometers from Lugo.
I was intrigued by the feeling of seclusion of the walls in the photos to follow. If I didn't know it, I would never have guessed that we were approaching a very large city! The Original Way planners did a great job for the day nine part of the Camino Primitivo!
My excitement was growing at this waymark which shows 106 kilometers. I knew that Lugo is often the starting point for those only interested in going the final 100 kilometers to Santiago de Compostela. We were not far now. It seemed truly doable from here!
You can easily see why the Romans built their fortifications on this site. It is on a hill, and very defensible, with rivers and streams on its borders. So the Way, of course, descends first before entering the old city on day nine of the Camino Primitivo.
After descending to a creek, at the bridge, the Way walks uphill, and up a steep set of stairs, leading you to this tunnel.
After the tunnel, as we walked up this ramp, the fortifications loomed above. (Sorry for this lousy photo - I was shooting into the sun. It is the only one I have of the first, impressive views of the wall).
What a feeling of euphoria, to walk into the old city, through this gate, the Porta de San Pedro ou Toledana!
I was hot, thirsty and sweaty, but happy to be finally here! We arrived around 3:00 p.m., a full 7.5 or so hours on the Camino.
My euphoria soon vanished when loud, thumping music was soon heard inside the gate. We peeked into a side area to see a restaurant with some guy grooving to a karaoke song! It was only 3:00 p.m.!
Just as we turned about face to continue walking toward our hotel, we ran into Igor and a new-found friend (to the right in the photo - sorry, I can't remember her name!). We greeted one another with joy, they grabbed us and we headed back to the same loud restaurant for tapas and beer.
I later realized that the loud attention-grabbing music did precisely its job, attracting weary pilgrims in the afternoon of their day nine on the Camino Primitivo! Ha ha ha!
I had to be careful to re-hydrate and drank two large bottles of cold water too! With my hunger and thirst quelled, I was becoming a happy pilgrimage traveler once again!
Soon in walked Matias! It was a sweet celebration for the end of a very long day's walk in the heat, and the beginning of a long rest period! Salud!
After our celebrations we picked ourselves up and went to our hotel, the Hotel España, right outside the medieval walls, on the south side of town, just steps from the Catedral de Santa María de Lugo. We would be here for a glorious two nights. To see our tour of Lugo, click here, as we walked the Roman walls, went to the cathedral and other sites.)
The evening of day nine on the Camino Primitivo, our Camino family all gathered in the main town square (Praza Maior) and enjoyed dinner together at one of the outdoor restaurants that have tables lining the square.
Tonight was to be Igor's final night on the Camino. His personal Camino ended here as he was leaving to go back to work. He was our Spanish ambassador. It was he
who would ensure that we all were cared for, that we understood and loved his
country. It was us, who were receptive to his guidance, whether as a language
interpreter, a food explainer, or a friendly Spaniard who was always positive,
smiling and walking faster than most of us!
Igor would herd us together like sheep, and tell us information about Spain and it's culture that we would have surely missed had it not been for his guidance. He was there to ensure that all of us had the information that we needed. He was a prime example of Spanish hospitality.
Igor definitely assisted in the vanishing of the borders between all the countries that were represented in our Camino family. As my husband is skilled in bringing people together with his incredible social skills, so was Igor able to further this process to tear down borders, so that we were all one world - Americans, Austrians, Irish, Swiss, German and Spanish.
Here is his heart-felt farewell speech at our family gathering for dinner in Lugo. It is so poignant! Thank-you Igor!
Day nine on my Camino Primitivo was certainly about uniting with all beings that I encountered. On this very special day, yes, I was able to notice a shift.
I noticed and communed with the animals. As for the humans, our shared pilgrimage goal united us in nationality, yes perhaps, from similar European cultures, yet it felt not so similar many times.
"My" world became "Our World" as we shared the comunitas about which Sheryl A. Kujawa-Holbrook speaks so fondly, regarding pilgrimages. I got it. We all got it that night. We were united.
Perhaps, our family on the Original Way was, as a whole, younger and/or more physically active than other pilgrims on the other Caminos, which helped to unite us. I do not know. I do know that this Camino Primitivo definitely attracts athletic and/or determined people who are up for the challenge of the grueling climbs and descents of the first 200 kilometers. The sustained effort is the challenge for this Camino.
Here, in Lugo, we were to rest tomorrow and stay another night. I deserved it and had so been looking forward to it.
However, it was cloaked in sadness as well. This perhaps, was our final get-together as this particular Camino Family. Most likely, everything was about to change in our final 100 kilometers to Santiago de Compostela.
I was happy that most of the physical effort on this Camino was now behind us. Lugo is symbolic in that way. Not only do you have most of the kilometers completed, but you have most of the physical effort completed.
But I was ready for what was to come. I was grateful for the comunitas I had with these people for the first 200 kilometers. I knew that we would be OK, and that more wonderful experiences lay ahead. And I did, indeed, as it turned out, make lifelong friends!
May you also find the spirit of community as you form your own Camino families on your own day nine of the Camino Primitivo! May you always know that "Nunca caminarás solo!" (You'll never walk alone!) May we all unite as one world!
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