19 June: Ourense to Oseira

“What shall we blog about today?” I asked the monkeys as we ate our fried eggs, cured ham, chorizo, cheese, salad and bread (salad that great-grandma went down to the garden to pick for us!)

The bread! Leaving town! The hill! The monastery!

That picture explains the hill! The first one was steep enough that we started talking about not making it to Oseira, but stopping 10km shy of it instead. However, once things evened out a bit we decided we could press on easily,  although we retracted the “easily” when the temperature rose! 12 degree start, 29 by late afternoon.

Leaving town. We should have just gone the way we knew! But we decided to do the shortcut and see something different and somehow we got lost! The general idea was simple: head for the Roman bridge, so we asked directions. Finding someone to ask was no trouble at all. It was 6:30am and the streets were humming with people who had not yet gone home from their Saturday night out. We spoke with four different groups, all of them drunk! Some sent us in completely the wrong direction, others got us back on track. Take a look at this bar and be amazed at the noise coming out of it. Half past six in the morning, remember!

After close to an hour and chats across the streets with inhibitionless youths (“Look, there are some pilgrims. Are you walking to Santiago? Where did you start? Really? No!”), we saw “the Dutch couple”, Tamara and Mr Toe Shoes. We met them for the first time outside the shell cafe – they had just been leaving. We met them later that day at a bar. A trend was emerging! Of everyone we have met on the Camino, they look like they are enjoying themselves the most! They walk a comfortable distance, stop in lots of bars, occasionally stay in private  accommodation…..today we crossed the Roman bridge with them and left them at the first bar on the other side of the river!

We still were not out of town. Just up the road we had to choose between two routes; road (shorter) or official Camino (maybe muddy but more beautiful). We tossed a coin and headed for the Camino.

 So that’s leaving town and climbing the hill covered. How about the bread?

The town of Cea is famous for its artisan wood-fired oven sourdough bread. Being fond of both baking sourdough bread and using a wood-fired oven, I had to try some. But it was Sunday. I asked at a bar and was directed to a particular bakery which we found easily. Opening the door, we saw this: 

 And this: 

No-one came when we called so we backed out and rang the doorbell. A head appeared at a second-storey window. In my most polite Spanish I asked if I could buy some bread from Cea. “No. No lo tengo. Es domingo.” (No. I don’t have any. It’s Sunday.)    Poor lady, she must get sick of peregrinos bugging her during siesta, and on a Sunday to boot. I admitted defeat and added Cea to my Mental List of Places to Return To.  

 Up the road we went and then suddenly we heard a voice. “I found it! I got a loaf of bread. It’s solid,” Sophie, the Irish archaeologist, observed as she banged it against a wall. Just like our bread we make at home! We went and bought ourselves a loaf. Bagged and numbered, it’s the real deal. Breakfast sorted….and possibly lunch as well;-) Micki lugged it the final 10km to the monastery, and I refrained from telling him two other pilgrims bought loaves here in the village where we ended our walk!

The monastery. Initially it seemed deliciously cool. After three minutes it was perishingly cold. Just what you’d expect. It’s been this way for a thousand years! We went to vespers and will attend early morning mass with the Cistercian monks. Eight of them in this enormous outfit. I don’t know why a couple of hundred refugees couldn’t be given a home here. They could do the gardens, look after the cows, make other products to add to the monk-made honey, cheese, chocolate and alcohol that are for sale. This place is begging for more life.

Distance: 34.6km Total Distance: 875km


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