Day 26 - To O'Cebreiro

June 22, 2014 - Distance Traveled: 30.1 km -

Today began with the threat of the rain. You could read the signs in the reflection of the streetlights glistening off the wet cobblestone streets. Thankfully, we they began to walk, we soon realized that the clouds were dissipating. It was not long before we were walking under a blue sky dotted with white billowy clouds. It was almost as if an artist had painted them.

Since it was Sunday, and I would not be in church today, this would be my place of worship. As I walked I spent time thanking God for all He has done in my life. I thanked him for both the good and the hard things. I thanked him for how he has used both to shape me, and I affirmed that I will continue to trust He will redeem all things.

I also asked God for His Grace.. Today would be one of the hardest of the Camino.

At about 9 kilometers in, we stopped for cafe con leche. Many of the normal people we see each day were there. Father Stephen and his group, the Irish family, who often walks with them and the couple from Arizona, Jay and Debbie, that we met in Terradillos. All of them said they were going to stop short, and finish the climb to the top tomorrow. This is the last big clime of the Camino and the three of us are determined to make it all the way to the top today. It is O'Cebreiro, or bust for us.

I would be lying if I did not tell you the climb was steep, hot, and hard. At one point pilgrims on horseback passed us. I both hated and envied them at the same time. We stuck together through the most difficult sections, encouraging one another as we went, and ensuring that none of us gave up, which honestly was never a concern with these two ladies. They are trooper.

Along the way, we crossed into Galicia.

When we arrived in O'Cebreiro, seeing the gorgeous view and beautiful village, we knew we made the right choice. Add to this beauty the knowledge there would not be another climb like, and it made it all worthwhile. With only seven stages left to go, it feels like you can see the end of the Camino from here.

We high fived one another, feeling pretty good about what we had accomplished, and found the albergue.

After the sweat was washed off, and our cloths were hung out to dry, we headed out to explore the village. As we were leaving our home for the night, we came across some of the people who had been keeping pace with us. They were collapsed in on a grassy knoll outside the door and had just been given the disappointing news that the albergue was full. They would be forced to keep walking. The next town only had 20 beds at its one albergue, and was 6 km away. This reality left them with questions about whether they would even be able to stop there. Given how tired they looked, I felt for them. I don't know about the ladies, but I don't think I have another 6 km in me today.

O’Cebreiro, is a stone village set on a ridge. Many, like our friends, stop at a village short of the summit to avoid the strong winds, and the chill that can accompany them in the evenings. We had decided to take our chances on the weather in order to experience a night in this village, which made us feel as if we had walked back in time.

It was so beautiful when we arrived, there was just the right amount of clouds in the sky to make for a spectacular sunset. We planned on getting cheeses, bread, a bottle of vino tinto and celebrate the day's walk with a picnic at a vantage point where we could take it all in.

By the time dinner rolled around, however, so had the clouds, wind and rain. Watching the sunset would have to wait for another day. We were eating indoors tonight. But it could have been much worse, we could have been walking to the next village.

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