Monday, 15 August 2011

Hither and Yon...

That is where your blogger has been for the last three weeks. Here and there, there and back again: a wannabe Pilgrim’s Tale. Wanna be because despite all my good intentions, the walking was restricted to Santiago and the lovely seaside town of Muxia. Stick with me over the next week or so and I'll tell you why...

I drove overnight to the north along the Ruta de La Plata, the “Silver Route”. Silver because the Romans used it to transport that metal, mined in the north, to the south. Silver, iron, gold even: they are still to be found in the hills around Pontferrada but very little is mined there now.

I had intended to overnight in Merida but passed it just as I was enjoying the drive (about four hours from home in Marbella). So I carried on to Santander because I wanted to see the cathedral illuminated. Passed it, or it passed me. I was in a Zen trance by then (I’ll bet you never realised that when you are driving long distances you are in a state of hypnosis). Too late to stop and look for a hotel by now…

Zamora, Benavente, Leon, Sahagun. Finally at 3:00 in the morning, having driven 1,100 klms straight through in 12 hours, I pulled my car up beside Rebekah Scott’s front wall, let the passenger seat all the way down, put my backpack in the footwell, pulled out my sleeping bag and …….zzzzzzzzzzzz

The next day, having been duly breakfasted (and taking a short afternoon nap in the silence of The Peaceable Kingdom ,broken only by the trill of the canary), I drove Rebekah and her American friend, Kathy (who had just arrived after an exhausting trip from San Francisco) up to Cantabria.

“Doesn’t Kathy want to rest?” I asked, innocently.
Both women looked at me as if I were Raggedy Ann. O.K. Potes and Liebana, here we come.

The drive through the Picos is quite spectacular: mountain goat country and a few wolves to keep the goats on their horny toes. Vertiginous heights and babbling brooks and a few old monasteries to keep the history lover happy. (It's so deserted up there that any lovers would be happy!) Reb and Kathy were to walk back along the Camino Vadiniense, an almost lost trail named after a native people who once inhabited that area. Rebekah is writing the Pilgrim Guide for the Confraternity of St. James.

We had visited the monastery of Beatus of Liebana - who, if you read earlier posts, you will realise is a bit of an arch-enemy of mine - (from a Priscillianist point of view you understand: I am sure Beatus meant well as he tried to promote the cult of James. No doubt he was a lovely man). I had visited it once before. Rebekah and Kathy went inside to touch the fragment of the True Cross the monks claim to hold. I went outside and splashed my face in the Pagan fuente. We heretics do that sort of thing.

Then it was top of the mountain, photos taken, and off they went!
I believe the words “Lucky buggers” escaped my lips as I watched them go.
Photo by Rebekah Scott/Kathy Gower

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