I again woke early and set off while it was still dark. Breakfast was a banana and a few pieces of left over ham. The climb out of the Lourenza was steep, a portent of what will follow throughout today. As the sun rose, I found myself walking above the cloud. I was on a narrow mountain path and below me the valley was shrouded in mist. There were some fantastic spiders webs along the way. And lots of mushrooms.
At just after 9.30 I arrived in the beautiful little Galician city of Mondonedo. It was market day, and there were stalls set out in front of the fabulous 13th century cathedral.
I had a coffee in the square. The Cathedral opened at ten, so I went in and said my prayers. There was a peaceful, prayer filled simplicity and austerity to the place, one of those churches where – for me- it is easier to pray. After twenty minutes a tour party arrived to break the stillness, but it was time for me to set off anyway. A truly lovely cathedral in a lovely little city.
The walk from Mondonedo up into the mountains and heading south was utterly beautiful.
Today has been one of those days when it is simply fantastic to be alive. The sky was a brilliant blue. I was surrounded by birdsong. The walking was hard, but after nearly three weeks of walking I am the fittest I have been for at least thirty years, and with my feet so much better than they were, the kilometres slipped by.
At one point, breathing in the fantastic view and feeling the heat of the sun, I simply had to share it with someone, so ‘phoned home and just told Rebecca how very good it was to be alive. I know it is a terrible old cliche, but life really is a gift to be enjoyed, not a problem to be solved. And even though I have discovered on this pilgrimage that it is still possible to be driven while you are walking, that is I can still very easily let the targets of where I am going to stop for lunch and where I am heading for in the evening, control the day, today it really was different. It was simply a day to enjoy the glorious giftedness of life, and to dwell in each passing moment as the theophany it is.
Nevertheless, the walking was still hard. After lunch there was a steep, steep climb and I arrived at Gontan mid afternoon. A cold beer and snooze on my bunk at the Albergue helped.
Today is Michaelmass, but sadly no mass at the parish church in this little town. Dinner was another surprise as I waited to see what the little bar/cafe in town came up with: a delicious Scotch broth type soup, followed by egg and chips. Plenty of angels doing their stuff today.