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Camino Portugues de la Via de la Plata: along the way

lovingkindness

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
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Camino Portugues de la Via de la Plata: Zamora via Braganca to Ourense.

Buenos dias, amigos. For the past 6 days I have been hiking along the Camino Portugues de la Via de la Plata and have just arrived in the alluring city of Braganca. Most nights I have been sleeping out under the stars in the company of bugs, snakes and lizards, discovering the perplexities and joys of life as a camping peregrina. On a whim and very little cash I set off from Zamora one evening, relying solely on yellow flechas, a regional map and booklet* from the tourist office.

Day One: 03/07/2010

I had little difficulty with route finding from Zamora to La Hiniesta. The Camino began with a pretty walk alongside a park then ran parallel to a cycle path through lush vegetation. 2-3 kms of road walking followed from just beyond Valderrey to La Hiniesta. Wild flowers had woven their way amidst desiccating wheat fields and giant thistles were in spectacular bloom. I arrived in La Hiniesta just as the bells peeled out for evening Mass and older village ladies had begun to gather. Golindrinas swooped and dived about my head as I stood entranced, tracing figures and admiring carved outlines on the tympanum and entrance way of the Iglesia de Santa Maria de La Hiniesta. With light fading I set of in the haze, the air redolent with the scent of aromatic oils and resins released by the scorching sun on leaves and earth. At 9 pm I pitched my tent an hour´s distance after La Hiniesta, behind a wall of felled pine and pungent scrub, excited and little scared with what the night might bring.


*Zamora Tourist Office: advice, a simple tourist map and a basic Guia del peregrino de la Vie de la Plata published by the Junta de Castilla y Leon. This booklet contains bare facts on distances between Spanish villages along the way and services provided but not for those villages in Portugal. It includes historical data but provides no route finding. (In March, 2010 I used another section of this booklet to walk from Astorga down to Fuenterroble de Salvatierre, via Zamora and Salamanca. I found it adequate).

Cheers, Lovingkindness
 
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lovingkindness

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
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Day Two: 04/07/2010 beyond La Hiniesta to Campillo

A lovely day! Surprised by beauty, exhausted by heat. At 5 am, awake before the birds I dressed in the light of my sporty lamp then, as it was still dark outside went straight back to sleep. Soon the sound of wind brought visions of rain and before long I was up and out, packing in a frenzy and striding out. My goal for the day: to find a shower, wash my clothes, set up camp early then chill out.

Signing from La Hiniesta until just before Valdeperdices was adequate. New granite plinths have been erected to mark the way but at the crucial point, where one should turn right, no direction was given and I found myself continuing ahead to a country road, adding kilometers to my day. I then looped back to the village. It was Sunday morning and the world was asleep, only the insects and dogs greeted me in the dawn. At the next village, Almendra Del Pan I found a fountain and washed my clothes. Unfortunately the faucet became stuck and with it my tranquility disappeared. Images flashed of animals dying from thirst, skeletons bone dry in the dust, a whole village flaked out, comatose without drink... then suddenly, thankfully a local passed by and shouted out, ´tranquillo´. He knew about this tap and he´d see to it. Passing through Almendra del Pan the Church bells began to peel a Whole-tone apart and the bell ringer with manic drive janked and battered the bells with all his might, creating a ferocious disonant, demented twang. I laughed and laughed because for sure his head must have been resonating for hours after this assualt.

The Camino in this region passes through a lake district, the Embalse de Ricobayo and the scenery from Almendra del Pan to Ceadea is superb. According to the barmaid in at Campillo there are often weekend peregrinos passing by, even in January. They walk from Zamora for 2 days then head back home. She also mentioned an Australian peregrino who had walked 5 times to Santiago D.C. Nobody had been through recently, though. After visiting the Visigothic church in Campillo, the Iglesia de San Pedro de la Nave, I continued beyond the Bar Rodeo for twenty minutes then pitched camp at the lake´s edge. For hours I lay sprawled by the water´s edge, in the shade of a skinny tree, eating melted chocolate and listening to the sound of goat bells, cicadas and slapping water, cooling off by standing neck-deep in cold water. So, my prayers were answered and my day became a perfect idyll.

Cheers, Lovingkindness.
 
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peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Hi, Lovingkindness,

Thanks so much for posting these reports. I look forward to reading more! Sounds like this variant is only for the more intrepid members of this forum, and you are certainly one of those. Standing neck-deep in cooling water sounds like quite a nice way to end a brutally hot day, though.

When I walked from San Pedro "backwards" to Zamora, I met a man in Valdeperdices who indicated there was some sort of albergue underway there, but I didn't see any evidence of it.

Buen camino, Laurie
 

eze

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Francès 2005/2006
Norte 2007
Plata 2008
Eze (home) Roma
Mozarabe April 2014 (Granada-Cordoba) March 2016 (Córdoba-Merida)
Camino Gironès September 2014 (La Jonquera-Vic)
Hello,

We shall re start from Zamora during the last week of September 2010 to reach Santiago for the third time. We also will pass through Portugal but, in Vinhais, will walk north to A Gudina.
We do hope that you will arrive in good condition.
We also hope that you will, soon, find a computer in order to provide us with additional information regarding this Camino.

Merci )
 
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lovingkindness

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
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Day Three: 05/07/2010 Campillo to beyond Ricobayo de Alba
On ascending the dirt road above the Embalse, heading out for only a few minutes with my soul full of the colours of dawn and consoled by moving tides of water, a dusty beat-up car pulled over and a couple of locals jumped out, frantic and gesticulating. They insisted that I was going in the wrong direction and that I retrace my steps back to the church in Campillo. Apparently I was going in the wrong direction and if I continued would never in a life time make it to Muelas del Pan let alone Santiago. I retraced my steps and 20 minutes later arrived back at the Iglesia de San Pedro. Sure enough, on the reverse side of each power pole leading down to the village there could be found a yellow arrow. The bar was closed, people were sleeping, and the only water fountain that I could find had slashed across it in violent red ´aqua no portable´. So, I left the pueblo with only a litre of water, unperturbed because Muelas del Pan, according to my booklet was less than 10 kms away, about 1 1/2 hours. Signing out of the pueblo was easy to follow and before long I was ascending a gravel road, wowed by spectacular views of inlets and coves, green vegetation and azure water. Before I knew it I was back in that other world, the dream space of happy peregrinas, chasing emotions and imaginations, lulled by the rhythmic pace of my own feet....until...hey! How did I find myself here? The road had swung in a loop, and at the top of a long rise on a prominent rock, there, in the rising heat and scorching rays, was an arrow pointing me back to where I had just come. Confusion. So I headed left and not long later, an hour after setting out, I was back at the village, sweating and in despair, convinced I´d never escape Campillo. By now several ladies were up and out. So we chatted a while, and whilst I was not able to obtain coffee or anything to eat, they did lead me back to water -the very fountain I´d passed by earlier, the one sloshed in red paint. Apparently only the trough water was undrinkable. A tiny faucet on the side of the tank gave good water and the village people were already gathering to collect it.

Heading off for the third time this day, past the stone plinth and yellow markers, I retraced my steps up and beyond to the beautiful vista and there on my left, painted at an obscure angle and not visible in the early light, were faded flaked-off arrows indicating a descent right...........I did eventually make it to Muelas del Pan but hours later because, not long after this turn, once again I hared off in the wrong direction. Reverse arrows guided me back after and endless time and I finally climbed in the blistering heat up, out and over to the scrub land and rocks beyond.

At the ayuntamiento in Muelas del Pan I was unable to acquire a sello; computers had been installed for internet access but as yet were not functioning. The local grocer kindly gave me vegetables when I purchased supplies, and then it was time to head off to the pub, for cafe con leche and tapas and a chance to boot up my depleted camera battery. Locals suggested that I walk another 3 kms and swim at the Playo, a lake side recreation spot by the village of Ricobayo de Alba. And this I did, awed by the impressive bridge spanning the Embalse as I crossed the dam to the next village. Three hours later, after a siesta and much swimming, fed by gitanos in exchange for a song I headed off in search of a good camping spot.

Day Four: 06/07/2010 after Ricobayo de Alba to somewhere before Alcanices
There are two possibilities when hiking from Ricobayo de Alba to Ceadea. One is scenic in view of the Embalse, passing through Villaflor to Castillo de Alba, the other follows droving caminos and tracks through fields from the pueblo of Cerezal de Aliste. The tourist officer in Zamora and others had recommended I take the Villaflor route and that was my intention. However, signing after Ricobayo de Alba, whilst beginning with a stone plinth, gave no indication of a choice and by the time I camped out last night I had no idea which village I was heading for. For hours, the yellow arrows had ceased and I found myself following green and white balises. When a yellow arrow eventually did appear the junctions which followed gave no indication of whether to turn left or right. I chose left a couple of times and after a very long, exhausting ascent finally found an obscured, faded arrow. Here I pitched my tent on stones and thorns, content that, at least for now, I was somewhere.

All night the wind blew and by morning I was wearing my merino hoodie. It turned out, after another hour´s pretty walk, that I was not on the scenic route to Villaflor after all. In the early dawn yellow arrows appeared and stone plinths to Cerezal de Aliste were found toppled. Plastic ribbons had been tied to trees and I was accompanied by a legion of midges, flies and biters. The trail beyond Cerezal was lovely, indeed, reminiscent of the English Downs, but the longer I walked the less I noticed because by that time I was starving, hanging out for a coffee, craving plates of donuts and madelenas and cookies. Bermillo de Alba drifted by, and then I was at Fonfria, a happy, friendly place with all facilities open. Filling my sombrero with cool, cool water, I immersed my frying head in all it´s chilling glory, jolting alive as riverlets coursed down my spine. Water, water, water, water....I ate as much food as my stomach could handle in the heat, purchased enough to get me through the evening and next day, collected a sello from the cheerful secretary in the ayuntamiento then climbed back up to the drover´s camino.

Hour after hour I followed this parching camino, past expansive views to the right, by giant rock formations, through endless fields of wheat and occassional shade. Fornillos de Aliste never appeared as expected but Ceadea certainly did and finally the pueblo of Arcillera was in sight. There is a lovely shaded area with rose bushes and plane trees in front of the little church so I stopped a while then headed off. A farming lady chatted with me and gave advice: after the stand of pine trees I was to turn sharp left, then up and over the motorway to Vivinera. As i left the village, there on the ground a stack of carved granite camino plinths lay waiting for placement. Uncertain after the stand of pines where exactly I was supposeed to turn left, in the end I kept going straight ahead, thinking that I had seen yellow paint on an old fence post. An hour later I gave up. I camped in a grove of crimson foxgloves amidst misty fairy-lightgrasses and rustling weat and all night I heard the cackle of nesting birds and felt the movement of something live beneath my ground sheet.

Day Five: 07/07/2010 beyond Arcillera to Trabazos
A new day. Clear skies. Hopefully a better frame of mind and please, please, please somwhere to wash my hair and my clothes. I stink. Last night something made it´s home under my tent and I went to sleep with visions of snakes, lizards and mice. Grasshoppers bounced across the synthetic material overhead and I could see the outline of something live within inches of my face.

a camping peregrina´s dilemmas:

*how to wash in one capful of water
*how to remove spec 50 sunscreen without peeling the skin of one´s face, without resorting to carbolic soap or paint stripper.
*if I leave my stinking boots and pack outside the tent will someone out there, something from the misty craven beyond run off with my gear?

At every turn today when I needed help there was someone there to guide me. Walking in the cool hours of dawn I set off, continuing down the dirt track, the early sun silver on wheat and birds calling. I could see a sizeable village to my left by the motorway and, thinking that it was Vivinera, I eventually turned right, expecting to arrive at Alcanices 2-3 kms later. But over the rise, instead of Alcanices stretching out before me was an unpeopled expanse. I must have missed the arrows yesterday evening after Arcillera and walked much farther than thought. Not to worry. I turned arround, found the turnoff point again and there, thankfully was an elderly gent out for his early morning stroll. The village in the distance turned out to be Alcanices, not Vivinera and it was only another 2 kms by road.

The last of the summer flowers still adorn the roads and caminos and all day I gathered huge bunches lavender, lilac daisies and yellow St John´s flowers, giving them to the first person I encountered in each village, striking up interesting conversations along the way, drinking cups of coffee and amusing myself as best I could in the overpowering heat. In Trabazos someone suggested I rest a while in their albergue, a large room with hot shower, kitchenette, refrigeration unit and TV. Heaven! I intended staying only till 6 pm but once I had showered, washed clothes and rested up I couldn´t see the point in continuing. The kind hospitalero had pumped up an air bed for me, had shown me how to operate the coffee maker and even ran home to fetch milk. He turned on the bottle cooler to reduce the temperature in the room, then left me to it. God Bless Trabazos. When I offered a donation he declined it, saying everything was free. So I ran about later cleaning everything in sight, to say thank you. What immense generosity and kindness the people of Spain, the people in villages like Trabazos are demonstrating to the world.

Day Six: 08/07/2010 Trabazos to Braganca
My intention as I set out this morning was to hike over the border to Portugal and camp out 10 to 15 kms after Quintanila. I hoped to acquire a map and Camino booklet from the first Portuguese Ayuntamiento or tourist office along the way, but this wasn´t to be.

Leaving Trabazos my tourist booklet suggested that San Martin de Pederoso was a mere 5 kms away. I expected to be there within an hour but found myself lead along caminos, across country and eventually down to a new motorway. It took me at least two hours. At one point, yellow arrows on a concrete drain pointed me off the dirt camino down through waist-high grass and along various water ruts. The grass was without impression from previous peregrinos. I could hear the motorway in the distance and see a farm track far ahead. So, heading off I trusted that traversing this farming land was indeed what I was supposed to do and after a while, underneath the weaving grass I detected old truck marks and followed these until I reached the motorway. Then I followed the motorway signs all the way to San Martin and over the border bridge. No sello was available from the border police on the other side, in fact I didn´t acquire one until fourteen hours later, when I arrived soaked to the skin and shaking with fatique at the Braganca Albergue Jovenes.

Just beyond the border bridge the path leads down to a beautiful river with rock pools surrounded by reeds and water plants and tall trees. The river has been dammed to calm the flow and at a waterfall men and boys were catching langostinis/crawlies in buckets. It was only 10 am and sweltering hot so I ditched most of my clothing and sank gratefully into the water. Hundreds of little fish kissed me all over and I floated until all the heat frizzled out of my head.

There is an albergue in the next village, Quintanila and how I wish, in retrospect, that I had had the sense to make it´s use. Not knowing what was ahead, and still not having a Portuguese Camino guide I thought that sleeping out was my only option. It seemed too early in the day to stop at Quintanila, even though it was a delightful place. Colourful flowers adorn the houses, old Compostella symbols are engraved above doorways, and I could have had another swim in a huge trough under the local fountain -well, that´s what the old men suggested I do, but instead I blindly stuck my head under the tap, drenched my clothing and once again headed off into the furnace.

Surprised to discover several more villages along this route, I planned on sleeping after Palacios. After a siesta and several hours walking along overgrown riverside trails I wondered into Palacios. Several beautiful elderly ladies and a man were sitting beneath a large tree peeling vegetables and chatting. The old man raced off and came back with an apple and an orange which he kindly gave to me. So in exchange for a song, I happily ate his offering. Apparently all the young people have left Palacios for the cities and they and a few others are all that remain.

Setting off again, a violent electric storm suddenly brewed and within minutes I was being pelted furiously from above. To pitch a tent in this weather was impossible so, walking as fast as I could, ploughing through torrents, I tried to gain refuge in Gimonde but found none. In the end I dragged my aching, weary self, my now blistered feet all the way to Braganca in the hope that there I would find somewhere to sleep.

I hope never to do this kind of walking again. 14 hours in the heat then fighting off rain is just too much. Had I the energy, I would have wept. Not knowing where to find shelter in Braganca I limped beyond the Castle down to the old square. There, inside a church I approached a group of serious men and one of them, amazingly, offered to drive me to the local Albergue Jovenes. And that´s where I have been holed up, too exhausted for the past two days to do much more that tap out emails and read a novel.
 
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lovingkindness

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
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Days 7 & 8 Braganca 9-10/07/2010
Braganca: heat bouncing off pristine walls--azure ceramics--purple fig skins bursting, sweet, trickling---enervation.
I visited the tourist office and aquired maps and pamphlet for the Camino through Portugal to Ourense. There are many villages along this route but few shops or bars. I will need to camp out most nights and stock up on supplies. In Braganca the tourist officer refers peregrinos to the Santa Casada Misericorda, other people suggested I try the local Seminary, too, but having already set up house in the Albergue Jovenes I didn´t have the energy to relocate.

*Albergue Jovenes 11 euros (10% discount for peregrinos, breakfast included). Washing machine and drier 2.50 euros. A short walk from the town centre. Free internet access in the Biblioteca.

Day 9 Braganca to Vinhais 11/07/2010
Braganca to Vinhais is essentially a grand, 26 kilometer village hop, one per hour, an easy way to pass a day, signing adequate. A day of gindas, wild honeysuckle, and stuperfying heat, of sour cherries on wayside trees. I hoped to camp out by the river before Vila Verde but this lovely spot was crowded with caravans and beer-guzzling weekenders so after a dip and siesta I ploughed on to Vinhais thinking I might find refuge with the local bombeiros (volunteer firefighters). It was Sunday and, thankfully, both the tourist office and a supermercado were still open (c. 6 pm). The tourist officer kindly called the bombeiros and they suggested I camp in the grounds of the Seminary, next door to their station and this I did under the broad leafy boughs of ancient trees. Directly opposite is Bar Bondi, open from 5 am every morning so I went to sleep cheerful, dreaming of caffeine, of civilised bathing in clean servicios, of flowered feilds and ancient ruins and clothes that are always clean.

*In Vinhais there is a fountain & lavandaria in the side street opposite the tourist office.
 
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skilsaw

Veteran Member
Lovingkindness, you really are a pioneer. I had an inkling of that when you walked the VdlP in October, November, starting in Cadiz. Now you are on another adventure! Thanks for sharing it with us.

And you are truly on "the road less travelled."
Thanks for sharing your journey with us.

David, Victoria, Canada.
 

lovingkindness

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
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Day 10 Vinhais to Sandim 12/07/2010
I know when I am finally ´in camino´, when having escaped like a bird my soul streams in solitude. It´s that moment when everything within reaches away and out from morass to the realm of bizarre obsession, when blistering heat consumes the Will and all that´s left is exhaustion, crazy thoughts weaving caminos of their own, the curving perfection of a cup fascinating more than the beverage it contains and the eye fixating on whimsy -on concrete, on mortar like toothpaste, on the irregularities of ancient stones craddled in lichen and the evolution of stonewalling in Galicia -and at the end of the day when I finally take repose I know I have succumbed when I discover I have more than thirty photos of the same thing. From Vinhais (Portugal) to Vilaverdos (Spain) the path is strenuous, the views spectacular, and the people wonderfully generous. Setting out these sweltering days I wasn´t sure if I would cope. The tourist brochure indicates grand ascents and descents, river crossings and an absence of bars and tiendas (village shops). So I ate as much as I could in Vinhais, stocked up on water and supplies then set off.

Being mid July and high summer I had expected the world to be golden dust and melancholy browns but on leaving Vinhais I found a lush river walk up to the first pueblo, Soutelo and a profusion of exquisite long-stemmed purple/lilac heather in full flower. Colour has a powerful effect and all the way to Vilaverdos as the purple spectrum seeped into my inner self I became calmed and at rest. The higher I climbed the more gorgeous these flowers became, until unable to resist any longer I pìcked a great bunch as a thanks-offering for somone or something in the next pueblo. And there as I arrived in Sobreiro de Baixo, there, on prominent display resides an impressive ciquena´s nido. Shunning the traditional high point in the village, the church tower, this stork has constructed a sophisticated post-modern atheistic roost smack bang on top of a power pole, in such style that it appears to have electricity piped in and security lights laid on. This particular nest commands attention, more so than anything else in the village and deserves a House and Garden award if there is such a thing. Shortly after Sobreiro de Baixo melting in the heat and well into a staggering ascent I happened upon a peregrina´s bathing pond, a concrete collecting pool waist deep in fresh water, elevated and open-air with stunning mountain views. Without pause I did exactly what any other tortured peregrina would do, and has probably done in eons past, I threw off my broiling penance, cast off my modest atire and sank deep, deep, deeply into cool oblivion.

In the time shortly after a Camino, or on a rest day when I have slowed down enough for creativity to take over, it is then that I realise just how dormant my mind has become. After a while, I find that the accumulation of days blanketed in heat and solitude combine with physical exertion to sap my powers of thought and, although I see everything about me, and feel fully awake, as I walk something inside begins to hibernate. Trying to journal at the end of the day produces little and it is only afterwards as I look back over photos that emotion and poetry take over. Walking in winter time and spring I find different. My mind sparks fantastically in the cool and all day long I feel on the verge of a masterpiece. But during the days from Vinhais and beyond, I had no thoughts, just an urge to get beyond, to survive the heat and pitch my tent in some place beautiful, secluded and cool. For hours after Vinheis I climbed upwards, beyond Sobreiro de Baixo to the top of the hills, a place of panoramic vistas and awesome views. And when I passed by the hamlet of Abaos an elderly couple beckoned me within -´rest a while, have a drink, here´s some bread and cheese´. So I climbed up the rickety stairs to their bird´s eye view of the Camino and sat exchanging French and Spanish and songs. All their lives they have watched humanity pass by -peregrinos on burros, on horses, with muchilas and sacks and sticks, but nobody has been by for a while. It is too hot. Sometimes the peregrinos rest by the fountain but mostly they pass this hamlet by. Finally I reached Candedo, where apparently the oldest tree in Portugal resides (but where?) and then in the heat of the day tackled the dramatic descent to the River Rabacal below. I had hoped to camp out here after a swim but found the situation too isolated. The only way out from the river is directly up -one and a half hours or more to Edral or an hour backwards to Candedo. I felt too vulnerable, too claustrophobic and hemmed in to sleep the night in this place so after paddling in the shallows heaved my resisting self onwards, up the grueliing incline to beyond.

And hours later, having consumed two days food in one, with energy levels sinking and worries setting in I found myself in Sandim, where according to my pamphlet there should have been a bar, internet access and something else. But there wasn´t, or not according to the first person I asked. Apparently I needed to walk another 20 minutes to a cafe by the bridge. So I set off and just as I was about to leave the village an angel appeared, Hilda. ´Come to my house for coffee, come. I will make you a meal!´ Unbelievable, I could have wept. Like many Spanish and Portuguese women over the past 50 years, Hilda had become an economic migrant, leaving home to work in Germany, Switzerland and France. So we were able to converse in a jumble of languages, amusing ourselves intensely, having chaotic fun. For more than 200 years Hilda´s family had lived in this particular house, and it was a fascinating combination of ancient and new. Leaving Sandim was very hard to do, but five minutes later I discovered a little hollow by the path, a place where towering braken and sweet hay grew, mingling with honeysuckle vines and blackberry brambles beside the burbling stream, and here I hid myself, just out of view of farmers making hay, horses dragging carts, and elderly women in black with traditional headscarves.
 
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lovingkindness

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
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Day 11 Sandim to Vilaverdos 13/07/2010
It is surprising how comfortable 1 centimetre of foam is to sleep on and how a tent costing almost nothing can be a palace. There are few albergues through Portugal from Zamora to Ourense and I am discovering freedom, discovering that 10 euros for One thousand and One Nights of serenity is a very good deal. I can walk for as long as I like, camp out almost anywhere and not be bothered by a rhythmic chorus of snoring peregrinos. And when I´m out during the day my eyes no longer track footprints in the dust, or stay glued to the heals of another peregrino up ahead. It´s just me and the snakes waking at dawn. After Sandim I felt fantastic and for the first time in the morning it was cold and condensation covered my tent.

The trail from Sandim through Segirei over the border to Sourochao is beautiful, crossing a river and rising steeply above to a stunning waterfall. The fifteen minutes after Segirei are the most difficult on this Camino, but not impossibly so. Beyond there are picnic tables, a collecting pond and landscaped stonewalled paths which guide up the valley through velvety green depths along an old contraband route over the border.

In general, signing from Zamora to Sandim is adequate but every day there are places where the path forks and direction is not indicated. At times I have walked for hours unsure if I was on the right track needing to time myself, in case I turned back. But from Sandim to Soutochao the signing is mostly very good with one exception, the swamp beyond Soutochao and here I found myself heading off in all directions, waiste high in grass and feet oozing in sludge. Until finally I saw high up on a tree two blue arrows, one pointing to heaven, the other east. To the right was a wire fence and a stand two-year old trees, and upward only God, and the other possibilities were not promising. Eventually I scrambled up an incline and scouting about discovered a snapped of tree trunk with a slash of blue paint. Shortly later a camino appeared but with no indication right or left. In the end I went left, eventually spotted a farmer in the fields, yelled for directions and landed in the next Pueblo. Exiting the pueblo I found a concrete Camino marker with a stylised map opposite a park, but apart from a couple of faded creamy pink arrows shortly later, my way to Vilaverdos became a fossic. There were other coloured arrows in red and green and a sign post for a contraband route which I followed until I happened upon the road sign to Vilaverdos. Paths parallel to the road then lead me to the back of the village.

10 pm: Hours later and my life has turned sureal. Suddenly, instantly a whim and an act of kindness have transported me out of my solitary world to a place of elegant people, gourmet food and fine music and at 10 pm I am about to retire on an exquisitely carved bed. As I was leaving Vilaverdos a young lady rushed out, calling ´are you a peregrina? We rarely see one in these parts. Would you like to join us for lunch?¨ And moments later I was at the table eating tomato and pimiento salsa, roast chicken and bread, conversing with a professor, a headmistress and a household of girls. I must have looked overheated, exhausted and much in need of a shower because soon they were insisting I clean up, have a rest, and drink chinese tea with them in the garden and much much much later, after lounging and chatting together for hours they said, please stay, please stay the night.....

Day 12 Vilaverdos to Verin 14/07/2001
(8.15 am)
Well, one never knows what a day will bring, and here I am, slouched in an armchair in Devesa a little pueblo 3-4 kms after Valverdos. I was passing by and hailed a man out chopping wood. His response was explosive -salutations, enthusiasm and instant hospitality. And suddenly I am in the company of a wonderful man and his wife -the man responsible for signing part of the route I have just walked, and that crazy moment yesterday when I found myself in a swamp. In May this year Pablo Moreno set of with family and friends, cans of blue and yellow paint, a few fence posts and stencils and joyfully marked out the route from Vinhais (Portugal) to Soutochao (Spain)-they haven´t had time to mark beyond this village but intend doing so soon. Concrete Camino slabs mark each village beyond Soutochao but rarely are there arrows. And in May when they were out signing near Soutochao the swamp was hip high in water and difficult to cross. Pablo says most peregrinos walk the motorway from Vilaverdos to Verin, 13 kms, missing out on the historic pueblos such as Hospital (Medieval Peregrinos hospice) and Osono which are just to the right. Pablo and friends are passionate about this particular Camino and determined that peregrinos walk what they consider to be the ´authentic way´, not a route devised by politicians which passes through Chaves (Portugal). When I left Devesa, Delia, Pablo´s wife accompanied me to the villages beside the motorway, pointing out historical aspects as we went, saying much of the area was abandoned, particularly during the time of Franco, and that it is only now that the camino is being resusitated.

After Osono I returned to the motorway and followed it all the way to Verin where I slept the night in hte Albergue next door to the Officina de Tourismo, over the bridge. 5 euros includes hot showers, a microwave, hygienic mattress cover and a pillow case, and here I acquired detailed brochures for the Camino from Verin via Alariz to Ourense. The next albergue is in Sandias, 43 kms.
 
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Past OR future Camino
CF 2006,08,09,11,12(2),13(2),14,16(2),18(2) Aragones 11,12,VDLP 11,13,Lourdes 12,Malaga 16,Port 06
What a wonderful blog! It brought a flood of emotion and memories of the Camino. Please keep writing... it's beautiful... and makes me want to walk this stretch...

All the Camino Angels along the way give me hope; aren't people wonderful?
 

lynnejohn

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances(2005), VDLP(2007), Madrid(2009), Ingles(2009), Sur (2011), VDLP(2011)-partial, VDLP(2014)
You are an intrepid adventurer indeed, lovingkindness! Your evocative and lyrical postings really do stir my longing to be there on the Way. You have such courage and willingness to accommodate to any situation you encounter, and to accept help from others. This humbles me. You have already taught me a great deal. Enjoy the remainder of your journey, and.....

Buen camino.

lynne
 

muppet

Member
Hi Lovingkindness,

Great blog! This provides a "virtual" camino for those at home on the digital highway and you're colourful and descriptive writing brings it very much to life and into peoples hearts and minds.

Keep up the good work and enjoy every moment! :)

The camino to me among other things slows down time and even stops the clock in a world that is getting increasingly fast, frantic and frenetic and you are eloquently describing how getting back to basics and living that life returns us to the fundamental meaning and enjoyment of life and existence and helps us in many cases to rediscover and reawaken our humanity and spirituality.
 
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lovingkindness

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Past OR future Camino
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Day 13 Verin to Boado 15/07/2010
Sometimes it is best not to take the advise of others, particularly if it involves walking huge stretches of motorway. But at 6.30 am in the dark as I set off from Verin, I didn´t know what was ahead and on the advise of the tourist officer followed signs out of town rather than climbing the 2kms up to Monterrei Castle. Hours of road walking followed. In fact much of the 9 hours I walked this day was on or beside tarmac and in the heat it was exhausting. Apparently there is an albergue in the Monterrei castle and had I known I would have stayed there and watched the sun rise over the castle and perhaps explored it´s surrounds in the cool of the day.

After coffee in the bar at Albarello and laughs with the barman I headed off to Infesta, passing lush garden allotments with maize and pumpkins in full growth, glowing in the early sun. The camino then ascended for several hours giving spectacular views down a valley to hazy mountains. I somehow managed to miss the village of Rebordondo, passed through Cualedro and found myself in Pena Verde. The following stretch was lovely, on tracks past interesting rock formations and green scrub. Just before 2 pm I staggered into Trasmiros and there the lady in the tabacos shop gave me a chilled coca cola and as I slumped on the service counter, rather than shut up shop immediately, she suggested I rest a while and chat. Her shop had a curious collection of shoes and trainers, cigarettes, sweets and jumble for sale as well as the usually postage stamps. Eventually I hauled on my pack and waved farewell, high on sugar and whatever else it is they add to coke. Trasmiros to Boado takes stamina and in the glaring heat it is an endurance walk along dusty straight caminos past dessicating grain and potatoe fields and, apart from a few meters of shade under a handful of trees, the only respite was beneath a concrete underpass.

Hours had passed by the time I entered Boada and before I could even think the word FOOD chilled water appeared and the ladies, the dogs and the children of the village flocked arround placing a gigantic bocadilla, jamon an inch thick in my hands and stuffing a 300 gram cake of chocolate in my pack. Wow! And for the next hour we chatted and laughed, comparing lives. The people in this village are compassionate. Every year families host children from the Sahara Desert, giving them a two month holiday, an experience beyond their extreme poverty and amidst all the excitment of my arrival, out the corner of my eye I could see three very beautiful Africans shyly watching. Like me, they spoke very little Spanish and when I tried to speak with them they hid behind their host mothers and smiled. I didn´t want to leave this place. The kindness was palpable. So, as I passed by the ancient open wells and walls in need of repair I decided to camp out as close to these people as possible. Opposite the garden allotments, I discovered an abandoned field, perfectly flat, covered in a sea of dry leaves and overgrown with regeneration. There I pitched my tent, feeling much loved and safe and hidden from all the world.
 
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lovingkindness

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
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Day 14 Boado to after Augas Santas 16/07/2010
A few days back someone suggested that I really must spend time in Allariz and the pueblo of Augas Santas so that was where I headed as I set out early from Boado. I awoke cold and in fog, sticky and covered in bites. The 3-4 km walk to Xinzo de Limia was peaceful and lovely, golden in the dawn. To the right were fields of dusty grain ready for harvest, to the left a shady river overgrown with water lillies, reeds, and irises and a donkey gorging itself on pasture. I´d forgotten that I was in Galicia. In my head I was in Spain but the men in a bar I stumbled across made it plain that this was not so, they were Gallegos and didn´t understand a word I spoke. They were amused by my enthusiasm and asked the barman to translate and after drinking two coffees and eating four cakes, paid for by a wrinkly old guy who insisted, after all this overstuffed, happy, cheerful and happy I set off for Allariz.

The signing out of Xinco is probably very good but I became so engrossed in company that I was at the outskirts of town before I noticed and heading off down an autopista. I stumbled across the local bombeiros and they advised me to backtrack and take a minor road parallel. Too much of this day was then walked on tarmac and I became bored and fed up with it. There was, however a scenic streatch to the left of Coado and an exquisite length of time after San Salvador and I suppose Allariz is a fantastic awesome place, but after taking a few shots of the Iglesia de Santiago Apostal my only thought was to head for the river, to dive dark and deep and sleep in the sludge at the bottom. The day was just too hot and my appetite for food and ancient things disappeared. I did eventually walk to Augas Santas but the place was shut and there was no food to be had so I hid myself in some undergrowth and passsed out.
 
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lovingkindness

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
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Day 15 after Augas Santas to Ourense 17/07/2010
It´s dark outside, 3 am and I´m scared rigid, full of fright having visions of a slit throat, gouged out stomach and my remains left parching for the birds. I´m sure that at least two wild boars are within metres of my tent about to rampage the minute they sense my body heat. Dogs are howling and the locals are still revelling in the distance but I doubt my screams would be heard. And then, suddenly I´m asleep. I don´t know how, but peace kicked in and fright went out and then it was dawn, cold and clammy, and only a few short hours to Ourense.

Every day I have walked this route people have asked, aren´t you afraid to walk alone, aren´t you scared sleeping out in the countryside amongst wild pigs, the snakes and wolves? And I say no. For too long I was crippled by fear and I am no longer allowing it to suffocate and kill, to choke the life from me and plough me under. I decided ten years ago to change, to do something practical and physical to strengthen my soul, to find ways to grow in boldness and courage, to crucify the fear within. Walking long distances, learning to travel on my own, having to fend for myself has wrought a wonderful confidence. My biggest enemy, I find, is myself. In all the years I have been out and about nothing bad has happened. On the rare occassion it almost did, in hindsight it was through my own folly -when overtired, hungry, lost in a world of dreams common everyday sense evapourated. But I am becoming wiser. Perhaps I will never be totally free but the girl I was in 2000, the person who was afraid to talk with others, to socialise, to even walk out the front door has just about disappeared.

Having already walked to Ourense once, along the Via Sanabres in winter, I was curious to see if the route from Augas Santas was an improvement. My only memories from December last year are frozen -a lengthy descent in white-out fog, an industrial area, then, before reaching the city a pretty moment in Seixalbo. From Augas Santas to Taboadela the way is lovely, down overgrown verdant stone-walled lanes, past maize feilds and grape vines, views of civilisation in the distance occassionally appearing through the trees. After Toaboadela it was all road-walking but I didn´t care because I couldn´t wait to reach the city, to see the gorgeous colouring on the cathedral portico, to seep for hours in thermal pools down by the river, and to chat with a few weary peregrinos in the albergue. And then, suddenly I was there, being greeted by a hyper-happy enthusiastic hospitalero and there my journey came to its end.
 
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lovingkindness

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
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hi there, everyone. Here´s a few photos from along the way. Cheers, Lovingkindness

ps. Walking the Camino Portugues de la Via de la Plata in high summer takes stamina, a little ferociousness and a love of solitude. Reading my blog takes more! If you´ve got this far, you´re a superstar. Thanks for the encouragements. Regards, Lovingkindness
 
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lovingkindness

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
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I have squandered huge amounts of time yesterday and today trying to resize these photos and post them on this website. i thought I had it figured. Spanish software, however, has sabotaged my intent. As soon as someone out there or here, where I´m staying figures it out, the photos will appear. Cheers, Lovingkindness. ps I´ve read the other thread, ´´frequently asked questions´and am trying a few tips.
 
Past OR future Camino
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Hmmmm... well... how about this.

It will take forever, but you can do it with your best shots...

http://www.flickr.com/

You can simply upload them here and it automatically resizes them.... then you just give folks the link???

Here is my art photostream if you want to see how it looks..

http://www.flickr.com/photos/anniecarvalho/

If you click on "View as slideshow" in the right hand corner, you can go through them quickly.
 
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Past OR future Camino
CF 2006,08,09,11,12(2),13(2),14,16(2),18(2) Aragones 11,12,VDLP 11,13,Lourdes 12,Malaga 16,Port 06
I think if you want to post them here, the photos must be resized.. maybe to 50% of their original size. Open them in whatever program you use on your computer, then click on edit, resize... you may want to save them with a different name... then post them... right now we can only see a portion of the photo because they're so large.

Or you could go to http://www.blogspot.com and post your entire blog there. The program sizes the photos for you there.
 
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peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Wow, lovingkindness, these pictures are beautiful -- I would be hard pressed to say whether your lyrical prose tops your photographic eye or vice versa. You are one talented peregrina! I hope you'll continue this custom when you start on your long walk -- there are lots of us who would love to follow you from afar. Buen camino, Laurie
 

lovingkindness

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
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thanks, Laurie. Writing and taking photos are a new absorption for me. I am still finding my way with both skills and also with things electronic. -Lovingkindness
 
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Jennifer Juniper

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances fall 2014 or 2015
What a wonderful thread! Thank you so much, lovingkindness, for your poetry and vision.You have made me long for my own Camino. Blessings to you now and on all your future journeys.
 

colinwkay

Scottish Walker
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances 08/2012 Camino Via De La Plata June 2013
Lovely photographs and especially your stories, well done, and thanks for sharing.
I was inspired by Camino Frances last year and undertake VDLP in June, cant wait.
Take care Colin Scotland :D
 

pmw

New Member
Past OR future Camino
2004 & 2005 Camino Frances and Finisterre. 2013 via de la plata
2014 del Norte, Ingles, Finisterre
Likewise, great photos, thankyou. I start in just over 2 weeks, on May 8th from Seville, can't wait!
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
I don't mean to be pedantic here, but colin and pmw, unless you are going to take a really solitary alternative north of Zamora, I don't think you will see any of the things lovingkindness photographed except for the last two of the Ourense cathedral!

For anyone walking the Vdlp, when you get to Zamora you can choose to head west into Portugal as lovingkindness did (this route goes through Braganca), or keep going north another 40 kms to Granja de Moreruela. Only the intrepid like lk and sulu head west into Portugal. If you keep with the crowds, at Granja de Moreruela, you will have another choice to make. Go left for Ourense (the Camino Sanabres) or keep going north where you will intersect with the Frances in Astorga. Those who head west for Ourense will have yet another choice in A Gudina, where you will have to choose between the "southern" route through Verin or the more common alternative through Laza.

And just to complicate things a bit more, I think that the Portuguese route lovingkindness took actually hooks back up with the Sanabres in Verin, at least that's what her pictures show.

All that this means is that we will always have another Camino to walk! Laurie

and p.s., lovingkindness, when are you going to treat us to another camino espectacular?!
 
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lovingkindness

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
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peregrina2000 said:
....and p.s., lovingkindness, when are you going to treat us to another camino espectacular?!

...I'm too exhausted to write just now but If the heavens transpire and my host says, Oui, you can stay another night, I'll tell all. The GR653D which links Arles to Montgenevre is stupendously magnificent but increases in difficulty day by day.....

Hi ya Laurie :)
Merci beaucoup les autres

au revoir
 

piogaw

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino frances (05/06 2012) sjpdp-sdc; vdlp/camino sanabrea (02/03 2013) sevilla-sdc; hospitalero sdc june 2013, august-september 2013; caminho portugues (03 2014) lisboa-sdc
Thank you lovingkindness for your poetic description of your camino by heading west to braganza. Unfortunately i have not the chance to undertake that portion of the camino on my last camino.

Hope to hear about your next camino. Thanks again for the vivid description of your camino. I enjoy thoroughly reading about your camino. God bless.
 

sulu

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
a few since 2010
And just to complicate things a bit more, I think that the Portuguese route lovingkindness took actually hooks back up with the Sanabres in Verin, at least that's what her pictures show

It does. Technically this route then follows the quieter route (no albergues) via Allariz but the Caminho Interior in Portugal also leads into Verin and suggests walking on to Laza, from there there are albergues. Walking through Portugal is lovely and the people very friendly, this would be an ideal alternative now that there are so many construction sites on the Sanabres, at least you would miss a few.
The Caminho Interior is yet another camino as well :)
 

gsilver

New Member
Hi,

I did this variant starting November 1, 2013. I have to say that little has changed - beautiful countryside, kind people, deficient way marking. The pile of stone monolith markers in Arcillera you mention are still there, un-erected. A pot of yellow paint and a few days work would really turn this variant into a wonderful alternative.

Really loved Portugal and Verin-Laza.
 

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