I had a decent sleep in Castro in our room which contained just 2 bunks. On waking I greeted the bleary eyed young Spanish girl in the bunk opposite with a cheery ” Buenos Dias ” . I asked if she had slept well and she made a gesture indicating that she hadn’t . Mea culpa……..
There was a lot of foot care going on first thing this morning as the long descent yesterday had taken it’s toll . Nearly everyone had developed blisters , myself included. The nail on my right big toe looks like it’s done for too. A mobile podiatrist would make a killing on the Camino !
It was a beautiful morning’s walk , the mist taking until late morning to clear and providing some great photo opportunities as we ascended to a windmill lined ridge
Around mid morning I met an Aussie from Brisbane named Richard who was walking with a French lady. He remarked that it was unusual to meet a native English speaker on this route. Indeed he was only the second one I have met so far as most of the walkers on our leg are Spanish , French or German. Richard is 68 yrs old and started his walk on July 9th in Geneva , so he has walked around 1800km up to this point. He told me he walked the Via Francigena from Canterbury to Rome last year and intends to walk the Pacific Crest Trail next year , followed by the Appalachian Trail the year after. We had a brief chat about the risk of attack by a Grizzly Bear on the PCT but he didn’t appear to want to dwell on this. I guess in Australia you’d call that ” Walkabout Extreme “.
I met a few retirees today who had chalked up long walks. I stopped at a small bar in Acebo and got chatting with a German lady who told me she’d walked alone from Switzerland to Santiago 8 years ago , taking 3 months to do so. Some people will do anything to get out of grandparent duties : ) .
During the afternoon we crossed into Galicia and the rays on scallop shells that mark the route switched direction and are now pointing towards Santiago. I arrived at the small town of Fonsagrada late afternoon and decided that was enough walking for the day. Fathers Juan and Gustavo also stayed in the town and concelebrated evening Mass in the town church with the local Parish Priest . At the end of Mass all the pilgrims , including Fathers Juan and Gustavo , stood in a semi- circle at the front of the church and the Parish Priest gave us all a Pilgrim Blessing.
The walk on day 8 took us through a number of very small Galician mountain villages and included the last significant stretch of high elevation walking . It was another fine day and I spent most of it walking with Julian , a gregarious Argentinian lad in his mid twenties who was taking a year out after completing a law degree in Buenos Aries. He had recently spent some time working in Cornwall and had also had a period of busking with his violin in London and Paris. He proudly told me that he was ” half-Irish ” , explaining that several generations ago some of his ancestors had migrated to Argentina from Ireland. He went on to say that there was a very large community of Argentinians of Irish descent and that many of them intermarried down the years and still maintain their cultural identity. He told me that it was the Irish Christian Bothers and Jesuits that introduced Rugby Union to Argentina via their schools. I was aware of Admiral Brown connection with Foxford in Mayo and knew that Che Guevara’s Father was a Lynch but really had no idea that there were so many of Irish descent in Argentina ( which I now read is the 5th largest Irish community in the world ) .