El Camino aporta! The way provides.
Now we are halfway through our journey, and there is certainly a lot to share thus far! Before I discuss all the gifts that O Cebreiro, also known as Pedrafita do Cebreiro, has to offer, I will recount our walk from Villafranca to La Laguna (the town we stayed in prior to O Cebreiro). Our fearless leaders, Dr. Gyug and Dr. Myers, warned the group that our trek from Villafranca to La Laguna (approximately 22k) was going to be difficult. Walking along the highway was not so bad at first, but once we approached the last few kilometers, we hit a very steep climb. Most of the group made it to La Laguna just fine, but Mike and I had quite the adventure.
Everything was going great until we reached a small town called La Faba. Mike and I took a left instead of a right, and ended up walking 10 hours that day, about 10-15 extra kilometers out of our way up the mountain and through the valley. Thankfully we had each other, because we were very much off the path and deep into the mountains with barely any people and definitely no cell reception. We also did not have much food or water either, so I start to panic a little bit. But The Camino provides, and a woman in the only house in this part of the mountain guided us in the right direction. Fatigued and anticipating the next albergue, Mike and I finally made it to O Cebreiro which was not far from La Laguna. I was a good person to be lost with at that point because O Cebreiro was my town to research, so I recognized it as soon as we approached the pallozas, Celtic music, and Gallego speaking tienda keeper. Good conversation, faith and hope helped us get through our adventure. And we kept saying that we would certainly have a story to tell!
After staying in La Laguna that night, the entire group went to O Cebreiro, the first town within Galicia. Dating back to the Medieval period, this town has several major features. The first is the Iglesia de Santa Maria la Real, a church with Romanesque features, but most importantly, the Holy Grail. Legend has it that in the 14th century, a peasant from a neighboring hamlet went to the church during a storm to receive the Eucharist. He entered during the consecration, disrupting the priest whom immediately scolded him, saying that the peasant came just to eat. Immediately the bread and wine turned into flesh and blood. This miracle established the chalice used at this Mass as the Holy Grail. This isn’t the first Holy Grail we have seen though, there was another one, recently found in Leon too! How many people can say they have seen the Holy Grail twice?
Other noteworthy features of O Cebreiro included the monument for Father Elias Valiña Sampedro, a parish priest from the 1970s who did a lot of wonderful work for the parish and pilgrims. He helped preserve parts of the Camino, including O Cebreiro, and bringing tourism to the town. He is buried within the church, and a bust of him is outside. If you look carefully, you might mistake him for Dr. Gyug!
Other exciting things about O Cebreiro are the pallozas, which are oval, stone houses with thatched roofs. These are Celtic homes with two rooms, one for animals and another for humans. There is a museum entirely dedicated to the history of this unique architecture.
After O Cebreiro we walked to Triacastela. This marks the halfway point through our walk, and the end of the most difficult part of trekking through the mountains!
Peace and love,