Yep, time for another mini trip…..this time, to visit my awesome and gutsy friend Tanya who has bought a house in Oia and moved to Spain to live on the Portugues Coastal Camino.
Gonzalo had a day off so we drove down south and through the all familiar mountains that I have walked over the past few years. I was pinging with envy as we passed back-pack laden pilgrims walking towards Santiago, and wonderful memories of the Sanabres Camino particularly, came flooding back. Gonzalo and I had discussed the question of “why do we put ourselves through the pain and endurance of walking Caminos?” The pleasure and pain of long distance walking is a weird addiction.
So after nearly 2 hours driving, the ocean appeared and we followed the coast to Oia, an absolutely beautiful village with such ancient history and truly spiritual atmosphere. It compares to Muxia but has a much better and lively vibe.
Tanya’s turning her house into a haven for pilgrims, a type of albergue that will surely be a “must stay” for future Camino walkers. We met in the gardens of the restaurant next door with the backdrop of mountains and front drop (if that’s even a word) of the ocean with its vista of little boats bobbing on the waves and the sound of seagulls. A large monastery dominates the towns centre, down by the seaside. Although it was a little windy, the sun was warm and it was easy to see why she has chosen this place to live.
Jessica, a Spanish friend, joined us and we moved on to another bar for another drink. It was so typical of country Spain, with its tiled walls and “bar flies” (regular customers) just chilling. No matter what time of day, there is always a beer in hand. I imagine that this bar has not changed in its entire lifetime. It was a bar/cigarette shop and for the hour or so that we were there, I watched the owner (who looked about 90 something) shuffle the cigarette packets around on the shelves until he was satisfied that it looked perfect and then proceeded to count them over and over again. Poor luv. I think it was ordering day because he slowly pulled out an old tatty book and pencilled numbers and counted his cigarettes again to make sure he had it all right. His big job for the week! Then there was his wife, also behind the counter, but she was glued to the soap opera on the television. I watched her shush people and wave annoyedly at them to wait until the commercial break before she would serve them. Each time the ads came on, she would straighten the potato chip and Cheetos packets, grab a broom and sweep 2 feet of the floor or wipe the bench top. She only moved within a 2 foot square area. Hilarious!
Then there was the gumboot and overall clad character who delivered the potatoes. He made a honking noise as he wheeled his wheelbarrow into the shop, slid two boxes of freshly dug up potatoes under a table, and made beeping noises as he backed out again, dragging his rusty old wheelbarrow, and disappearing into the distance.
I so love the people of Spain and the quaint quirkiness and old fashioned way of life. People think of Spain as flamenco dancing, cities like Madrid and Barcelona, holiday resorts, but northern Spain, especially Galicia, is like another country altogether. Life is so slow, relaxed and just FANTASTIC.
Anyway, we moved on to the albergue (hostel/bar) down the road for a delicious dinner of prawns, salad and steak, again on the waterfront, and then headed up to the mountains behind A Guarda.
I had not been to this place before. As we wound our way up to the peak, I realized why so few pilgrims know of its existence. It would be a grueling 2 or 3 hour climb! You need a car.
At the top, I was treated to what seemed to be a portal to an ancient world. The remains of a Celtic village (Santa Tecla) once housed well over 2000 people and dated back to 1-2,000 BC!
Two houses have been rebuilt to show what they would have looked like.
It was extraordinary and I had goosebumps from head to toe when I touched the stone alter at the top.
Almost on queue, the mist began to envelop us and the sun was going down. The wind dropped and I stood there in awe watching the theatre if it all. My whole body was buzzing like an electric current. I just can’t describe how magical, ethereal, surreal, it was!
All I can say is wow! Then it was back down to Oia again.
we were up early next morning and Tanya cooked American pancakes which I drowned in the Canadian maple syrup that was given to me a few days ago. Delicious!
Then back in Santiago we met up with Susie and Fermin (from Casa Susi) who were in town for a brief visit. We had a quick lunch at Malak Bistro then we took them to see the spectacular view of Santiago.
Gosh! After saying goodbye, I whipped home for a half hour siesta and then took off to meet with the Irish again. I had promised to take them on my walk of ‘Santiago Secrets’, but how can you resist an evening of craic?! Phew! I’m exhausted but what a great 2 days! Thank you to everyone involved.