Midway through the second climb after leaving O’Cebreiro, I was cursing the author of my guidebook, who had left out vitally important information. I had been promised a downhill walk the day after the big climb. Nowhere had it stated that two major climbs happened before the eventual descent.
My legs, already tired from the challenging day before, were like deflated rubber as I collapsed against the stone wall of an old cemetery. Shuffling to stand under the broken tile overhang, hoping for some shelter from the heavy drizzle, I burst into tears.
Please, ancestors and angels—I’m so tired of the climb, please show me that the end is in sight, I sobbed to myself dramatically.
The zip of tires on wet pavement distracted me from my misery and I looked up to see a roadway twenty feet above eye level.
Oh, thanks. That is the end of the climb there. Let me rephrase the request: Oh please, transport me easily to the end of the climb.
In no time at all, I was ensconced behind a table in a warm barroom, plate of huevos y jamon in front of me and a grande café con leche in hand. The room was packed with the rumble of raised voices, laughter, clanking cutlery, and about twenty damp and virile Spanish men.
I was really loving my ancestors and angels. And judging by the size of my companion’s grin, I think she felt the same.
Back out into the cold rain, we walked through landscape that was rumored to be the most beautiful on El Camino. For a while, however, we could only see the misty sides of buildings just before running into them. When the fog lifted, it was like passing through the mists into Avalon, revealing a charmed land of green fields, sloping hills, and slate villages.
This was a magic land, where nature was a living force. It was a place where man lived with nature as he had for many centuries past, and would for many to come. Galicia was the Shire, the pure land. The home of my ancestors.
(Excerpt from Do You Think You Will Break?)