Stage 32, Oct 7, Barbadelo to Hospital Alta da Cruz, 29.4km, total time 7:45hrs.

In broad terms, if the Meseta region after Burgos can be paralleled to Hell, then Galicia is undoubtedly Paradise. This is not only in reference to the superb green and hilly landscape compared to the desertic dry wheatfields of the Mesetas, but also with reference to the attention and respect for the pilgrims and their needs.

For one is the milestone system provided by the land administration that marks with no fail every 500m on the trail. With a sudden relief, I realized I could actually switch off my own GPS tracker and  use the public system to measure my progress, and cut off the endless discussion of which system is most accurate. After all, who cares of precision in a life that is timed by the position of the sun in the sky and the thickness of the dust layer on your shoes?

Today I feel in peace with God and myself. I am fit and strong and despite some late showers last night, the day is clear and sunny.

Last night was one of those nights, in which I felt very uncomfortable in   joining the communal table for dinner, because of the noise and the superficial small talk. I was ready to eat in a corner a leftover of stale bread with some chocolate squares, if it were not for Marivel, a girl from Panama but living in Madrid, also annoyed by the confusion in the main dining room, who was able to negotiate with the restaurant to let us use a small table in the kitchen. With a simple and nice gesture she then invited me and another couple to join her for dinner. Maybe this helped to set my mood for today’s walk.

I took so many pictures today but I will be able only to post a few to document the various shapes of the Camino trail in this magic countryside.

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Need to say though that as small villages are very charming with their stone houses and comfortable front yards, the major cities in Galicia are often ugly and totally lacking personality.  So are so far Sarria, Portmarin and Melide.

The frequency of crosses and milestones decorated with pilgrim’s offerings is rapidly increasing, and the abundance of stone as building material is seen at almost every corner with small tabernacle or remnants of medieval inscriptions.

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Tomorrow I will elaborate further on the key encounter of today, Father Xavier, a French ordained priest who studied philosophy and theology in Rome and spent two years in L’Aquila after the earthquake to help rebuilding the ruined churches and also the devotion of the local people in trusting again God’s ways.

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Without doubts he has been the most influential person encountered so far, and being a modern priest admitting his doubts, he draws a lot of respect.

Unfortunately he opted to stop in Portomarin for the night, while I kept on going until Hospital Alta da Cruz. Later through email he informed me about his intentions to quit the Camino for personal motives. For sure I will keep in contact with him and possibly I shall organize a trip to visit him in his community near Le Puy in central France.

Santiago is now only 71.8km away.

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