It has been the most glorious day so far on the pilgrim trail and every peregrino I have spoken to tonight has said the same thing. The sheer beauty of the countryside under a glorious late autumn sky, after such a day as yesterday, leaves one breathless. This has to be my poem for today, something I hummed among many old hymns during the day as I walked mainly alone through what seems the world’s largest dairy farm!

The Pilgrim
— John Bunyan

Who would true Valour see
Let him come hither;
One here will Constant be,
Come Wind, come Weather.
There’s no Discouragement,
Shall make him once Relent,
His first avow’d Intent,
To be a Pilgrim.

Who so beset him round,
With dismal Storys,
Do but themselves Confound;
His Strength the more is.
No Lyon can him fright,
He’l with a Gyant Fight,
But he will have a right,
To be a Pilgrim.

Hobgoblin, nor foul Fiend,
Can daunt his Spirit:
He knows, he at the end,
Shall Life Inherit.
Then Fancies fly away,
He’l fear not what men say,
He’l labour Night and Day,
To be a Pilgrim.

How can I possibly share this day with you, when even the pictures are inadequate. I saw Galicia’s ‘floating islands as I looked back towards Sarria, and I walked through misty arcades of trees. The hour was more than golden: such experiences are beyond price.

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The Camino is completely a part of this part of the country, so the path sometimes leads into farmers’ backyards. Three times I met herds of cows being herded to and from byres. The scent of the woodland mixes pungently with that of liquid manure; and then there was the emu! Emu, I hear you ask, and I have no explanation.

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Just before Ferrerios, where I stopped for a coffee but didn’t feel like much else, I passed the 100km mark, quite an achievement. A passerby helped me out with a photo, which will help cure me of the sin of vanity, as I still look like a fat bastard with skinny legs. I wonder if the health fund would let me go back to St Jean and start from the beginning? Then I might cut a more dashing figure.

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The road felt so good, I just kept walking through this glorious countryside that just glowed with the wash down had received from the torrential rain. I spoke for a while to an Australian girl who was with a group of cross country cyclists from the Sydney Swans: again, it was a day for strange and wondrous things.

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At Vilchacha, a tiny community 4 km out of my goal of Portomarin, kindly hands had provided hot tea and coffee, vino tinto and food, all for a donativo. The indefatigable Dianne came down the hill as I sat and enjoyed a coffee, and she fed the ten stray cats that flocked to her as soon as she unwrapped a sweet bun. Marin, the tall German girl who often stays in the same albergues, was amused by this, but what caught my eye was the Australian flag decorating the wall. Why? A mystery.

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Anyway, such matters are for the Wise. I rolled down the hill at the rates of knots, having walked without poles all day and averaging just under 11 minutes per kilometre, walked into town and booked in at the muni (the government run albergue). Clean and moderne,MIT has nothing to recommend it except it has dryers. Nothing dries anymore, because the temperature is rapidly heading south. I joined Frederick, the Dutch drummer, Swedish Carina, and German Marina for dinner. Terry and Kirsten came by for a drink, so even though it a only a menu Peregrino, a good time was had. I’m lying in one of the muni dorms, crammed with people, annoying snorers obvious for the first time in a week, and wondering why the whimpy Europeans who now dominate the group (they’ve all started today) can’t leave a bloody window open. 28 people and no ventilation, and the place is heated…

I should finish a little of last night’s story, because after such a challenging day, the evening was more than pleasant. I waited until the rain stopped and then wandered around the old part of Sarria for a bit, the ruins if the castle looking appropriately gloomy against the skyline.

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I went to mass and received the Peregrino’s blessing and a sello as I thought I should show that I had done more than sleep and drink on my journey. Then I wandered back to the bar, where the owner had taken a shine to me for some reason and kept plying me with tapas because I ordered another cerveica grande. Dennis, on his last night in this part of his Camino, was hoping for a soccer game,but no luck; so we wandered up to the very good Italian at the top of the street and shared a pizza. He won’t be back to finish until Easter, so we wished each other Buon Camino in celebration of two hours of metaphysical and practical discussions that were great fun. When we got back to the albergue, the owner had lit a fire in his rather funky fire room and we dried out boots, played guitar and sang, and sampled local liquor. I surprised my self leading the singing of “Waltzing Matilda” and accompanying I to the guitar and Dennis and I stumbled through “Throw Your Arms Around Me”. I was surprised not to I march with a headache on the morn, but the clear skies seemed to absorb the alcohol!

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