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Friday, 28 June 2013

Last nights walk into Barbadelo and its Romanesque church was very tough in the heat and I think that by the time we arrived I was hallucinating because I was disappointed not to be greeted by Jane Fonda in a space suit. Today's walk had many high points not least the spectacular countryside we were privileged to be walking through. A downside, if it is one, is that from Sarria  the Camino becomes crowded. You only need to walk from Sarria in order to obtain your certificate of Compostela so the path that was once almost empty is now a tide of human traffic all going to Santiago. This seems to have given the long distance pilgrims an even stronger bond. We meet up at the coffee breaks, bruised and battered, with worn down shoes and great each other with added fondness and friendship. Along the way there are kilometre markers showing the distance to Santiago and Mary today reached her favourite one, 99K to go. We met Joe at the 100k marker and he got his picture taken. Today's walk was about wooden bridges, oak woods, streams and granite slabs. The path wound its way through Rente and Mercado to enter Marzan through a stone passage and then on to Peruscallo where we could see the large granite granaries with roofs made of enormous slate slabs.  The path to the Medieval site of Brea and then Ferrerios goes along an idyllic but at times tortuous path among granite pieces and small waterfalls. We stopped at Mercadoiro for a coffee break and to catch up on all the news and then it was a big push to Portomarin before the crowds. It is now a real hassle for accommodation but we were lucky to get booked in to the same hotel as last year. Mary will tell you about one of our Camino moments, a real high today.  C.  Just in case we might feel a little smug about walking 500 miles (cue The Pretenders) we were humbled to meet Jan and Ruth from England who have walked from Le Puy, which is 1000 miles from Santiago.  They teamed up with Adrienne, her son Colm and Mary from USA in St Jean Pied de Port and have walked together from there.  Anyway they all clubbed together and gave us a very generous donation for our charities.  Its not often I'm speechless. Detached as we are from reality I am still aware that today is special for a lot of people. For all our friends, relations and former colleagues who today start their well deserved summer break from school,  have a good holiday.  Special mention to our daughter Claire and the staff of Little Flower Girl's School Belfast, the staff of Roddensvale School Larne, and Mairead in St Mary's  in Downpatrick.
And to my dear friend Ann Cunningham who retires today.  Generations of young men in North Belfast are indebted to you for your wisdom and guidance.  You will be sorely missed.  M.

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