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Mosaic

[Tuesday 18th September; Spain Day 7, Camino Day 10. Today’s walking distance 23.7 klms (total 252.5 to date)]


The word mosaic is usually reserved for creations from the art world, but in the vernacular it can also have meanings to do with mixtures and assortments. In my mind a mosaic can also be a metaphor for a picture which is clear from a distance but is less obvious close up. This Camino experience has been one of mixtures and assortments and one which has allowed me to take a slightly different view on life as I normally view it. Much of this was brought to my consciousness today when I saw the absolutely fabulous Camino mosaic at the Monastery of St John de Poio, an incredible piece of art but much much more than that.


But back to the beginning of the day. We had agreed on a 9am start, for reasons which may not have completely stood the tests of logic. Nevertheless, that was the plan, which was thrown into some early disarray when our suitcase collected arrived a little after 8:30 am. After a group photo we marched out of our lovely Parador at little after 9, and across the Ponte de Burgo over the swirling Lérez River, and onto our respective destinations. For today was the day when the larger group split into two – three people heading straight north into Santiago de Compostela, and the other four of us veering left off the main and onto the Spiritual Variation – the slightly extended path which takes us winding around the coast until we eventually re-join the main path just south of Padron.


I wasn’t sure why the Spiritual Variation was so named, indeed, I’m still not quite sure, but I assume that it has to with both the magnificence of the monasteries at Poio and here at Armenteira, and the yet to come Path of Stone and Wood through which we will pass tomorrow. I’ll add to that the magic beauty of the little fishing village of Combarro through which we passed as we snaked our way along today’s path, and indeed even the hill climb out of Combarro, which whilst long and at times seemingly unending, had a beauty in itself and afforded us a simply wonderful view of the estuary way below us.


A few photos follow with some explanations.


Possibly our final group photo, taken on the magnificent staircase of the Parador de Pontevedra, a stately building which used to be the residence of the Counts of Maceda. 16th century luxury.


At the start of the Spiritual Deviation ...


And our new special waymarkers ...


Breakfast at the little little village of Cabaleiro. An 8-egg (and cheese) Spanish tortilla. How good was this to fuel us up for the hill ahead?


Outside the monastery at Poio.


The monastery's cloisters. The architecture was stunning.


Below are just two shots of the highlight of the day, and one of the highlights of the whole walk. From a second room to the side of the entrance one enters a second cloister. Along three of its walls. The mosaic is 2.6 metres tall, 80 metres long and comprises some 1,000,000 tiles. It tells the whole story of the Camino Frances. I've chosen just two shots - one of my favourite cities - Ponferrada - and our destination, the Cathedral at Santiago de Compostela. My photos do not do justice to the scale of this wonderful work, completed over three years from 1989-1992.



At the fishing (and witch) village of Combarro. Beautiful horreos ...


We stopped for a sort of second breakfast at one of the seaside restaurants. All manner of seafood was available and a couple of the establishments had barbecue-type cookers right on the sea wall. Judging by the number of pulpo-pots (I assume) piled up all around, and on the boat below, I guess that the produce comes direct from the waters in front of the town.


"Second breakfast", at Combarro ...


I have spoken before about the extensive Blue Gum forests and the obvious fire risk they present. Half-way up the hill a team was clearing them extensively. Whether this is normal harvest, or fire risk mitigation, or just pest elimination (or all three) I can't tell.


Almost to the top. The beautiful view over the estuary made the walk worthwhile.


Ahonastery.h, made it. The 16th century church at the Armenteira monastery.



From the monastery cloisters ...


And now we have made it. The uber-modern Pousada Armenteira ...


From the front of our room ...


Downhill day tomorrow. Easy easy.

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Peter Campbell is a traveller, photographer, author.  He lives in the south-west corner of Western Australia with his wife Janet and golden retriever Peggy alongside the Indian and Great Southern oceans, in a peaceful rural setting surrounded by tall trees and in the company of kangaroos and kookaburras.  He can be contacted at this email address.

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