Tag Archives: St. James

Tábara to Santa Croya de Tera to Santa Marta de Tera to Camarzana de Tera

May 25 – Up early again today, for a fourteen mile hike to Santa Croya.  Daybreak by the Torre (tower) with storks, of course, and sunrise from the road.

Tábara looks like a very nice town in the early morning light.  Too bad I was too tired yesterday to see any of it!

Lots of company on the trail this morning, mostly French, with one skinny Irish boy toting a ukulele.

A nice mix of farm track and green trail today.  For some reason, we were plagued by black flies.  Bugs usually aren’t an issue, and we have no bug spray.  I kept my mouth closed, but they flew up my nose and in my ears.  I thought for sure you would be able to see the flies in the photos!

At a fork with no clear sign to indicate the right direction, pilgrims made their own arrows to guide us:

Tonight we are staying at Casa Anita, a huge alburgue that is the only place to stay in Santa Croya.  In addition to the dormitories, they rent private rooms upstairs, and we booked one.  Signs let us know we are getting close.

Our hostess made us feel welcome, and let us know that Casa Anita is not only the only place in town to sleep, but also the only place to eat!  They serve a communal supper at 7:30, with two choices of entree.  What fun!  Back in 2011 when we walked the Camino Franćes, we enjoyed many communal suppers, but this one is the first opportunity we’ve had on this trail.

We arrived downstairs about 5 minutes early, to check out the tables.  One long table was buzzing in French, but at the other, we heard English!  Yay!  We sat down and introduced ourselves to three Australians and the Irish lad, and had a long, rambling conversation over wine, vegetable soup, pasta, pork loin, salad and fresh fruit for dessert.  Nicest evening.  208 miles to go.
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May 26 – Back when we were in Zamora, we heard about a statue of St James that dated from the late eleventh or early twelfth century – the earliest representation of him as a pilgrim.  We looked in the churches and the museum at the cathedral, but couldn’t find it.  Finally, a tour guide who spoke some English let us know that the statue we were looking for was not in the city of Zamora at all, but a hundred kilometers away in a small church in Santa Marta de Tera, which is part of the province of Zamora.  Well, guess where we are right now?  Visiting a string of little towns on the Rio Tera, and Santa Marta is just a short walk away!

We woke to thunderstorms, making us glad we weren’t planning to walk far today.  We hung around the alburgue until almost 10, then set out for Santa Marta.  The Romanesque church was small, and was identified as a Monesterio, so I guess there used to be more to it.

The very nice lady inside turned on the lights for us and let us explore.

On the wall was a reproduction of the statue we were looking for – St James with his trademark staff and shell.  We asked where the original statue could be found?  Oh, she said, (in Spanish of course) it’s around back by the cemetery. Whoopee!

We went around to the back of the church, and there it was!

On the other side of the door was an equally ancient statue of St Peter.

The cemetery had some fresh mounds, reminding us that actual people were under there:

Upstairs there was a little museum with old books, pilgrim artifacts and bits of saints:

So glad we found this place!

Then it was back into the thunder and lightning for a wet walk to Camarzana de Tera.

And now we are in a little hotel with a very nice restaurant, drying out.  203 miles to go.

Padrón to Santiago

10/10 – today we walk the final 14.5 miles in to Santiago! We left around 8am (that’s about a half hour before dawn), with the intent to get as many miles in as possible before the rain started again.

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Around 11 a cold wind blew… then it passed over and we could actually see blue sky! It was exciting to see the markers count down to single digits:

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We found our hotel, showered and rested, then walked down to the old city to see the Cathedral.

IMG_2661.JPG It was covered in even more scaffolding than the last time we were here in 2011, but looked beautiful to us, even though the rain was coming down again.

10/11 – In the morning, we got into the queue to get our Credencial, the official document that says you have completed your pilgrimage.

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You do this by showing your record of dates and places you stayed and ate along the way. This record was as important as our passports – I’m going to feel like something is missing if I don’t have to ask for a stamp every night!

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An hour later, we had our certificates:

IMG_2698.JPG. We didn’t realize until we got home that the clerk had entered the wrong start date, 21 Jul instead of 21 August. That officially makes us the slowest walkers on the Camiño!

Then we headed back to the Cathedral for the Pilgrims Mass at noon. We got there just in time to snag two seats in the front section nearest the altar.

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The mass is totally in Spanish, but you can hear when your country and your Camino is mentioned. A nun with a beautiful soprano voice led the sung responses, and a choir sang during communion.

At the end of the service is the moment everyone waited for: with organ rumbling and choir singing, eight sturdy deacons hefted the world’s biggest thurible (incense burner), el Botofumeiro, and set it swinging across the cathedral. Word is that this tradition started because the pilgrims smelled so bad, but now it is the highlight of the pilgrim service, and is a wonder to behold. A pic doesn’t do it justice – go to YouTube and see any number of videos. Jim will post one soon on his blog.

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After the mass, we took our turn climbing the steps behind the altar, to wrap our arms around the golden statue of Santiago and thank him for our safe journey:

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Then down to the crypt, to kneel before the bones of James, son of Zebedee, Apostle.

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O Porriño to Cesantes to Pontevedra

10/6 – well, we’re not in Portugal anymore… How do we know? Rain, rain, and more rain. The rain in Spain falls mainly in Galicia, and our forecast is for rain every day until we reach Santiago. That said, it’s (usually) a nice, soft rain, and still warm (in the 60s). Our clothes and boots are starting to smell like wet dog again.

The other thing that happened when we crossed the border was a time zone change of one hour. Now, instead of the sun not coming up until 7:30, it doesn’t come up until 8:30! We early morning hikers will have to get used to walking in the dark…

There are more statues along our path today. Here’s a few I snapped when there was a break in the rain. That’s Saint James, with his big hat and walking staff. His token is a shell, and many pilgrims carry a shell tied to their backpacks:

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11 miles to Cesantes, a good night’s sleep, and another 12 to Pontevedra. We started out at 7am, and were soon beyond the streetlights of the town. It was so dark, we had to use our flashlight to see the path ahead. Here’s a shrine we saw on the side of a house in the early morning:

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We continue to see more pilgrims each day, some of whom just started at the Spanish border. One has to walk at least the last 100 kilometers to qualify for an official certificate of completion.

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Pontevedra has a church shaped like a seashell, with a (rather effeminate) statue of St. James on the altar. We must be getting close!

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