23 June Barbadelo to Gonzar

Stretching done, banana eaten, teeth cleaned and facing the correct way, at 0615 I begin my journey for the day.

A crescent moon and Venus(?) are set high in a cloudless sky brightly torching my way for me. The surrounding trees, still only dark silhouettes are bursting with the noise of the dawn chorus. Some of the birdsong I recognise as Blackbirds, Robins, Chaffinches and Sparrows, others are new to me, or at least I can’t put a name to them.

I am soon breathing heavily as I lean into my first hill of the day which takes me into what appears to be ancient woodland. The sun is fighting to claim the day from the night as it tries to melt away the mist of dark-time.

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I walk into time tunnel of trees where I half expect to exit into another world inhabited by fairies, pixies and unicorns.

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Nearly an hour later the sun is still trying to burn away the most and I am still climbing upwards.

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Phot early morning sun in the mist

Then I come across this…………………………….

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and accept the invitation to have a cup of coffee here……………..

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……………. and I watch Buddhist prayer flags swaying to and fro in a wind that forever carries the prayers to where they need to be heard……….

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This wayside marker suggests that I have walked something in the region of 700 kilometres.

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Now, for your pleasure only Boys and Girls, Ladies and Gentlemen I present you with the joy of where I walk today.

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About 9 o’clock I happen across Petra and Maralene (Maralena?) from a day or two ago and we share a coffee together. I take the opportunity to have an overdue toe-wiggle. Actually to be more accurate I should say a nine-toe-wiggle because my battered and bruised toe doesn’t want to play with the other nine. I think it is shy because it can’t bend anymore – at least he ( or she) is not painful as he (she) was.

If you walk along any beach shore anywhere in the world you will most likely see some of the flotsam and jetsam of other people, places and events since past. Here, on this Camino it is the same, but, this time the flotsam and jetsam is the deliberate placement of dreams, prayers, memories, reminders of loss, reminders of love now out of reach physically, hope for the future and the desire for forgiveness. Each of those things is carried in a stone, or in a written note, and, in the faces of people I cannot name.

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I wonder if I was the only person today who was struck with the simplicity and hardness of the life this old woman lives and has perhaps lived to get to this stage today of tending a meagre vegetable crop in a tiny ploy of land. You can’t see him but behind those trees was an equally old man knocking some sort of fruit out of the lower branches of those trees with a stick he could barely lift, let alone swing hard enough to cause the fruits to fall.

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Be honest now, at first glance, do you like I did, think this is a plastic plant?

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The next photograph is a selfish one for me. As I walked through this wooded area I heard the most beautiful birdsong I have ever heard. I know not what creature made that sound, but I do know the last time I heard anything so wonderful and moving was when I heard the first cries cries of my newborn son and daughter Mark and Nicole.

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Part of today allowed me to walk through and alongside meadows of yellow framed with a pale blue, sunlit sky.

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Every now and then, at the corner of walled fields small bunches of fragile-looking, daisy-like flowers were dancing in the breeze.

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Eventually I approach the town of Portamarin over this bridge ( by the way, the steps you can see at the other side were knee-tremblers).

For a few seconds, as I cross the bridge, the breeze stops. I catch the sun reflected in the water…………………..

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………… and the opposite bank in duplicate.

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In the town itself I stop only to eat some bread and cheese before moving on. Again, as yesterday, I am not ready to stop walking yet. But soon wish I did.

The next stopping place place is about 5 miles away and I had forgotten the time, so, ended up walking in the open, blistering heat for about two hours.

I am very lucky to get the last bed here for the night. I am in a public Albergue again but to be honest, it is dreadful.

To round things off, 30 minutes after I get my bed the heavens open up and we have the worst thunder storm I have experienced for years.

I order and eat my dinner in the dark. I have Plato Número 4 and consume about 3000 calories in one go.

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Then I try to take a photograph of a thunder storm that is ripping this place apart.

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Steps today 36798

Bye for now folks. Please excuse any typos again!

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