Costa da Morte
May 5, 2015
9:10 AM to 6:40 PM
9 1/2 hours for 240 km
Vans move faster than feet. We took the Discover Galicia tour with our guide Martin and two other couples to the Death Coast of Spain. We had a fabulous informative sunny day!
We left our hotel at 9:10 AM in heavy traffic. Martin was twenty minutes late getting there. The streets of Santiago were not designed for two way car traffic. We could have walked to the outer edge of centre faster. It was a novel experience to get into a vehicle for the first time in thirty-five days.
Linda and Tony from England and Pauline and Willy from Scotland were on the tour with us. They had each begun their walk in Sarria, completing the last one hundred kilometres. Their accommodations and baggage carriage had been arranged by a tour company.
Some pilgrims, such as Susie and Kanji, continue walking all the way to Finisterra or Muxia. Both are the ocean end of the Camino. We do not have extra time to walk the 90 kilometres; so, we took this tour.
Martin, a Finn-Spaniard, started his tour company four years ago. He has three other guides with three vans and a Land Rover. He studied Political Science hub decided tourism was a more honest profession than politics. He is a great guide!
We stopped at the medieval bridge near Negreira. There was a beautiful new home built in granite in the old style, some political hand-shaking to get it constructed where it was.
We travelled through eucalyptus forests, that suck water out of the ground and destroy all other native vegetation, to Muxia. This was the end of the Camino filmed in The Way, an absolutely stunning huge rocky shore where there is a church called Our Lady of the Boat. Reportedly St. James was feeling discouraged that the Galicians were not listening to him. Our Lady appeared to him on a stone boat and encouraged him to continue preaching.
On December 25, 2013 lightning struck the stone church and fire destroyed the interior. On January 6, 2014, 28 metre waves, highest ever recorded knocked down the stone church walls. The church has been rebuilt and the interior is being refinished, but Martin said the locals are not at all happy as the interior is being furnished ‘IKEA’ style. The church was not open.
The power of the sea and amazing waves and many rocks make it easy to understand why so many shipwrecks have happened here. If I were walking to the ocean, I would walk to Muxia. The view is incredible. The 26 kilometre walk along the cliff face between Finisterra and Muxia is very beautiful but not well marked and dangerous.
We drove to Finisterra (Fisterra in Galician). It has more of a tourist look and feel. The cross that was there was struck by lightning a week ago and is no longer. Is there a theme here?? A message??
Martin told us there are three things pilgrims arriving here are expected to do: burn an article of clothing, often boots; argue with the local priest who does not like pilgrims or tourists, to try to get him to open the church door; and jump into the ocean as a form of baptism to begin a new life. In four years, Martin has never seen anyone do the last item. The water is not warm, but for we, Georgian Bay swimmers, probably doable.
Ezaru waterfalls descending over the O Pindo cliffs is not Niagara, but certainly beautiful without the tourist decor around it. The falls spill out of a large reservoir and are part of a hydroelectric project. Forty percent of Galician power is wind generated.
We had lunch at Dona Teresa’s at the end of white sand Cartona beach, the longest beach on the Galician coast. Our pilgrim meals were delicious. I had seafood stuffed mushrooms, breaded hake, and flan cheesecake with bread, wine and water, of course. Included in our tour.
We visited the two longest corn cribs in Galicia. In the late nineteenth century, for twenty-seven years, two parishes tried to outdo each other, continuously making their crib bigger. Finally they decided they could each have the same size. The Galician storage crib is everywhere in Galicia. Souvenir stands sell models of it. One village we walked through had more cribs than any other structure. Some are decorative but most are used as some kind of storage. The oldest were made of wood, many of red brick and as we approached Santiago, most were of granite.
Martin took us to a lovely white sand beach at Lira. Worried about getting sand in my blisters, I did not take my shoes off and frolick in the ocean as Margaret did. I was envious. It was heavenly to walk on the beach, but yes, it was windy and cool, but sunny. Martin says that even in summer the beaches here are quite deserted as are the villages. This is the cheapest place in Spain to buy a home! We think Margaret should buy one here and we could visit!
We travelled along the Ria de Muros estuary to a Benedictine monastery where a small hotel had taken over the monk’s residence. The hotel has not been used for a year, but it is apparently a convenient expense to launder money. The small church and graveyard are still in use. The river and cascades race alongside. This would make a great retreat, well hidden from the road but on what was once a Roman road to Santiago.
It was a day of great beauty and lovely surprises. We ended it in the charming company of Jim and Marie visiting tapas bars in Santiago and staying up past ten, way past my bedtime!