Day 33 – Gontán to Vilalba

6/12/17 – 25.4km/15.8mi from Gontán to Vilalba, with smooth rolling hills.

The altitude here in Galicia means that every day, we start off in a cloud of fog. Today’s cloud of fog was so dense, it actually felt like rain, and that means I got to break out “Big Pink,” my ridiculous poncho, again. But, we did add a new member, Javi, to the team. He’s from Madrid, which means David and I have some professional help with translation moving forward! We had a great stop at a beautiful Albergue O Xistral, where we had a delicious breakfast and David and I played a quick game of chess. Things dried up after a couple hours, and again we walked half the time on quiet forest paths or along country roads until we reached the lovely city of Vilalba.

While I don’t have much to cover on the hike, I did want to talk about the strength, resilience, and beauty of the nature all around us as we do this daily hiking. I’ve already mentioned the hydrangeas and the eucalyptus forests, but there’s so much more. Each morning there is a sweet symphony of birds chirping all around. There are spiderwebs all over the tops of various bushes, carefully weaved overnight. We literally walk through morning mist, and each of those spiderwebs is covered in dew. It’s beautiful. The sun rises behind us and burns off that mist to reveal either miles of beautiful blue Spanish coastline during our first few weeks or, now, verdant green rolling hills and farms. We see long winding paths that thousands of peregrinos have trudged through, but they are all lined with beautiful green ferns and gorgeous purple foxglove. The sweet smell of wild peppermint and jasmine sometimes wafts by. Sometimes you hear the buzz of beehives if you’re walking quietly enough. And every now and then, a thorny plant sticks out into the path and dares you to touch it.

In countless fields, herds of cows or sheep munch away at grass, living as happy an existence as livestock can lead. Lone horses idle in fields, and the friendly ones walk over to us to say hello and hopefully get a snack. On the coast, the loud calls of seagulls float through the air. We sometimes pass stone walls that have been reclaimed by thick and brilliantly green moss. We pass abandoned houses that have been reclaimed by Mother Nature. Those that still have roofs are also covered with that thick moss. We peer into the houses’ broken stone windows and see a maze of resilient green plants who took back these things that we humans constructed above them. On a rainy day, armies of snails and slugs are crawling across the paths, hoping to reach safety before the sun dries them up. And in so many gardens and cities, carefully pruned Spanish Plane Trees look like works of art.

And after the day’s hike, I try to find a green space to do some yoga, and see something truly special. Each time I do a Chaturanga Dandasana, my face approaches the grass and I see a medley of diverse plants, dozens of tiny flowers, and hundreds of minuscule insects that every day on this trek, we just walk past without a second thought. Those of us living in concrete jungles miss so much of the majesty of this world, and I thank my lucky stars that I have the chance to be here and have the opportunity to observe these things.