Hmmm - good start! My Cambelbak seal got trapped, stretched and didn't seal my water in the reservoir so I felt cold water running down my trousers which soaked me, left my camera drenched and not working and me without water! It was a fabulous day, glorious sun driving back the clouds and great views - such a shame as I missed some of the best scenic photos of the trip. My phone camera just isn't quite good enough for that sort of panorama.
It was still a lovely walk and I did manage to capture some wonderful cloud moods over the valley. There were a number of pilgrims who passed me to day or walked a little while in step just behind or in front. Most said hello or held a short conversation and we all regularly stopped to look at the views and photograph the blue skies as the clouds moved aside to reveal a glorious and hot day.
|The little covered area where a flask and teas and coffees are|
left for pilgrims - along with some bales to sit on and rest
|Decorated marker in Eiras near|
the little rest stop
The walk was simply beautiful and there seems to a be a lot of care taken towards pilgrims and their well being on this route. It is completely serviced by those who pop up from Laza (or so it seems) to keep it looking pretty and make sure there is some refreshment. All they ask for is a "donative" - a lovely idea but I was not thirsty and did not stop. The pilgrims I had passed were all partaking of some refreshment and of course this mean they would all pass me again further down the mountain.
|Rest area heading towards Laza - lovely place to stop and|
picnic for pilgrims
There were lots of nationalities out today - German, French, Spanish and myself... The French guys were very noisy chatters! They wished me Buen Camino but later when we passed again they asked what language I spoke. The main guy asked about French but I said mine was a bit out of date (rusty) and he said something weird like "I expect so" (?) They asked where I had stayed the night before and I explained that I walk the camino in sections and then M and I are currently in one location this time and stay together. The friend said that is a convenient and nodded and smiled like it was a good idea. From the main guy I got the impression he was not too impressed as though I was not walk-in the Camino "properly"... fast forward to later in this blog! I will leave you with that thought for a moment.....
|The most beautiful lifting of the clouds as the warmth of the sun evaporated them away from the valley|
|Squashed and dead procession|
|A very long and very much alive procession!|
|In case anyone is looking for a rests top in Laza - donations for staying here. Looks good.|
At the bottom of the mountain and on the last little off road bit of track before entering Laza there was another sign showing the equestrian route and the hiker's route.
I entered Laza with heavy legs from all the downhill. Muscles were tight and the heat was rising, but it was still very pleasant. I was glad that it was the end of the day's walk and M directed me in and waved from a vantage point where he had found a nice cafe for a cafe con leche.
There were more ads for places to stay on route and I thought that there would be an ayuntamiento for a sello but as with so many in this region it was no longer in use. Fortunately the bar provided a very nice one and was not far from the Albergue which actually looked very cool and inviting.
As Michael joined me for the last few metres to the cafe, there ahead was the disapproving Frenchman... well, he may not have been of course but anyway... there he was, with his friend - getting into a TAXI! Backpacks were being loaded into the boot and and yet they had given me the impression that they had walked every step since Seville on the Via de la Plata!
I am not one to judge and walking sections of the route is fine - I haven't been against skipping long road sections or busy highways... but this made me laugh. After their insinuations, it was hilarious to see them getting into the Taxi and I wish that I had been closer to say "hello" with a knowing look! I am sure that they were skipping the next "hard climb" (and it was to be a very hard climb and not glossed over by the guide book)... and then starting from the downhill to Ourense! Or maybe they were then starting again from Ourense and just walking the final 100km. Maybe it was a language thing, but maybe not.... maybe the way I am walking it had led them to wish they had thought of it! Regardless - it let to M and I joking that they couldn't be trusted!
Laza is known for the Fiestas held just before Lent. It is known as El Entroido and those who take part are known as peliqueiros - because they are men dressed in colourful costumes with hoods made of animal skins. They create mayhem and toss around coloured water and often flour. They "threaten" with long sticks like the old tax-collectors of the counts of Monterei in past times. The idea is to "escape" and have fun - it looks from the pictures a bit like SongKran! I can't say I would be keen to visit during this festival.
The full article and photos can be found in the link above... the photos are really nice as they show the costumes.
|Entering Laza - turn left at the building in the left of the|
photo - you can just see the shell marker on the wall
of the cream building.
Clang, clang, clang. Peliqueiros prance in the streets on Sunday morning and the distinctive sound of the large bells hanging from their waists tells everyone that the entroido has begun. These masqueraders, authority figures in Laza's Carnival, carry whips to hit bystanders as a reminder that it is time to play. The exact origin of their elaborate costume and mask is unknown. However, some locals say the peliqueiros' outfit and mannerisms derive from 16th-century tax collectors who carried whips and wore masks with grimacing smiles to intimidate the townspeople.
|The lovely albergue in the old part of town, just down from|
the really nice cafe and HUGE sello!
he morena, or cow masquerader, appears briefly during the ant-throwing episode. This character acts like a mad cow loose in the square, butting people, lifting women's skirts, and adding to the sense of chaos. Its carved wooden mask is attached to one end of a long pole that the masker manipulates with aggressive gestures as he makes his way through the crowd.
At dusk on Tuesday afternoon people gather in the main plaza for one of the last events of Laza's Carnival. The testamento do burro (testament of the donkey), presents a satirical and mocking recounting of scandalous events that occurred in Laza during the past year. Prepared and read by the testamenteiro, it is a rhymed verse written in the Galician form of Spanish. Using a fictional framework, the reader verbally "distributes" body parts of the donkey to the townspeople he is talking about. For example, a man who lost his pig from the back of his truck on the way to market received the eyes of the donkey so that he might keep better track of his animals.
|What appears to be the old courthouse or police station..|
some kind of government building anyway
After a welcome rest, I set off to walk out of the town but with a break from my backpack. The old town is amazing and very different from some of the other Spanish towns we have passed through. Lots of stone balconies and almost every house has goats under the living area. Some are let out to graze in communal areas, but many have the doors open to let in the air and have a barred gate across. The old ladies take them hay and they seem to be given things to climb on in these under-house barns. It feels very ancient, like when everyone used to live over their livestock - and which of course provides warmth to the house above in winter!
The big old courthouse or government building of sorts was beautiful. You could imagine officials coming out onto the balcony. I assumed it was some sort of court house or police station because there were tiny little slits of windows in the lower level - which were presumably holding cells.
|With my Audrey Hepburn glasses|
|Another accommodation option for Laza|