And the cellular memory of Day 1 kicked back in. It was to be a day merciless ascents. The irony of these kinds of days is that the views are spectacular and yet, I am breathing so hard, sweating so intensely, gageing each step and playing whatever mind games that will keep me sane for the next 7 hours of this, that I often find myself critical of not enjoying it more. So between the rest, I would look out into the cold hanging mist now hovering at my level and flow some appreciation.

The great thing was that my extra slow pace on this grueling day allowed Mark and Barbara to catch up after a week. We all stumbled into a weathered miedeval pub in the mountains at a remarkable village named O´Cebreiro and devoured some local food from the newly entered province of Galicia for lunch. I had a very hot stew of pork ribs and carrots and felt completely confident I could find something to do for a living and stay here rather than continue climbing.

I guzzled some agua con gas at the pub and caught a glimpse at a flat screen TV that was on the wall. Images of Michael Jackson were flashing and the word muerte was there in the banner. Muerte, muerte? Then when I saw a picture of an ambulance I determined what muerte meant. Not long after, there was a clip of Farrah Fawcett as well – again the word – muerte.

I felt a renewed since of appreciation for my life and suddenly didn´t care so much that I had hours of more climbing. Still slow but all the while thinking of the many remarkable things I have to be grateful for, I finally reached the stopping point at Fonfria in the early evening.

High in the mountains with the aroma of fresh, moist cow pies every where you turned, I checked into the extremely crowded alburgue. With only a few makeshift spaces left to sleep, Mark asked if I wanted to pay a bit more and see about getting a double room that was available.
We both jumped at the chance and I loved having a private shower after that day.

With nothing else in town, we sat at long tables and ate family style; vegetable soup, and hunks of meat and clumps of potatoes – yes, you read right hunks and clumps, making me wonder if they slaughtered those cows right out back. The Galecian wine tasted like vinegar but the local dessert, a torte made of nuts, powdered sugar and spices was delicious.

Free from a night of “auditorium” snoring, I savored the chance to sleep well but my brain had other plans and I was an insomniac for most of the night. The hunks and clumps probably contributed for there was also a bit of heartburn starting and I propped my pillow and sleeping bag up behind me to help ease the discomfort. Still, only catching minutes of sleep at a time, it was a long lingering – and, oh yeah, with all those cow pies – a muy fragrante night.