Abandoned Cities, Saint James’ Way and More Strange Short Men

Still in Galicia, my next two days went as follows:
The next morning I woke up to a ruckus of voices down below in the kitchen. When I came down the stairs to investigate, I was greeted with some cheese cake and a fluffy dog named Chispita. As I stood against the counter wolfing down my breakfast of champions, more family entered the stone house. As a foreigner in Spain, I am painfully aware of when someone new enters the room because this means I will have to meet them. And that means I will have to kiss them. I have to mentally prepare myself every time. Which cheek will they go for? Should I dive in or should I let them come to me? I was soon swarmed by a group of stout men, each one of them grabbing my cheeks and shouting “La chica Americana!” I felt like Snow White with the seven dwarves.
Next we all marched into Portomarin, a town nearby the village. Portomarin is known for its narrow escape from nature a few years back. A reservoir flooded into the river of Mino which then flooded the entire city. The people saved the Romanesque San Pedro church stone by stone. You can still see the numbers on each stone. Driving on the bridge over the Mino, the ruins of the old city can be seen peaking out of the water.
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That night, we went to Alvaro’s and had good Spanish dinner. Lots of pork. Alvaro’s wife never sat down, always asking if anyone wanted more or just giving more to them anyway. It was very sad to say goodbye to those two when we left for the evening. Alvaro grabbed my face one last time to wish me “Un buen viaje,” meaning a good trip.
The next morning, we were off to Madrid. On the way we stopped by O Cebreiro, a refuge for the pilgrims hiking the Saint James Way. Galicia is famous for being the final destination of the Saint James pilgrimage.
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Hikers from all over trek to reach the city of Santiago Compostela where Saint James is buried. There is a Portuguese route and a French route as well. O Cebreiro was first founded by the Celts before the Romans took over. As you walk through this little village you can hear Celtic music playing, luring the tourists into the gift shops. Pilar visits the church of O Cebreiro once a year to light a candle at the alter of Santa Maria. I think it’s a nice tradition.
I have to say that Galicia is my favorite destination so far. Well worth the awkward kissing.

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