Two days of heavy rain, interrupted by occasional periods of light rain. There have been rumours of the sun shining in places along the Camino. The countryside is absolutely stunning when the sun does come out, but we have seen very little of it. No wonder Galicia is so green.
After the two 30-plus kilometre days, we took a "rest" day of about 20 km from Samos to Barbadelo, in order to give our knees and feet a bit of a break. I have to say that I am now glad I wasn't a big athlete in my youth. It means that I don't have extensive wear and tear on my joints the way John and Constantine have from skiing, running, and basketball. While they wear their knee braces and pop their ibuprofens and Tylenols, my finely honed, chess and debate-team body is holding up very well!
The people along the way truly are a big part of the experience. Several days ago, back in Molinaseca, we encountered Felipe harvesting grapes in his vineyard. He is in his 70s, but stays active in the fields and keeps a positive and generous attitude toward life. His one regret is that, while he has lived on the Camino his entire life, he has never undertaken the pilgrimage to Santiago. He gave us bunches of freshly cut grapes and encouraged us to fill a bag with more. We tried to pay him, but he refused – "just pray for me when you get to Santiago," he said.
There are so many along the Camino who, like Felipe, give fruit, cookies, water and directions to the pilgrims; they have no expectation or desire for anything but goodwill.
There are exceptions to Felipe, however. Perhaps the most famous, or infamous, is "the crepe lady of Fonfria." Fonfria is a small village between Cebreiro and Triacastela. Knowing that many pilgrims have experienced the goodwill of people like Felipe, the lady of Fonfria steps into your path as you pass her house. She carries freshly made crepes and starts handing them out to passing pilgrims. She even offers to put sugar on them "for more energy for the day's walk," she adds with a big smile. Once the pilgrims finish eating them, however, she immediately asks for payment. The classic "bait and switch" is expertly executed – so watch out for her. I have no problem with people trying to make a buck and there are plenty of merchants, and even some people begging, along the way, but at least they are upfront about it.
I am thrilled to announce that thanks to the incredible generosity of so many sponsors and donors, we have raised over $142,000 toward our goal of $150,000. Remember, each of the team members, including me, are covering all our own expenses, so 100 per cent of your donation will go to Prostate Cancer Canada. Please become a virtual pilgrim by helping us get to our goal at www.prostatecancer.ca/roccorossi. No bait and switch, just in-your-face asking.
Rocco Rossi is the CEO of Prostate Cancer Canada. He will be blogging as the Pilgrimage for Progress on Prostate Cancer proceeds and you can follow that blog at tgam.ca/giving.