Monte do Gozo — Mount of Joy (4.8 km/ 9.76 miles)

Sunrise from my room at Torre do Branca.
Sunrise from my room at Torre do Branca.

 

A typical pathway on this last long day of walking.
A typical pathway on this last long day of walking.

We had been warned that today’s w

alk, which would take us up Mount Gozo (The Mount of Joy, the spot where pilgrims would catch their first glimpse of Santiago and the Cathedral) would be a difficult walk. Kris suggested that we start a half an hour earlier than in previous days, so we headed out for our first departure point around 8:40.

The day was bright and sunny, and their were scores of pilgrims on the paths, and yes, many of the paths had very steep, uphill climbs. Oddly enough, our first checkpoint of the day was the spot where we had eaten lunch the day before so we felt right at home. Our walk today would also take us near the airport and we discovered some of the landing lights on the other side of a fence on our path; within a few minutes we heard the roar of a flight taking off. “I’m glad we don’t have to walk by here for long,” Kris said.

Francisco, our bus driver, was required by law to rest for the day, and so Ivan took care of us today. He flashed a big smile and seemed enthusiastic about driving us to our location. I told Paola, “Doesn’t he look like he belongs in a rock band?” “Yes,” she said.

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Our first encounter with pilgrims on horseback.

At one point, we ran into a group of pilgrims traveling on horseback; a first for any of us. One of their group tended to the horses while the rest stopped in a cafe for a bathroom break or to get a snack.

We also passed by a lovely stream with a small waterfall. The sound and the sight of the water rushing over the rocks lifted our spirits and we braced ourselves for the second checkpoint, which we knew meant the challenging stretch between checkpoints two and three.

A small waterfall on our route today.
A small waterfall on our route today.

Right away, our path moved uphill in a steep fashion, but very quickly, the path would level out, only to change into a steep climb. The amazing thing was that for both Kris and myself the climb was strenuous but not exhausting. We seemed to have been blessed with a new boost of energy for our summit of Mount Gozo. The path twisted and turned; went uphill and downhill as well as level stretches. We even passed by a local TV station’s headquarters.

After many ups and downs, literally, I could see Ignacio in his bright yellow shirt, and I knew that we had finished our walking for the day.

We rested for a bit and waited for the arrival of Lorel and Cheryl. I walked into the small chapel of San Marco that was on the site. A bit later, a group of Irish Pilgrims arrived and they spontaneously broke into the Salve Regina; it was the high point of my day.

Chapel of San Marco on Mt. Gozo.
Chapel of San Marco on Mt. Gozo.

Ignacio pointed out the monument to St. John Paul II, to commemorate his walking this last portion of the Camino when he visited Spain in 1993. On the one side of the monument is a lovely bronze panel commemorating St. Francis of Assisi as a Pilgrim to Santiago.

Before lunch, we rode the bus to the part of Mt. Gozo where there are two bronze statues of pilgrims, the ones that you see in the film, “The Way,” and we caught our first glimpse of Santiago and the Shrine. After a few photo shoots with Ignacio, we headed to lunch at a very nice restaurant.

Pilgrim Statues on Mt. Gozo. From this point one can catch his/her first glimpse of Santiago.
Pilgrim Statues on Mt. Gozo. From this point one can catch his/her first glimpse of Santiago.

We returned to our lodgings to shower, rest, and in my case, to wash a few items in the sink and find a sunny spot to dry them. Our day concluded with a demonstration of how to make a Spanish Omelette, by the head cook at Torre da Blanca. We sampled the Tortilla, as it is called, for our dinner this evening.

Tomorrow, we walk the last 3 miles to the Shrine of St. James and join the throngs of Pilgrims for the noon Pilgrim’s Mass. I know that I will be impressed and a bit overwhelmed.

The Shrine of St. James (telphoto view) from Mt. Gozo.
The Shrine of St. James (telphoto view) from Mt. Gozo.

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