Last night was one of the classic albergue experiences. The place we stayed was pretty primitive, with a bunkroom, a dining room, three scruffy showers and two toilets. There was a family of long lean cats hanging around the porch. Ruined houses lay about on every side, some with goats clambering over the tumbledown walls to forage the remains of abandoned orchards. The tariff for the night was by donativo, or as we would say back home, koha. For the promise of what we thought the place was worth we were given a bed, a meal and breakfast.

The meal was cooked by the hospitalero, an American with a gammy leg, assisted by whoever wanted to lend a hand. We had lentils, a salad a potato and egg dish, bread and that delicious fresh raw sweet Spanish wine which simply does not bottle well, so cant be sampled except in Spain. Seated around the long table were us, an Australian, some Italians, Spaniards, French and Germans. Three young Hungarians had just spent 3 nights in a tent with no food and had, unsurprisingly, voracious appetites. And as we broke bread and swapped our stories and translated for each other a small community formed. Deep things were shared. We are all on the pilgrimage for a reason, and some of us know that reason at some depth. Some are just discovering it.

In our small beds we slept deeply. There were no snorers last night, and we all slept in. At 6:45 the hospitalero woke us by playing Monty Python´s Always Look On The Bright Side of Life and then we were up, packed and breakfasted, and then walking up into the mountain in driving rain. We reached the  highest point of the Camino, at almost 5,000 feet, the Cruz de Ferro, and placed there some small stones from our driveway back in Glenfinnan Place. The cairn around the cross is older than the pilgrimage. People have been depositing stones there for more than 2,000 years. Many bore messages, or prayer intentions. I found it an immensely holy and moving place.

We walked on and the rain increased. Following the highest point we seemed to do more climbing than I had anticipated.
Our new wet weather gear was put to a severe test, which mine by and large failed. Underneath my new jacket my clothes grew slowly sodden and it was only a minor comfort to see that Clemency´s expensive new EVent Macpac jacket fared only slightly better. We passed through some delightful mountain villages, stopping at Acebo for coffee and tortillas. In Spain a tortilla is an omelet sandwich, these ones with cheese. Huge, hot and extremely tasty they were just what our bodies were crying out for.
Soon after, I began to feel twinges in my left achilles. At Molinaseca (a pretty, tidy little river town) I went and consulted a farmacia who sold me anti inflamatory cream and pills (with no prescription!) and a support bandage. I walked on the last 7km of the day to Ponferrada in increasing discomfort. Perhaps the longest and hardest 7 km I have ever walked in my life.
We limped slowly into this albergue at  about 3 pm. It is large, modern and purpose built. I have showered and applied some of the anti inflammatory cream and put on the support bandage. I´ll see what tomorrow brings but it looks, at this point, like another rest day tomorrow. That shouldn´t be much of a hardship. This is a lovely and historic city with a lot to see and I can catch the bus to the points of interest.


Anonymous said…
<>, para que la pierna coja no se disloque sino que se sane.
- Hebreos 12.13

Buen camino,
Anonymous said…
woops, missed the beginning of the quote! "Hagan sendas derechas para sus pies, para que la pierna coja no se disloque sino que se sane.'
Elaine Dent said…
Pilgrimage Prayer of the Iona Community
"Bless to me, O God, the earth beneath my feet,
Bless to me, O God, the path whereon I go,
Bless to me, O God, the people whom I meet,
Today, tonight and tomorrow.
Wynston said…
How much of the "leakage" was rain as against perspiration?
Despite what they say one does get wet from perspiration when wearing Goretex.
As to your Achilles tendon:

May the healing of the Spirit be yours this day.
May the healing of the Son be yours this day.
May the healing of the Father be yours this day.
May the healing of all healing be yours this day.
VenDr said…
Most was perspiration. There is a whole philosophy of rain protection on the camino that is different from the way we kiwis do things. The best set up is a Spanish designed poncho(sorry cant remember the brand) which cost about 40 euros each. They are like wearing a big umbrella. Underneath you wear lightweight trousers and puttee things that come up to your knees.

And thanks for your prayers. Yours and those of others have been answered, praise the Lord.