Vega de Valcarce

Sitting in the municipal Albergue  in Ponferrada I knew I was probably in deep trouble. My achilles tendons had given me trouble before, and the healing period was measured with a calendar, not a clock. I sat at dinner with a Spanish woman and her English husband. I talked about my symptoms and she said to her husband in Spanish "Tendonitis. Well! His camino is over." I didn´t let on that I understood but my heart sank. She was telling the truth.

After dinner I limped the 20 metres to the parish church for evening prayers. There were about 20 people there and I was the only man. The women included two religious sisters from Waikanae and the young Spanish hospitalera who led the service. After a fairly simple little liturgy a candle was passed and everyone who held it offered a prayer. When it was Clemency´s turn she asked everyone present to come and gather around me, which they did. Clemency prayed a simple prayer for healing and the other women present laid their hands on me. I can´t say that I felt anything at the time, but I did notice that my ears were ringing. I also noticed that I walked a little easier back to the albergue. At 1.00 am I woke and my leg felt a lot better. At 8.00 we packed up, resolving to spend the day in this beautiful town and found a cafe  which sold NZ style coffee and muffins in which to pass a little time until we could go and see the famous castle at 11.00 am. I felt so good we started walking, thinking that with luck I might make it to the next albergue 2.5 km away.

We strolled on at a gentle pace, past large affluent looking houses and through vineyards. We passed the first albergue and then the second. Other pilgrims passed us by the score, but still we tottered on, and by 2.00 we had covered almost 18 km.

We stopped for the night at Cacabelos, in an albergue consisting of tiny 2 bed cells built around the back of a church. We found a supermercato and bought food and had a great night´s sleep. This morning we set out for the most pleasant day of the Camino so far.

We walked gently uphill through a cool morning to the stunningly beautiful town of Villafranca. Set on a river, with a cathedral and a castle, Villafranca outshines all the other Spanish cities we have seen. Imagine a place with the quaint charm of  a pristine English village, the sophistication of a Paris boulevard, and the historic interest that comes from being sited there for more centuries than anyone can tell and you will just about have it. It´s a place I would love to return to for a holiday sometime. We walked through it and into the mountains.

Mountain scenery has a certain quality to it, no matter where in the world it is found. There is clear air and winding roads. Here there were forests and vineyards and delightful villages every 2 or 3 km. The figs were fewer, replaced by edible chestnuts and oaks and poplars. We strolled on, stopping for lunch at a cafe which sold us a wonderful tomato and capsicum soup and fairtrade coffee. We walked about 25 km before I began to feel my achilles again, and stopped here, in one of the picture postcard villages perched on the opposite side of the valley to the Saracen castle.

It has been a simply glorious day. The Camino has been teaching us, as it always does. We have had to slow down and accept the disciplines imposed by terrain and distance. We have begun to form our new Camino family - those kindred spirits who walk at a similar pace to us and who tend to chose the same sorts of places to sleep. We will walk on tomorrow under blue skies and in bright cool air. God is good.


Elaine Dent said…
You encourage us through your writing. Praise for healing, for circles who pray for us, for like-minded pilgrims and for the not-so-gentle invitation to walk slowly. You are walking by grace in grace. Blessings on tomorrow.
Wynston said…
He is indeed! Praise the Lord!
NIE said…
Thanks be to God for all He gives!
Much love to you both xx30
Anonymous said…
Kelvin I'm loving these daily accounts of your camino experiences - you portray such evocative images of the journey and landscape. Going gently seems a very good idea (no choice - you're probably saying!). May the Lord continue to uphold you both, strengthening those tendons and feet and giving you His travelling mercies and miracles every day and every minute. Lots of love to you both and give a big hug to my dear sister. Bisset.
Anonymous said…
thank you for sharing your experience through writing. Walk gently and healing continue