Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Day 27

Wednesday October 13, 2010
Day 27 on the Camino de Santiago de Compostela
Villafranca del Bierzo to Vega de Valcarce
Dear Blog Readers,
Today is only an 18 kms walk, so get a later start after the usual breakfast, leaving after 9 a.m..  The sun is showing promise and the weather forecast is for a few clouds and sunny - a lot different from one week ago, so I´m thankful for small mercies - no rain.  Just outside of Villafranca the Camino breaks into 3 routes.  The first is recommended for ‘fit’ hikers only and is on the left - ha, since neither Rick nor I are one of those that route is ruled out, even though it is called the ‘Dragon’ and snakes up and down mountains and through forests offering the best views of the valley below.  The second route goes right, also offers views but it has three mountains to hike up before it joins the third route 10 kms up the valley.  We must climb El O´Cebiero tomorrow and since it is the highest direct hike up on the Camino, I vote to take route three, straight ahead, which follows a secondary road to the hamlet where we’ll spend the night.
Most of the novels I read on the Camino talk about this route being dangerous as it travels along the roadway with no shoulders for pilgrims.  However, since the last book, the Spanish Government has opened up much of the north by building a super highways - so commercial trucks and most of the traffic now use the freeway and this secondary road is less used.
The Camino stays along the road with a lovely swift flowing river below.  This helps to dull the noise of the odd traffic using the secondary road.  The trek goes through several hamlets - some so small if you blink you miss it - however to get to one hamlet, the road meanders through a forest of giant chestnut trees, now bursting at the seams - prickly burrs and fallen leaves blanket the trail.  Just pass the chestnut forest, there is a birch forest, also with giant trees being harvested - logs line the Camino and soon the track passes the mill,where they are taking care of tree business.
The sun is up and hot, my several layers of warmer clothes are removed.  Up overhead the sky is so blue, it is like a Saskatchewan sky - a plane high overhead looks like a silver bullet set on slow motion mode - it is a great moment on the Camino.
Soon the hamlet comes into view - however before we see the Casa Rural hotel, where we are to spend the night, my whole vista is filled with the highest, bridge I have ever seen - this is the highway spanning two mountains, with the hamlet in the valley below.  You can hear the far off clump-clump sounds of trucks driving overhead along the super highway.  You will have to see a photo of this bridge to believe it - I cannot even guess how high up it is.  
Like all Casas Rural - the key is somewhere else as the owners don’t live in the house.  Key for this one is at the ‘panaderia’ the bread shop across the road, in the lower level of a beautiful house.  We learn the owners live above the bread shop, when we collect the key and have a sandwich for lunch.  Head for the house to play catch up on the laundry.  There is actually a washing machine to use - no dryer - but clothes lines are strung across the side yard.  The pilgrims, still on the road,  wave as they go by while I hang socks.  I take photos of the inside of the Casa Rural and the bridge overhead.
Later, the lady at the bread shop, where I´m using internet to blog, says the bridge is 80 metres high.  Also learn we are sharing the house with Lulu and Joan.  The Casa has a kitchen but we are not allowed to use it, so will wait for the ladies and head off to dinner in the center of the hamlet.
Trek 18 kms today - about 180 kms to get to Santiago.
Blessings from the Camino,
My personal thoughts today - Trekking today seemed so easy compared to my first days on the Camino.  My body and mind are now used to the routine, from the usual breakfasts to the end of day laundry and blogging.  This daily routine is not taxing on my body, so leaves my mind free to travel inwards and think about my life, family and friends.  What a wonderful gift to my soul.


  1. Hi... You are almost there... See you in 10 days

  2. Hi Yasmin,
    I haven't popped into internet for some time and have just read you latest reports. I'm actually AMAZED at your GREAT ACHIEVEMENT to have nose-dived down the steepest down-slope towards Molinaseca and that in the rain, over tricky stones and pebbles which turn the whole slope into an ice rink. UNBELIEVABLE!!!It is not only the steepest down-slope, but also the most solitary place, as there is no hamlet, no hut, no lean-to and there are almost no pilgrims going down there (they usually skip this stage)...CONGRATULATIONS!!! and all that summing up about 50 kms!! My God, you must be very strong by now, what I deduce from your following-day report! Again, many most sincere CONGRATS!!!
    The Camino has made a real pilgrim of you.
    As to the church of Villafranca, I'll copy you something from my 2008 report:
    Villafranca del Bierzo, an unforgettable mountain village built of ancient stone and well kept up with its church of Santiago (12-13th Ce.) which made a deep impression on me because of its Crucifix and the simplicity of pure stone. There, in the Middle Ages, the Camino came to an end for the sick and crippled. It was there and then that –since the 15th Ce., according to a papal bull (Calixto III), they got their Compostela and the plenary leniency ('indulgence') of the Saint Apostle when they passed through the ‘Portico of Forgiveness’. St. Francis of Assis passed through Villafranca on his pilgrimage.

    My best wishes for your Camino and may Santiago keep his protecting wand over you and God bless you,

  3. Yasmin . . . we have followed your blog with excitement, enthusiasm, wishes for your health + safety . . . and most importantly amazement and awe!! This journey is inspiration for all of us . . . and demonstrates that we can tackle what seem to be unreachable goals and achieve them . . . with a lot of determination, strength, belief and not giving up. Perhaps the journey is finding out for each of us - what those hidden strengths are.

    You will be in our thoughts as your journey winds towards its end.

    The Agur Family - xoxo

  4. Hey, you have not posted in 2 days, is everything OK?

  5. Hi Yasmin,
    You've not popped into your blog for three days now and this is QUITE worrying, as you're supposed to climb the O'Cebreiro by now. IS EVERYTHING O.K.??????
    Please, don't overdo it, it won't pay in the end and your aim is Santiago and not "how-to-get -there-the-quickest-way"...TAKE YOUR TIME, it's only ONCE that you'll have the chance the walk this Camino: enjoy every step, but don't run.
    I'm praying for your safe arrival.
    Expecting your blog,
    God bless you,

  6. Message for Tony from Yas. I spoke with them both this morning. She is "doing great" but not able to post her blog directly from Spain. Richa will be adding to her blog site this weekend for her, from copy emailed by Yas.
    They are in a lovely little B&B in the mountains, and both feeling blessed for so few aches and pains that many other have been experiencing.
    Santiago is quite close now!

  7. Thanks for the update Judy. We are a family of worriers but Yasie is some WARRIOR isn't she!

  8. To Tony: Your sister is an amazing woman!!

  9. To Judy: Yasie is an amazing woman indeed. She has courage, determination and a strength that we all admire.

  10. Hi Yaz..... love reading about your trek!!!! I feel like I'm there with you the lazy way!!! See you soon.... YOU GO GIRL!!!!!!

  11. Ursula, are you still checking my blog - I'm rewriting them, fixing typos and spelling plus adding a personal thought or thoughts at the end. If you are still monitoring the blog, I would like to chat with you, can you send me an email at (YASIE 1 @ SHAW.CA) all lower case letter with number one.