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.