Day 9/Sept 20 El Camino/ Ponferrada to Villafranca de Bierzo

We gave buen Camino hugs to Mary, Chris and Jonathan this morning at 7:30 as they left Ponferrada. I felt some sadness not leaving on the path as well but I also feel content and in the right place staying with Di. Maybe there is another Camino in my future. Either way, all is well. Di is improving. She is on top of the pain and the swelling is going down. We sat and had tea and now went for a short walk to chocolate croissants and fresh squeezed orange juice, ‘Zumo, fresh.’

We have been calculating and making a new plan. We have walked about 55 miles so far and rose to the highest peak at about 5,000 ft and the iconic Cruz de Ferro. That is a third of our journey. I have looked ahead at the coming elevations and that will not be possible for Di with too many ascents and descents at high elevation. Di feels she would like to try the last 35 mikes into Santiago (and courier her pack) which has a few up and down but at a relatively level elevation. That would give us over half of the journey. It would be about a week out and I think she could be strong enough to do it or part of a day and taxi part.

Our new plan includes enjoying each day with each new location as we taxi forward. Walking on level surfaces we can site see, sit at cafes, read and enjoy in a different way.

Part 2

Di and I arrived at our hotel in Villafranca de Bierzo and as we were dropped off by the taxi at our hotel, Bev and Rob from Vancouver were waving at us and calling our names from the cafe next door. A welcome treat. After checking in Di and I had three hours with them with vino blanco, tapas and then paella. Lots of sharing of life stories. A Wonderful couple. Such excitement after meeting only two days ago. Mary, Chris and Jonathan arrived about 4:00 tired and hungry. The heat had returned, not bad in town but hot on the trail. Mary has a much worse blister and Chris is encountering some as well. The three did 15 miles today.

I took a walk around town here and found the correct adapter and some fruit. My Spanish is mucho limited but I am doing well with what I have. I came back and told Di, let’s stay here for a week and meet up wth the others later. Her’s was an instant yes but it was a fantasy, we will stay with the group.

You will be getting very different posts going forward. The other three declared needing a rest as well. So we are taking a taxi late morning to O’cebreiro. An important place they want to see with the oldest church associated with the pilgrim way is in this hamlet. The church marks the final resting place of Don Sampedro. 1929-1989. A priest who restored and furthered the Camino and adjoining hostel with a monastic settlement from the 11th century and Queen Isabella stayed here in 1486 on her own personal pilgrimage. It is hard to find a bed but our hosteler helped and found 5 beds.

I did promise more on Cruz de Ferro. I haven’t forgotten but again it will have to wait. I would like to say it well and the day gets so full it is hard to find the time for reflection.

It is 8 pm and the city is just coming to life in the cafe’. I am in my bed. Di is in her’s reading and the other three went to mass at the monastery next door. They also have one at 8 am which would be better for me. We shall see.

Photos: Di is getting her pilgrimage out of a book, our room across from the castle in Ponferrada, the square in Bierzo.

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