Our third week on the Camino was a little unusual because we split up for health reasons. I took the bus to Ponferrada and stayed in a hotel for three days, hoping the tendinitis in my feet would have a chance to heal. Mostly, I read The Fellowship of the Ring and watched a silly Spanish game show called “Ahora Caigo”. So the first half of the third week, in terms of Camino experience, belongs to Ian.
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Ian’s viewpoint: It felt weird to be walking by myself, but I quickly got used to it. One of the first things I did was pick up a rock for Cruz Ferro. It was larger than average, so it maybe it would count for both my mom and me.
I met a British woman named Philippa. We talked about the Camino and how it’s an allegory for life. I really like having a reason to talk to all sorts of people about their lives and the things they hold sacred.
I left Rabanal del Camino, where I had spent the night, and started the climb up to Foncebadón. It was pretty steep and rocky. It was also flooded and muddy close to Rabanal, so the going was tougher. In Foncebadón, I saw one person (not including pilgrims) and no fewer than five cats. Honestly, this place is Cat Town.
As I climbed up to Cruz Ferro, I saw some beautiful mountain views, one all the way back across the Meseta.
When I finally arrived at the cross, and dropped my rock at the foot of the pillar, I thought of some really nice symbolism to go along with leaving the rock. Learn from the past, yes, but it’s time to let go, lighten my load, and move forward without looking back. It was a really nice experience.
I met a very nice couple from California, Stephen and Jennifer, and we ended up walking together. I also met Dorothea, an 80-year-old Irish woman who was an inspiration to me.
I stayed the night in a really nice albergue in El Acebo. The following morning, I spent a little time by myself looking out from the albergue’s balcony. It was a nice time to reflect. Then I continued down the mountain.
The whole area here is really pretty – there were great views of the mountains and valleys nearby, there were many varieties of small but beautiful flowers, and there was a tiny grove of large chestnut trees.
I finally reached old town Ponferrada and I saw Mom waiting for me as planned.
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Lynette’s viewpoint: The next few days were rest days. One of the days, we spent touring the Castillo de los Templarios, which was begun in the 12th century and was built on an old Roman fort, which was built on an old Celtic fort, which was probably built on some other earlier structure. The castle was renovated and added to during the 15th and 16th centuries. But then it fell into somewhat of a ruin.
At the castle, they have the Templum Libri, a collection of books and facsimiles of manuscripts, mostly related to the Templars, that is open to anyone who wants to do research. The facsimiles include illuminated manuscripts and old maps.
On Sunday, we went to church and then pretty much laid around for the rest of the day. It was nice to relax.
And then it was back to trekking. Much of the trail ran through vineyards. Because of recent rain, there were some pretty muddy stretches. In fact, at times there were little streams running through the middle of the trail.
We came to Villafranca del Bierzo, a pretty little town nestled among the hills. Our albergue was right next to the Iglesia de Santiago, where one can find the Puerta del Perdón, or Door of Forgiveness. In the olden days, pilgrims who were unable to complete the journey to Santiago because of injury or illness could pass through this door and their pilgrimage would be considered complete.
We ended the third week in the town of Trabadelo. The road there was very steep and very rocky, both up and down. There was an easier option, but it was along the highway and we wanted to avoid the noise and smell of traffic. So we took the more scenic, but more difficult route, Camino Duro (meaning Hard Road, which it was).
A very kind woman named Ula saw me struggling to get down the hill and offered to carry my backpack. It’s people like her who help make the Camino such a rewarding experience.
And so our third week ended on a positive note.