Saturday, November 7 – Day 57
The hotel really wasn’t that great. The bed was too hard and I kept waking up in pain. The breakfast was slightly redemptive, but it wasn’t worth the money at all.
I got on my way at 8:20. I think I did over-do it a little yesterday, but mostly because of all of the asphalt. My feet started hurting kind of early. I don’t think I’ll be able to make it to Santiago a day earlier like I had hoped.
It was very foggy. There was a long climb up the hill to the next little village, and it kept getting more and more foggy.
I got into Villafranca sometime after 10, and the whole town was still shrouded in fog. There is a convent there, and I think it’s active, because it’s not open to the public at all. It sure looked cool and mysterious in the fog.
I found the center of town, and I knew I had to cross the river, which was just one street away. I started walking toward it, when an old man in a car stopped and honked at me, to tell me the camino went other other way down the street. So I thanked him, then had to walk the way he told me, because he was watching. The last time I tried to ignore a little old man he personally walked me about 10 blocks to make sure I was going the way he wanted me to. Sure enough, the camino made a big U turn and I had to walk an extra 2-300 m, but at least I walked the right way!
It was annoying, actually, because my feet already hurt and I knew I had a long day ahead of me.
Shortly after the bridge the camino split into two parts. The regular, easy camino, following the main road through the canyon, and the camino dura, which was the hard, mountain path. The book had said it was a strenuous climb, and I didn’t really believe them. It was no joke. Maybe even steeper than most of France. After the first few hundred meters I was already pretty hot. I stopped to put my hair up so it was off my neck. I had my back to the path behind me, and as I was putting my hair up, I heard a metallic thunk. I turned around, and just like out of a horror movie, there was a little old man with a machete or something hacking away at a bush only about 30 meters away from me. I kept going.
It was foggy for most of the way up, but eventually I came out into the sunshine, and I could look back over the fog bank. Best decision ever. It was so beautiful up in the mountains, and I was completely alone for the next 4 hours.
I sat down on the side of one of the saddles and just stayed there for I don’t know how long. I had a bit of a breakdown. The camino is almost over, and while I have more of an idea than before I came, I still don’t really know what I’m doing. I was feeling generally sorry for myself. After a while, though, I realized that I didn’t need to worry about that right now, and right now I needed to enjoy the gift of the Camino, and today was such a beautiful gift.
Unfortunately, when you go up, you must come down. It was a long, painful descent. My feet and legs really hate descents.
I got down into the small town and sat briefly on a bench. Some cats came over, so I shared a muffin with them. I was planning on staying in Vega de Valcarce tonight, so I kept walking.
I made it to the town at about 4 pm, but the place I wanted to stay was closed. There was a place right next door, so I went to knock on the door. It’s a small albergue with small rooms. I got a room to myself for 13 E. I originally thought he said 30, but he said the place isn’t nice enough to charge 30.
The owner is a 30 something named Matthew from England. He walked the camino, then quit his job and bought a place to open an albergue. He was making lunch for himself and Kiko (idk how he spells it), an older Spanish man living here helping him out, and they invited me to eat with them. Cuban rice. It was very good! Rice with tomato sauce and a fried egg and fried bananas.
We had a really nice conversation about the Camino and life in general. He had started his first camino from Le Puy as well.
Around dinner I was getting hungry, but the bar next door was still closed. I went to the grocery store and bought some salami and green olives, and a big ice cream thing to share with everyone.
It was delicious. Once again, I did not get pictures of people! I don’t know why. Oh well.