Enjoy the Gift

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.



Add yours →

  1. The Camino doesn’t magically hold the answers for you, Betsey. It’s a long path, but at the end, the answers you seek are inside you.
    Originally, the pilgrim who reached Santiago showed that he/she had experience penance, or sorrow for sin, and reached for forgiveness. The forgiveness didn’t come from reaching the end of the Camino
    As you say, the Camino is different for everyone– yours is not that same journey, but you have to look at your insights, your experiences, and consider what you now know about yourself, that you did not know when you stepped inside the cathedral way back in Le Puy.
    Buen Camino, peregrina!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, thank you. I do know that. I guess I don’t need to post anymore.


      • No, the posting is part of that discovery process. It’s thinking out loud, using language to explain what you feel inside.
        I hope you do locate the thing or things that speak to you. It’s good that you can take the time to walk across the empty mountain country to try to hear them.
        And, like you say, to enjoy the gift that is every day, the gift that you can get up and walk, every day, for as long as you want. That is a gift to celebrate, indeed, and you are using that gift well.


    • My mistake was obviously being too personal in a personal journey.


      • Ah! No worries, Betsey! I think you should just write what you are feeling and ignore the advice people give you.

        Err. So obviously, you should ignore my advice and…

        Anyway, that’s the trouble with talking about things—people think you’re looking for advice when you really aren’t, and can’t help but offer it.

        I’ll shut up now.

        I love the photos looking down over the foggy valley, and the fogbow!


  2. What a wonderful gift you are giving yourself. As I’ve said before, I am SO glad you are getting to do the Camino! It’s the right thing at the right time and is perfect for you. You’ve learned a lot and the rest will come…

    Today there was the extra gift of the fog, and rising above it. Even fog bows! I’m glad the man with the machete didn’t get any closer.

    I think it’s interesting that signs are frequently in English, like the Quilter’s Cabin 🙂


  3. Please don’t stop posting! I just got caught up and I want to read about the rest of your adventures.
    I love you so much and I am so happy for you and this gift that the whole Camino is for you. When I saw the title of your post it seemed fitting for today, as it would be unlikely that you would have been able to do this if not for Uncle Wood. Definitely a gift.


  4. Wow, that is some dense fog! Cool pics. (And hey, if ya gotta have a breakdown every once in a while, at least you have a nice view!)

    I like seeing all the shell motifs in different places. That would make a neat collage.


  5. I love, love, LOVE reading your posts. And, as hard as it is to post about the frustrating not-really-knowing times, I like hearing about that, too. It’s all part of your Camino. You may not receive all of the answers right now. You may not have it all figured out by the time you go home. But, as you come home, you will be continuing your Life Camino. You’ll still find places to stay. You’ll still make new friends along your path. Some will walk with you for a while and some you’ll hope not to run into again. You’ll go up and down mountains. You’ll go in and out of fog. You’ll experience the beauty and joy of the flat places and the struggles that it takes to get the view. And the whole time, you can remember that we’re all travelers on our own Caminos.

    The whole time I’ve been following your journey, I have been impressed by the little things that have come along at just the right time for you. Friends, news, guidebooks, places to stay. I think those things will continue to show up in your life. I’m going to be sad when it’s over–so I hope you’ll continue to post about your journey after the fact. Love you, Pepsi-Loo!


  6. When I was leaving my mission and feeling all sorts of emotional about it, I kept thinking of that song from My Turn on Earth that goes

    Is it over?
    Have I finished the game?
    Have I found what I came here to find?
    Just a few moments more
    Till the moment I leave it all behind me

    Re-entry might be a little rocky and that is okay. I’m so glad that you’re getting to do this. It’s really the perfect thing for you. ((BIG HUGS))


  7. You have an amazing gift of finding the good in every situation! Always have, always will. Keep on truckin’! You are loved!


  8. I love reading everything you share. You have a talent for writing and expressing yourself. I have missed our walks, but I am glad I can keep in touch with you here.

    I love the views from above the fog. Buen Camino, my friend!


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