Yesterday’s hike was quite nice. The mountains and valleys are varying shades of green and seem to go on forever.
I caught up with Tony and Molli on the trail. We hiked together for about 15 minutes and then stopped for a quick snack in Foncebadón. We exchanged small talk and caught up a bit. It was apparent they wished to hike the next sections on their own, so we said our goodbyes and I hit the trail.
A short distance down the trail, I came to the Puerto Irago Cruz de Ferro. It is a large iron cross, that has become an integral part of the Camino. Pilgrims have been bringing rocks from their home land and placing them at the base of the cross and saying a little prayer for years. Over time the mound has grown substantially. It’s quite a sight. I placed two rocks.
I arrived in Molinaseca shortly after 1pm. I found a hostel on the river and walked across the street to have lunch. Within a few minutes, Michael from Ireland arrived. He stopped and we had a few beers and caught up while I had lunch. He was pushing on to Ponferrada so only stayed for a short while. He’s quite a character. It was nice to catch up with him.
During our last encounter I asked him if something I had heard was true. I asked him, “I heard the Irish like to walk. Is that true?”
In a perfect Irish accent he says, “Oh yeah. There’s not much to do in Ireland. You can drink, or you can walk.”
Today was a grind. I had a 19 mile day but that wasn’t the worst part. 11 miles of the 19 were on concrete or asphalt. After days and days of walking, walking hard surfaces is murder on the feet. They ache with every step. There was no escape. Generally you can walk on the shoulder or even in the grass to break up the firmness. Not today.
I find it rather humorous the guide books warn of a difficult road walk into Leon. Leon was a cake walk by comparison. I have tried to stay away from anti inflammatory drugs while hiking, but today was an exception. I didn’t get carried away, two 400mg doses 4 hours apart helped. I can’t imagine the agony had I not medicated a little.
The scenery was nice. I am still hiking through rolling hills, dotted with small towns. Walking between towns you pass many small farms, gardens and vineyards.
Since arriving in Spain, I have been amazed by the sheer volume of people whom have a small or even a large garden and grow their own food. It’s quite charming and an inspiration.
Another charming feature of the Camino, in many places fruit trees have been planted right along the route. This appears to be a relatively new idea as most of them are still juvenile, but what a great concept. Spain derives a huge amount of its tourism dollars from the Camino. It’s nice to see them spending some of those resources on the pilgrims.
It was quite hot today. I arrived in Villafranca del Bierzo shortly after 2. I was in a rush as siesta generally starts around 2:30 and it becomes next to impossible to get something to eat. As luck would have it today, most restaurants were still serving lunch.
I am growing weary of the food choices. I had paella for lunch, again. I’m really looking forward to the differing variety of ethnic foods we have at home. I fly back to the states two weeks from today!
What a whirlwind journey this has been!
And to add an amazing ending to a strenuous day. The Supreme Court ruled in favor of Marriage equality in all 50 states in the U.S.!!!!!!