Friday, September 23, 2011

Camino De Santiago: Day 24--Villafranca del Bierzo to La Faba

We woke to another cool, rainy morning and, after putting on clothes that were still damp, managed to be the very last ones to leave the hostel yet again. We finished our coffees and bananas on the porch and headed down into Villafranca to begin the day.

When we passed the pilgrims statue on the bridge we ran into our Korean friend Bonnie (who took this picture). She had spent some time in Scotland and, in an effort to remember her name, I associated her with the song "My Bonnie Lies Over The Ocean." This was great for remembering her name...but left me with the song in my head ALL DAY LONG every time I saw her!

As we walked out of the town we came by a church with bells ringing. We poked inside to find nuns in their morning service. We took it in for a while and then were on our way. 

The region was getting greener and greener each day.  

Victoria and I passed the time telling stories. Probably spurred on by the morning service with the nuns Victoria nonchalantly mentioned that she grew up in a convent. What? Just when you think you know someone! : )
These stories, plus the ones about her secret agent uncle, aristocratic blood and family history resisting the Nazis in Germany made the kilometers fly by. 

We passed yet another old chapel and, after popping in, had a rest. I distinctly remember taking the tape off my feet at this moment and being amazed at the state my feet were in. I'd gotten used to the pain of it, but they were a sight to behold. (Don't worry, I'm sparing you the pictures!)

As we rounded out some of the hills we somehow got onto the topic of the song I'm Gonna Be (you know, the I-would-walk-500-miles song). We were walking through the mountains by ourselves singing along when it dawned on us--we did the math and realized that we were actually walking 500 miles. Which was fun. 

Unfortunately that song is unbelievably catchy (...and I only know the chorus...). It haunted me the rest of the Camino, but I had a good smile every time it circled through my head. 

At about this point in the Camino we came to the freeway and the tiny town of Las HerrerĂ­as. I had tentatively decided to stay there for the night (to rest up for the steep hike the next day). Victoria was well behind schedule after sticking with me for several days (she had a tight schedule--every day she planned on walking further than me...but was enticed to stop when I did!). Since we were at a juncture with the freeway (complete with a bench) she decided to see if she could catch a ride to hit fast forward a bit. Luckily a car came by in no time headed for O'Cebreiro. A big hug later, she was off!

After a strong coffee in Las HerrerĂ­as, and after the rain stopped, I decided that the pilgrims ending the day by hiking the first 4 km of the hill to the next town tuvieron razon (had a point)--It would be good to go ahead and get a portion of the hill conquered so I wouldn't have to climb the entire thing the next day (it would be the steepest climb of the Camino).   

As I climbed my way up I decided to give my best friend (my walking stick) a companero (a friend). Using two walking sticks to practically pull myself up the hill, I plugged away. 

Although tired, I was glad I decided to go ahead and start the climb--not only for the effort it would save me the next day--but because just after the rain the green tunnels we climbed through were spectacular. 

As I was scraping the bottom of my energy pool I looked up and saw casi (Spanish for almost) written on one of the rocks. Only a little more!

We stayed in a cozy German volunteer run hostel that had its own little chapel. 
The town was beautifully located, but tiny (even if I did get lost trying to find the only shop...!). After another tasty Galician meal (best pasta of the Camino! And trust me, there was lots of pasta along the Camino to compare it too) and a stroll through town to nod at the farmers and their pungent cows, we headed back to the Albergue for the evening. 

We mostly rested up for our climb, but the evening also included a little extra fun. Some impromptu flamenco, some story telling and some postcard writing--which, in my book, are all great ways to end the day!

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