I am just outside Sarria with just over 100 km to go. Alto de Poio through Triacastela to San Mamed del Camino. I walked 28 km today ~ so it looks good to make it on time. Very limited internet here. More soon as possible. Hasta luego.
Saturday, October 1st ~ Molinaseca through Ponferrada to Cacabelos. 25.4 km.
I stopped in Ponferrada across the street from the Templar Castle for morning coffee. It was another hour until it opened, so I contented myself with a view of the exterior.
The old pilgrim bridge into Ponferrada
The Camino took us way around to enter town over this.
The Templar Castle
The white blood donation truck parked right in front of the Camino waymark
and so pilgrims started to miss the turn at the castle.I was about out of cash as we were going through Ponferrada, so I attempted to use the ATM of another bank than mine - my card was rejected! I figured that since it was the first of the month my bank had decided that I had been in Spain long enough! Anxiety set in - Maureen, one of our crew, was kind enough to lend me some funds, but the towns we were headed for were smaller and it was Saturday....
Monetary Relief in CacabelosWhen we got to Cacabelos and had checked into the albergue there, I called the US and was assured by my bank that there was nothing wrong with my card. "Try another bank's ATM," they said. Check out who came through for me. As it turned out, just last week, Banco Pastor was bought out by.... Banco Popular!! Maureen was repaid and I was funded for more walking - we celebrated with a steaming platter of pulpo and some white wine. Quite tasty!!
Shani, Maureen, and Peter,
Israel, Ireland and Canada, respectively.Around Cacabelos, the grapes were being harvested. We just happened upon a bodega celebrating the harvest with really inexpensive wine, .40 a glass!
Mary & Georgina (two more from Ireland) with Peter at the bodega.
Sunday, October 2nd ~ Cacabelos to Vega de Valcarce. 23.7 km.
From Cacabelos it was through Villafranca del Bierzo and then a choice had to be made - the guidebook showed three different ways to go - we took the middle way, along the road up through the Bierzo valley. The other two looked to involve more climbing up and down hills. The road route was very nice with more villages along it.
Sunrise outside of Villafranca.
Villafranca in the morning.
More pilgrim fun.
My usual Peregrino lunch - ham, cheese & tomato bocadillo (baguette sandwich), gorp, and Aquarius
A contented Camino cat.
Saint Jimmy along the way.
Finally, some live pigs - Saw enough ham, but not many on the hoof.
Full bodied beevesA major highway had replaced the road as the preferred route so traffic really was not an issue. The highway was almost a road in the sky, quite a lot of very elevated roadway.
I did get to Sunday Mass at the parish church in Vega de Valcarce. A young priest celebrated in a very lacy alb (shades of Fr. Guptill) he did a fine reverent celebration with the assistance of a very poised young lady of maybe 8 years of age. She read the intercessions even!
It being Shani's birthday, after Mass a gang of us peregrinos retired to a local eatery to celebrate the anniversary of her nativity with the ritual of the Menu de Peregrino ~ the standard 3 course meal with a bottle of wine.
Monday, October 3rd ~ Vega de Valcarce to Alto de Poio. 19.6 km. [(accrued ascent 1400 m = 7 km) 26.6 km adjusted for climb.]
This was the big climb of the latter part of the Camino. Not quite as high as the Cruz de Ferro, but definitely steeper. But the rise through the valley was pretty spectacular, and the scenery tremendous.
In O Cebreiro I ran into Corey, a woman from the Netherlands I had met earlier on the Meseta. She had developed an infection in her foot and was worried that she would not be able to finish her Camino. I asked her if I could say a prayer for her. She allowed as how that would be fine with her. I laid my hands upon her head and prayed God to heal her. We said goodbye to one another and I continued on out of O Cebreiro. We traveled through O Cebreiro and from there on to the Alto de Poio (the last bit of altitude before the descent into Triacastela).We stayed at Alto de Poio in the Albergue del Puerto and ate the menu de peregrino at the Hostal/Bar across the road. Jose' the waiter kept his hat on. A fun meal and a good night.
Tuesday, October 4th St. Francis' Day (a famous peregrino)
~ Alto de Poio to San Mamed del Camino 28 km.
Dawn at the top.A detour for pilgrimsPeter entering a rather cute little stone church.Down you go!The morning saw the incredible descent from the mountain at Biduedo into Triacastela. There we took a break for the obligatory bocadilla. This time ~ Jamon y queso y tomate = a fine combination! In Triacastela we had the experience of a man driving a tractor up a narrow street towards us. When he got up to us we, quite naturally, got out of the way. He leaned out of the cab and told us that the apple tree we were standing next to was his. He then insisted that we wait while he picked several apples for us. It was such a nice thing to do - give a peregrino a manzana. The apples had an interesting white flesh. A kindness.
Corey turned up in Triacastela - she was having lunch at a cafe as we passed through - she said her infection was clearing - I pointed out - prayer works! She said she hoped to be able to make the walk in from Sarria.
On the far side of Triacastela we met Monica, a young woman from Lithuania who had walked from Le Puy in France - a distance double that of those of us who were walking from Saint Jean Pied de Port. Monica took the option with us that bypassed the monastery at Samos. We took the path to the right that promised to be steeper but 6.5 km shorter. It was a beautiful way to go.... but steep! And just for the record, the Brierley Guidebook map for this section of the Camino has a mountain in the wrong place!!
Triacastela stoneworkMaureen, Monica, and PeterQuite Tolkienish...The fuente just before San Xil.
Where is Brierley's mountain?We pressed on aiming for the Xunta albergue at Calvor. We arrived to discover they had plenty of beds, but no food anywhere nearby. So it was on through Aguaida to a nice private albergue at San Mamed del Camino. There they just had room enough for us all. We enjoyed a fine vegetarian common meal there. There was also a good collection of Camino cats there - only fitting to finish St. Francis' Day with animals. Peter had a toad in his room.
Another contented Camino cat.Peter and a playful Camino kitten.