Wednesday, April 27, 2016

El Camino de Santiago de Compostela: Day 5

Only 5 days on the Camino, but so much has happened already, it seems like an eternity!
The weather forecast is for 2 more days’ rain, hopefully with improvement following, so I decided to forego today’s 26km hike over the summit, the highest elevation in the entire Camino, and ride with the bag transport service rather than risk a serious injury. Word was that 2 elderly German ladies attempted too much each day, ended up in hospital and had to return home. I didn’t want that to happen.
So Michael started walking this morning on his own. But I was sure he’d find company along the way: more peregrinos are showing up as we get closer to our Santiago destination.
I spent the time waiting for my ride taking pictures around this town; everything’s made of stone: houses, churches, roads, walls! I also bought a walking stick with a carved shell + cross in its handle, believing I would again be walking tomorrow. And I bundled up in front of the fireplace to read: my Verse for the Day: Ps 84:6-7 continuing from Day 1’s:
 “As they pass through the Valley of Baca (Weeping), They make it a spring; The rain also covers it with pools.
  They go from strength to strength; Each one appears before God in Zion.’
Seemed appropriate! And did it ever rain: even sleet and snow! The 26 kms only took 40 minutes to drive through Asebo, Riego de Ambros, and other ancient stone grey villages. After we crossed the summit, the road wound down narrow mountain switchbacks, suddenly the valley opened wide before us and in a short time the driver dropped me with the bags in Molinaseca at… you guessed it: ‘The Way’ Hostal! It seemed a bit expensive, but the receptionist and an older man with a cane quite similar to the one I’d just bought, offered a good deal for a room all to ourselves, so I took it. That older man, Matthias, turned out to be the owner, had walked the Camino 15 times and insisted very emphatically, “You not walk more than 15 km/day. You do more you get hurt and then you no good to nobody!”
I didn’t argue with him.
I settled in our room, looked around town (didn’t take too long!) and decided to walk back uphill and meet Michael on his way downhill. I took my time for this more of a leisurely stroll. The rain stopped, the sun even came out and the mountain scenery was wonderful!
Soon I started to meet peregrinos coming down the mountain.
The crazy Italians ran by me in their flip-flops.
‘S from Seattle’ had pressed on ahead of everyone again, and I got to confront his cynicism in a very practical way. In his haste that morning, he’d forgotten his fancy wristwatch at the albergue, but the cleaning lady had found it and seeing I was going on ahead, gave it to me to in turn give to him if I should ever see him.
“See,’ I told him as I handed him his watch, ‘there is a Redeemer!’
Also met a couple South Africans. I asked if they’d seen Michael and described him.
‘Oh, you’re the dad in this Canadian father-son team! We heard about you, you’re the guy with the giant blister! He’s just a short ways behind.’
Seems news travels fast and we’re already known on the Camino!
So I kept going, taking more pictures. This side of the summit was much warmer; spring was already here: flowers blooming, trees turning greener; I continued to soak it in.
Finally I spotted Michael’s yellow pack cover coming down the mountain and soon he came around the corner with… our Irish friends again! Turned out they had pre-booked the same Way Hostal as I’d found, so after a rest,
we spent the evening together - even had supper.
Michael + I studied the next stages of our Camino and agreed that with just over a week left, it would be best to spend some time actually seeing the towns and sites rather than just pressing straight through.

So our strategy has changed: we’ll take a couple buses over the steepest sections during the next few days and then walk the last 120 kms into Santiago. Surely I should be able to do that?! 

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