Rabanal del Camino/Ponferrada/Villafranca del Bierzo/

Rabanal del Camino/Ponferrada/Villafranca del Bierzo/

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Left at 6.30. During the night there was a huge thunderstorm, rain was falling on the roof with hail.
There was no one in attendance to let us out.
There are oak trees and heather along the way.It is difficult to walk at times, it is slippery and you have to step over big muddy areas with water still running on the side.It is hilly and there is a lot of grass growing.It is also very narrow .We rejoined the road and saw that beautiful medieval bridge (puente de los Peregrinos) on the Meruelo river.(originally built by the Romans)
Had a stopover for breakfast again, an apple cake – the owner of the restaurant was French – Withdrew some money, walked to the Civic Centre and try to juggle over the pool of water. I did not want my shoes to get wet.
The walk continue and Ponferrada is just in sight, we stopped at the Tourist station to ask the direction for the Albergue, it is very close from there.
On arrival, we were welcomed. warmly by volunteers who are running the Albergue and we were allowed to leave our mochilas at the Albergue and walked to the Castle.
« In 1175,the knights for the order of the Temple settle down in Ponferrada to protect the pilgrims and built a fortress »
Ponferrada means Iron bridge.
At the castle, we meet some American cyclists that became friends of Yolanda and Hildegarde.
Glenis , Gary and I walked for quite sometimes trying to find a place to eat. We finally decided to go Italian.
We then headed back to the Albergue.

Glenis and Gary were having a snooze and I went out. Outside the garden in the gardens, a lady stopped me and asked me if I wanted to answer a survey about the Camino. I said yes. Filled up the form and left. My camera had stopped working and I wanted to see if I could get a recharger. So I walked past the Ponferrada bridge and walked and walked and walked. I was so hot, I was wearing some flip flop shoes and they were giving me some problem rubbing inside in between the toes. I thought of walking barefoot for a while would be much better. I located a Chemist – Yes again – My body was covered with strange things and I was itching and scratching and scratching . The blood was coming out. She gave me some cream to ease the itch and showed me where to go to find a camera shop.

On the Camino, I took mainly pictures from the landscape. My camera stopped working because I forgot to take the recharger with me :). I tried to get one in Leon as I could see I was running low on battery,they did not have any.
SO, I walked and walked, Ponferrada is a big place believe me !:)Finally, I found the shop, unfortunately, the man did not have my camera ‘s type -the only solution was for me to buy a new camera- I just say thank you and left. I just had to be patient and wait for a few days. … until Mauricio (a Brazilian) came to the rescue. He had an Universal recharger. I missed not having my camera for a few days that’s all.
A few people asked to take a picture of me on a few occasions, I was a bit reluctant and walking I thought about that. It was another hangover I had from the past. Someone said one day they wanted to take a picture of the family and I immediately came along.I was told No – only the Family – Funny, I thought I was part of the family. So I cleared that up now and learning not to be so touchy. I have never seen so many pictures of me lately!

I returned back to the Albergue and went with Glenis, Gary and Jane for a drink into the centre of the City.
We sat outside watching the passers-by.It was really nice just letting your mind go and do nothing but watching. The rain came again and we waited for a while until it nearly disappeared before walking back to our quarters.
I had a full day and I was pretty tired.

Ponferrada/Villafranca del Bierzo

The journey started at 6 am. The moon was at 1/4 full ,walking along the countryside, crossed a few villages and stopped to have breakfast, a real chocolate (the thick one) without the « Churros ». How lucky!
The Pamplona’s bull race was on, lots of people in the cafe were cheering. Glenis did not appreciated that and thought it was cruel. Some pictures were disturbing, I have to admit. I watched for a short while and my attention got directed towards the newspaper lying on the bar. I picked it up, I wanted to check if there was anything mentioned about Olga. I was worried about that and I had a pang in my stomach. I asked the woman serving me to show me if there was some information about someone being lost on the Camino, she looked at the page she thought it would be and could not find anything. I put the paper down and started doing some breathing to chase that idea out of my head. During the walk, I thought about where all this was coming from. I was able to relate it with childhood’s anxieties. I felt more at peace that I was able to see that.

We went over a bridge and onto the path again, as I turned back I could see two policemen on horses following onto the track. When they approached, I asked them how many kilometres they did a day with the horse? » 20/25 kms depends – sometimes 30 kms – » which is roughly how much I was doing.(20/24 kms) per day walking for 6 hours and stopping on the way a few times. This was interesting. They continued along and I watched the horses ondulating onto the track, at their own rythme.

Walked more onto the alternative road – It took nearly longer than the first 18 kms –
It was time to have a break again, from a short distance, we could hear some loud music – ideal – We placed our order : « bocadillas con jamon y queso » and some tomatoes as well. The lady seemed surprised and presented us with two tomatoes on a plate with a knife on top of it. She brought the sandwich along and asked me to sit closer to the table. She opened the sandwich and added the tomato, poured some salt and olive oil in it.
Two more people arrived, they were relations. One of the lady took a liking to me, telling me she had an apartment in Madrid and her neighbour was French. She had lived in Cuba, been to Venezuela and was asked to visit her cousin in San Antonio in the US but needed knee surgery before she could go, her husband had died after a long illness. She kept striking my hair, ensuring I was happy, even told me to go to the loo before leaving – I followed the instructions as per the rule 🙂 – She was doing my hair and told me a miracle should happen for me on the Camino. I felt it was right there in front of my eyes. She was so kind. Prior to leaving, a song came out « Perfidia » She was so surprised I knew the words, we all ended up singing and dancing before going. It was so spontaneous and we did not have to rehearse it. I enjoyed that; Glenys was dancing away and I am not too sure was I was doing but hey, I was happy singing along from the top of my voice : »Mujer, si puedes tu con Dios hablar, preguntale si yo alguna vez te he dejado di adorar. » That made the rest of the Camino so much more pleasant…and Gary was too, he kept asking me everyday what was my miracle for the day, so there.

As for my itches. Looks like I have measles, big blotches coming out – very very itchy –
The country side is there to distract me from that thought. Absolutely gorgeous – going through vineyards and orchards.

We finally found the Privada Albergue – had to go to the end of the town – apparently, they are not allowed to advertise.

This has been a long walk – very hot – Yes! I will have a foot massage.
We gathered all our clothes and have them ready to have them washed and dried. They were not ready until late in the night – as a matter of fact, they brought them up for us, all folded at 10pm –

The foot massage – This time was different from the first one, a lady came and it was done in front of everyone, she pulled out a table located under a bed that opened up – and Bingo, the massage table is unfolding – I only wanted my feet done, so the preliminaries started :OOHLALA! I AM SCREAMING SHE IS CERTAINLY GETTING INTO THAT NITTY GRITTY OF THINGS! OH BOY ! IT »S PURE AGONY! Hildegarde is killing herself laughing, so am I…well – sort of – 🙂 She is next in line so, I made sure I waited and see what sort of performance this was going to be.
Well, it was hilarious! I thought I was assisting at a wrestling contest. She kept waving her hand and banging it onto the table, begging to stop. She was throwing the sponge! Yolanda was next, I went out after seeing a similar pattern developing.Mine… I thought, was quite timid compared with theirs 🙂 Splendid!

Gary, Glenis and Jane had gone out for a drink to join them. I went around a couple of places, they were not there.I had no idea where they were, not too far they said. I finally find them, sitting on the balcony of the pub, looking over the river « A view to a kill » Tapas were on their ways and not just olives. I had a craving for them all the way, so I always make sure I had my share or two.:)

We then went to the centre of the city to have dinner. I saw Barbara was there sitting on her own and she came over and talk with us. I had a stopover at the Pharmacy for my itchy bits… hee hee hee.

Then nite nite until the next morning, it was going to be a long hard walk along the scenic way but gee well worth it.

It’s a 6 am start – going the scenic way –
Turning past the bridge on a very high and steep climb.
Avoided three or four dogs barking and looking pretty savage. I am glad Gary lifted his baton otherwise, one of them was going to take a piece of me. Glenis had the same experience. They did look really nasty.
Climbing, climbing, climbing. it is a spectacular view. We came across some young people camping, still asleep. WOW! That’s the ticket!

Had a few stopovers, (Glenis had taken some biscuits and drinks and we shared them amongst ourselves and she gave some to a few passers-by as well who were really pleased about that) not only to admire the view but to take a breath. Running short of breath. Down below, I could see the road and some pilgrims walking, although I don’t like height that much – I was looking at the view making sure I was closer to the right handside, get the picture?:)

I am glad we went that way. When I arrived at the summit, it was glorious. I had the sensation, I had achieved something – I had climbed my mountain – the satisfaction was unbelievable. What appeared to be snow from a distance and I had been watching that for a couple of days, was some white rocks encrusted in the mountain. Just shows you how you can be mistaken about lots of things.

We arrived in a small village and were looking for the cafe, a woman told us to follow her, we went across, cows were nearby inside the compound… the smell of it could have knocked you out.:) so powerful we turned right and the woman opened the cafe for us. It was lovely inside. Had morning tea and came out having a little chat with the locals. One of them was weaving what appeared to be a basket and further down, a man pointed out to us « O Cereibro ».

Caught up with Jane again. She was walking slowly as she had a sore knee. She said she had been bitten by a dog – the same one we had met on the outskirt of Villafranca del Bierzo –
Arriving in Trobella, I asked if there was a Doctor. No, to-day is a holiday and no Doctor was in attendance. There was a pharmacy though and it was open. Spoke with the chemist who called the Doctor in Villafranca at the Centro de Salud who then spoke with me and is telling me we have to come back to Villafranca as Jane needs to have a Tetanos Injection. I thought he meant we had to walk back initially, I was not looking forward to that. The chemist called a Taxi. Jane looked worried, the chemist had cleaned up the bite, it looked nasty. In the meantime, he also had a look at my scratches and suggested that since I was going with Jane,to have an anti-esthimine injection for my allergies.
When we left, the chemist gave us some lollies and a kiss:)

Arrived at the Hospital, they had a look and said it was really dirty, they gave Jane the injection and told her she needed to have another one in a month and in a year time. A report was also written.
As for me…I got my injection..in the bum 🙂

Meantime, the taxi driver was still waiting for us outside and we decided to head back to Vega which was only a few kilometres from Trobella. On the way, we passed Glenis and Gary, Hildegarde, Yolanda and Bill and we asked the taxi driver to sound his horn…and we waved to them:) then we just sat at a bar and waited for them to arrive. Had a drink together and then looked for a place to sleep. We found it at the Pension Fernandez. Had a shower, did the usual, washing, nap, etc

On the way over for dinner, Glenis spotted some beautiful hydrangeas and magnolia tree in a house and spoke with the people. They asked us in and we had a bit of a discussion about the beautiful flowers they had in their garden. I told them about the origin of the name of the Magnolia’s tree. They did not know it was named after the French Botanist Magnol. The man then asked us to follow him around, he wanted to show us something down the road. It was an old flour mill which had been used for generations (200 years) They were so proud to show us that marvel. The way they used the water was so astute with the water coming into what looked like a river wall. During winter, the water overflows (lots of rain and snow) They had three types of flour to make the bread with – fine and mixed – This flour mill is now being restored.
I could not help thinking at the time had not Glenis stopped to admire the flowers and I talking with them in Spanish, we could have missed all that.

To-day I also organised to have my « Mochilla » taken to O Cereibro. It is the second time I have done that.
Went to bed. The Pension was next to the river and you could hear the water running. Nice and calm. Ideal for a good sleep.

Ponferrada

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