Day 17, Oct 15: Foncebadon to Cacabelos, 25.75mi

No one was in a rush to leave this small Foncebadon albergue today, so I got up about 7:30.  For the first time I didn’t really sleep that well.  My bed was right by the door which led out to the bathrooms.  Any time anyone got up to use it, the automatic hall light would go on, and sometime the door would bang, ugh!

It was very chilly this morning – frost on the ground and roofs; about 0 degrees Celsius when I left the albergue at 8:40am, but once the sun was fully up, things started to warm.
-2 degrees Celsius when I woke up at 7:30 this morning; once the sun rose it was more comfortable and later got into the high 70s (Farenheit!)

-2 degrees Celsius when I woke up at 7:30 this morning; once the sun rose it was more comfortable and later got into the high 70s (Farenheit!)

 

 

Only 2km to the infamous Cruz de Ferro, all uphill.  This majestic spot stands 1504m (4,934ft) above sea level and a simple iron cross stands atop its weathered pole that has become one of the symbols of the way of St. John (Brierley guidebook).  Many pilgrims take time to walk up and add a stone or other token of blessing to the pile that witnesses to the collective journeying.  I had left a special stone a different monument two days ago, feeling moved to do so then, but today I also left a small rock I found on the trail leading up to Foncebadon, as a token of love and blessing.  I wanted to leave my mark on the Cruz de Ferro, too!
I asked a fellow Peregrina (female pilgrim) to take my photo standing up by the Cruz de Ferro, and I love that she snapped one while I was glancing up at the cross, as well as one of me doing the typical stand-there-and-smile tourist pose.  This one is more meaningful.

I asked a fellow Peregrina (female pilgrim) to take my photo standing up by the Cruz de Ferro, and I love that she snapped one while I was glancing up at the cross, as well as one of me doing the typical stand-there-and-smile tourist pose. This one is more meaningful.

 

The walking was very mountainous today, a great change from the fairly flat and sunny (warm-hot) Meseta we had been in for at least a week.  Around 12:45 I descended into a very pretty town called Molinaseca where I stopped for a break and to have lunch.  I ate outside in the sun and checked my guidebook.  3 men, all different generations, sat at the table right next to me.  *Side note of interest:  I’ve noticed that people in Spain tend not to be wary of encroaching on other people’s space.  We seem to need a lot of personal space in the US.  These folks sat down at the tiny table RIGHT next to me, though there were no other people around and about 5 empty tables.  The eldest man then began talking to me, even though I was eating and reading at the same time.  I have noticed people sitting very close to one another in other places, too; for example my blog entry for the day I walked through Pamplona chuckles at the line of older men sitting almost on top of each other on a bench in the main Square, while there were many other benches available!
The lovely town of Molina seca, which is at the foot of a very long, rocky decent (Camino peak today was 4934ft at the top of Puerto Irago where the Cruz de Ferro is).  I ate lunch here and enjoyed the sun and scenery, and Spanish converation!

The lovely town of Molina seca, which is at the foot of a very long, rocky decent (Camino peak today was 4934ft at the top of Puerto Irago where the Cruz de Ferro is). I ate lunch here and enjoyed the sun and scenery, and Spanish converation!

 

So, I became involved in conversation with this man, probably in his late 70s, and his son (50s) and his grandson (young teen) who were visiting.  They were Spanish, and we had a nice chat all in Spanish.  They complimented me on my language skills – yay! I really, really like talking to people; it’s not only giving me more and more confidence and improving my skills, by doing so I feel like I am truly experiencing the culture here and learning first-hand from people about some of their life.
My walk took me through a bigger city of 69,000, Ponferrada, which gets its name from the iron bridge leading out of town; Pons Ferrata means Iron Bridge, and the city has a strong industrial base built on coal and iron reserves that have been mined in this area since medieval times (Brierley guidebook).  Though the guidebook suggested staying here and exploring some of the city, I hadn’t planned to and was glad I didn’t because as I walked through I just didn’t get a good vibe from the city.  It didn’t feel dangerous, just not welcoming nor called to me like some other places do.  I enjoy the flexibility of spending more time in places that feel good or “I just want do”, and passing others by if I “just don’t want to” spend time there!
The sun was hot, and the route was a little boring after the city; some very small neighborhoods and backroads streets that backed up to farmland.  I put on some music and that kept my feet going and my spirits up.
The last part of the walk was just beautiful, literally straight through vineyards.  We must have been on private property, but the Camino goes where the Camino goes, and the roads have been well-traveled.  The hills were covered with color-changing vines and though the sun was hot and I was tired, this part of the walk was inspiring.
The last hour of my walk today was in full sun and through beautiful vineyards.  Much of the Camino either passes by or straight through vineyards.  Wine from each regions is celebrated and enjoyed daily by locals, tourists, and pilgrims alike.  Each region is very proud of their viticulture, and wherever you are, the "house wine" is local and delicious.

The last hour of my walk today was in full sun and through beautiful vineyards. Much of the Camino either passes by or straight through vineyards. Wine from each regions is celebrated and enjoyed daily by locals, tourists, and pilgrims alike. Each region is very proud of their viticulture, and wherever you are, the “house wine” is local and delicious.

 

I have seen quite a few of these big nests (I have been told they are made by storks, not sure if that is accurate), but usually they are on top of bell towers that provide a flat space for the nest.  This bell tower didn't have sufficient space, so apparently this bold and creative stork thought the top of a cement spire would do!  Made me laugh.

I have seen quite a few of these big nests (I have been told they are made by storks, not sure if that is accurate), but usually they are on top of bell towers that provide a flat space for the nest. This bell tower didn’t have sufficient space, so apparently this bold and creative stork thought the top of a cement spire would do! Made me laugh.

I arrived in Cacabelos (pop. 5,500), my stopping point for today, and I was so glad.  About 1km from the Albergue Municipal, I stepped off a curb and something really tightened up in the arch of my right foot and was very uncomfortable.  I knew it was time to stop walking today; I slowly made my way to the albergue, checked in, and decided not to go out for dinner.  No dinner was provided here, but there were restaurants just back over the bridge, about 0.5km away.  I don’t always carry enough food for a dinner with me, but today I actually had enough so I decided I’d eat it instead of walk any farther.  Bonus was that the albergue did sell bottles of wine from the community wine co-op (practically in the albergue’s backyard; wine served here in Spain is always local).  So I bought a bottle of “vino tinto” (red wine) for 3 euros, and shared it with my roommate, a 24-yr old new grad, Ruta, from Lithuania.  We sat outside and snacked and drank the co-op wine from plastic cups.  It was fun!  And I put my sore feet up and let them really rest.
I think I slept the best tonight that I have this whole trip.  There were only 2 beds per room, and they were really comfortable!  It was chilly tonight, and I was exhausted.  There were extra blankets and I put one over my sleeping bag and felt so cozy!  I fell right to sleep and barely woke up during the night, getting over 8 hours – divine!

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