Steady as She Goes

with 2 Comments

It’s been steady as she goes since León. I’ve been able to pace myself at about 30k/day, and I am learning to enjoy the sights and moments as I encounter them, rather than always trying to create those moments. That sounds so simple, but I think it’s a significant lesson for me. And since it’s been a few days since my last post, I thought I would take a relaxed morning and share some of those moments with you guys.

This is the House of the Gods. It was a stand of free food and drink for pilgrims being manned by Andre from Romania. He had walked the Camino before and it changed his life. He sold all he had and returned and now lives peacefully and happily here, in an old sheep pen, with his girlfriend and the man who started the stand. The donations have been enough to actually purchase the land and structure, and they live to give.


My encounter here was a peaceful one, but it got me thinking about how even those who live off the grace and donations of others are still relying on the system. Even though they try to escape it, they are dependent on it providing for those who offer them aid. In my journey, I hope to be like Paul, content in whatever state I am.

The cathedral in Astorga was impressive, and I was able to walk around the outside and take a few pictures. There was a group of school kids taking a trip to see it too, so that was fun to watch. After wandering around a bit, I sat down for a drink and to enjoy watching the people move about the city center.
Cruz de Ferro

In the movie, The Way, the Cruz de Ferro looks like a very isolated place. The truth is that it’s right along the roadside and has been made into a small park. There is seating, some old building structures, and lots of people. But somehow it still retains it’s significance as people respectfully take turns placing their offerings, taking pictures, and helping each other up and down from the slippery rock mound. I did not carry anything with me to place at the Cruz, and neither did my new Italian friend, Vincenzo. So we sat down and wrote a little something out, then took turns placing our messages on the Cross.

Ponferrada was beautiful to walk into, but quickly became a difficult day. There were not a lot of signs in the city to follow, and the locals directed me down the Calle de Santiago in stead of down the Camino de Santiago. As a result I was able to shave off a kilometer or two, but I did so along a busy through the city. It was noisy, unsightly, and lonely. Fortunately, Vincenzo, Isaac, and Aderet caught up with me at a bar, having also taken the wrong road out of town. All the way through town we kept seeing false arrows just trying to get us to visit a bar, albergue, or shop. It became very frustrating to have the Camino so commercialized that they would actually try to mislead pilgrims. We finally settled into the beautiful town of Villafranca after a full day of false expectations. Oh yeah, and the dryer we were promised? It was broken.
From Villafranca I climbed the mountain to O Cebreiro, which is the home of the monk who first began marking the Camino with yellow arrows and stones in 1982. It’s a cute little town with majestic views of the surround hills. The clouds rolled in on us overnight, and the morning walk was through the fog rolling off the hills. It was refreshing and beautiful.
On the way down from O Cebreiro I made friends with Kristi and Laura, a couple of university grads from Germany. We also met up with Jodi from California. I met Jodi in St Jean, but had not yet walked with her until yesterday. It made for a pleasant decent to Triacastela, where I met up with Isaac, Aderet, and Vincenzo again. A few pictures and drinks later, and Vincenzo and I set out for Samos while the others stayed in Triacastela.Samos was supposed to be like Roncevailles, or so the guide said. While the monestary is indeed quite impressive, the albergue was a bit of a let down. It was donation only, though, so that helped. For the larger sights like this Benedictine Monestary it costs money to go inside. Usually there’s a discount for pilgrims, but after 600 kilometers of walking, one would sort of think that access to these sites might be more available to the pilgrims. This route is 7 kilometers longer than the alternate route, and although Samos wasn’t quite what I was expecting, the walk in was exceptionally beautiful through tree lined paths and old stone walls. The hills are post card beautiful, and the view of the monestary as you come over the hill is breathtaking. All in all, I think it’s worth the extra kilometers, but maybe not to stay here, just to pass through. The weather is actually more fickle here than Idaho!

Well, it’s been a late morning stay at the bar across the street from the albergue. The coffee here is good, and they have graciously allowed me to use their internet for blogging. It’s called Albaroque, which is an antique word that describes toasting a business agreement with a drink of wine. I highly recommend stopping in for friendly service! But I must be off before the day gets away from me. I have covered enough ground to be able to relax a little, but I don’t want to loose my free day in Santiago. Yeah, I have pressed on hard enough to actually get into Santiago on the 26th. My train doesn’t leave until the morning of the 28th, so I am looking forward to a day of rest and exploration. My CouchSurfing, EVS friends have welcomed me into their flat for a couple of nights, too, so that will be fun. On we go!

Getting closer!



2 Responses

  1. Amanda

    What an amazing journey!

  2. stickybee2

    Nice to see you met up with Jodi!

%d bloggers like this: