Ok. What a difference getting clean can make.

Well…that was different.

We began the morning just a tad late just outside of Astorga after a wonderful night at our Albergue. We met a great group of young adults that were together part of a BSU group. A uniquely homemade dinner of soup, chicken and rice was followed by some games and a wonderfully cool – even chilly- night.

Starting out we has to have our cold weather gear on, but as usual as soon as the sun was up for an hour we were back into shorts and tshirts.

We walked 4km (about an hour at our pace) and came to Santa Catalina de Somoza where we hit upon a bar serving fried eggs and back with toast. Ah! Delightful!

We passed through a few towns today that were once major pilgrim stopovers in the Middle Ages (ruins of places and evidence of old activity). However with the recent revival of the Camino, they are springing back to life. It is very encouraging. One place even had a cowboy bar.

By lunch we’d reached Rabanal del Camino having already climbed almost 1000’. Rabanal was a major pilgrimage stop because it was a last stop before the dangerous crossing of the mountains. Here we had our first chance to stop but we’d already decided to go a bit further.

The next chance was another 1-¾ hrs down the road and we got there with another chance to stop. The town was so interesting. It was clearly once a major place that was once again springing to life. Allison and I saw that there was however an interestingly described place to stay only one hour further along so we decided to push just a bit more. This ended up being a mistake.

We had climbed a total of 1600 ft in elevation and walked a total of 29km (a long day for us) when we reached the peak and La Cruz de Ferro.

This is the spot where tradition holds that you place a stone or other object that you’ve carried the entire pilgrimage at the foot of the iron cross – symbolically laying your burdens at the cross – giving them up to God’s son.

It was a moving memorial. People had left many tributes, bad habits, pictures of loved ones, at this cross. It was nice.

It was a fun day and Allison and I had only 30 more minutes of walking to our proposed spot to rest our very weary legs. That’s when things went a bit badly.

The spot was … well… filthy. It was just pretty nasty and faced with another 2-½ hours of walking we still chose not to stay. However my feet were aching and I had to stop for a moment and remove my boots. Surprise! One big blister on each of my heels.

I bandaged them up and we headed off for about another half hour when we realized we’d left our hiking poles behind where I’d worked on my feet! But two Australian ladies had picked then up and we didn’t have to backtrack too far.

Bad to worse – about an hour farther into the journey it dawned on me that I’d my glasses were very blurry and there was a lot of glare. Funny – normally my hat kept the glare off – oh NO I’d let my hat back at the Dirty Albergue.

In the end, slightly sunburned, and out of water we stumbled into Acebo. This was our longest day ever and we are both worn. In disappointed about my hat and hope someone will find it and be good and call my cell number written inside.

But we are healthy otherwise and safe in a private room we’ve treated ourselves to for our efforts and bad luck. Oddly enough we are nearly 2 days ahead of schedule now and will have to slow down lest we end up in Santiago too soon.

Pictures to follow.

Published by

Mark Dowty

"An Intentional Life"

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