October 6, 2002

10/6/02 Manjarín

10 km

The hospitaleros made us coffee and hot cocoa this morning. As we get closer to Santiago, there seem to be more and more pilgrims joining us every day. A few of us left Rabanal as a wonderful sunrise sent us on our way.

Glorious sunrise over Rabanal del Camino

The Camino is definitely leaving the plains behind as we climb and climb. We stopped for café in Foncebadón where the owner put a sello on Max's forehead, a definite surprise to him. We joyfully continued on our way.

Christopher [France]

Gelko [Croatia]

Up, up we went till we reached the Cruz de Ferro (1504-m). This cairn was here before the Romans to mark the way over the mountain pass. In the 12th century, the hermit Gaucelmo put a cross on the cairn. Ever since, pilgrims traditionally brought a stone to add to the pile to signify the sins they were leaving behind as they made their way to Santiago.

Cruz de Ferro

We just had a few kilometers to go till we reached Manjarín with its refugio run by Tomás, who sometimes claims he was a Templar Knight in a previous life. He left a wife and two daughters in Madrid to help the pilgrims on the Camino. To me, this place brought back fond memories of a similar Good Samaritan on the Appalachian Trail, Rusty at the Hard Time Hollow near Waynesboro, Virginia.

The place is as rustic as they come but it was a great place to rest in the shade. José, his faithful sidekick, cooked up a hug, I mean really huge pan of mushrooms and couscous. Must have been three or four bucketful's of plate-size mushrooms, but they cooked down a lot. Tomás wasn't feeling well, so he left after lunch.

More pilgrims arriving

Like Rusty's, everything is freely given but donations wouldn't be turned down. Some think Tomás is crazy and the authorities tried to shut off his electricity until he had a hunger strike in front of their offices in León.

Many pilgrims stopped for a rest in the shade or a cup of coffee. Most continued on but I did see a few friends among them; Larissa, Katarina and Virginie. I hope to see them again. Looks like just a few of us here tonight.

While Josué and Mark headed off in search of a hippy town Josué had visited on his last Camino seven years ago, the rest of us just hung out not really doing anything. Someone new I met today was Liz from Australia. She quit a job in Marketing to do some travelling. When she gets back to Sydney, Liz wants to open here own café.

Having a bit of lunch: mushroom soup

About the same time, the guys got back from their side trip, one of the 'hippy' folks just happened to drop by. Josué had a lot of questions. He 's thinking of going back after the Camino for a while to learn how they operate the pueblo. Josué wants to do something similar and thought he could learn from the commune's experience of the last fifteen years.

As night fell, José was getting nervous because Tomás hadn't come back to the house. A lot of the pilgrims seemed very irritated at having to wait for dinner. Here Tomás and José were doing everything for the pilgrims and they didn't ask for anything in return. We all shared what snack food we had so it didn't matter to me if we were fed. I knew I had a warm, dry place to sleep, so what else was important. Missing a meal sure wasn't going to kill us.

About 10pm, Tomás arrived back, carrying a load of groceries. We moved the tables inside for a hearty meal of mushrooms and couscous leftover from lunch, a tomato-red pepper salad, and if we were still hungry, garlic soup. Lot's of animated conversation, most of it coming from José.

With full stomachs, we all climbed up to the attic space where there must have been a dozen mattresses. The end of a good day.