May 25, 2007

5/25/07 Cacabelos Spain

"Wealth is not about money, it's about understanding the journey,
the lessons we've been given to learn."

Last night I talked a bit with one of my room-mates, Pedro from Madrid. He said he loved the simplicity of traveling by bike. Like me, he brought along too many gadgets but he said he wouldn't do that for the next trip.

I think we were about the only pilgrims here speaking Spanish. During the perigrino blessing last night at the chapel next door, every language was used, German, French, Italian, English and Portuguese, but not one word of Spanish was used. Even the hospitalero was surprised that I said I could speak Spanish.

As a Spaniard, Pedro felt that most of the French and Germans were using the Camino as a cheap holiday. I couldn't really argue with him on that point. For example the refugio holds about 200 pilgrims but only a dozen or so went to the pilgrim blessing.

We shared the room with a Frenchman and a guy from French Canada. Unfortunately for Pedro, his bunkmate started to snore almost immediately, loudly. Every 30 seconds or so, I could hear Pedro hit the bed in order to get the other guy to stop snoring. But it only worked for a few seconds, then the snoring would begin again. When the third guy started snoring, I was so scared I would add to the 'choir' and Pedro would never get to sleep. So, I didn't sleep to well.

The surprise for me in the morning was that Pedro said I didn't snore, just our two room-mates. And poor Alexandra said all three of her Frenchmen room-mates snored.

The skies still had plenty of rain clouds as I left the albergue. But with so much construction, I lost the yellow arrows for the Camino almost immediately. I stopped every elderly person I saw to ask where was the Camino. They said "Keep going straight." An hour after I started, I finally saw the Camino, and more peligrinos.

Walking the alleys of Ponferrada

Templars' Castle

Passed through a few smaller towns outside Ponferrada where a lot of the fields had wheat just turning gold. I love that color just as the wheat turns from green to gold. Add the sunshine and you have perfection.

Red, green & gold

Always a crowd on the Camino

When Alexandra caught up with me, she was not doing well. I think the extra kilometers yesterday probably were not a good idea. Later, I saw her and Tomoko stopped in a grove of trees. I sat with them for a bit, none of us speaking so as to hear only the sounds of the forest.

What a peaceful spot to rest

Cacabelo seemed like a old village as we followed the Camino, but once we reached the river you realized that it was actually a very large, modern city. Even though it was only 15km to here, I decided to stop. Maybe my feet will be ready for more tomorrow.

Alexandra walking through Cacabelos

The albergue is kind of strange. Double rooms are built all along the inside wall surrounding the church. My room-mate is Jean Pierre from Marseilles France. He only speaks French so I spoke in Spanish and with the miracle of the Camino, we could understand each other pretty well.

The rooms around the church

With double rooms

What does it mean?

Alexandra and Tomoko are here, as well as Cinnamon (California). I recognize a lot of the people from my weeks on the Camino, I just don't have names to the faces yet. But we know each other enough to give a hearty "Hola" or "Bonjour" or "Guttentag".

Ended up eating at Pizzeria Mc'Cua near the albergue, twice. Best pizza I've ever had in Spain.

Ah, the weather. Most of the day, clouds flew in then the sun would push them out. But always more clouds were ready to fill their place. We had rain after dinner, but when it cleared there was a beautiful rainbow.

A good omen

Everyday we pass stork nests built on the church steeples. All month we've kept an eye out for the chicks, hoping to be here when they fly. After the rain, the chick in a nest across from the albergue decided to stretch his wings out to dry. He'll be flying soon, I think. Unfortunately, we're leaving their nesting grounds as we climb into Galicia, so I don't think we'll see any more.

Watching the stork next across the street