May 26, 2007

5/26/07 Vega de Valcarce

"We'll never fully understand each other.
At best we can only accept and appreciate.
"
Geri Larkin in STUMBLING TOWARDS ENLIGHTENMENT

No rain last night but the sky was still covered by clouds in the morning.

I guess I just get antsy to get moving in the morning. Instead of eating anything, I've been drinking a large bottle of yogurt for breakfast. And I left before I could say goodbye to Alexandra or Tomoko.


Up before sunrise

Most of the Camino passed through more vineyards. The clouds dominated the sky but the sun kept punching through. And today I saw more than yellow arrows pointing the way; there were red ones, white ones, blue and purple ones too.


I wish I could paint this

Made it to Villafranca del Bierzo before 9AM. Stopped to visit the Refugio Ava Fenix which hadn't changed much since I was here last. And just like five years ago, got lost leaving town. There are supposed to be three different Caminos as you leave town but I only saw one. Later Alexandra told me that a parked car blocked the sign for the other routes.

The guidebooks didn't recommend this way because it follows the road. But I saw very few cars so I didn't think it was a bad way to go.


Not really a bad road walk

All day the Camino went up, but I hardly noticed the climb. We basically followed the Rio Valcarce upsteam in this deep valley. The steam flowed pretty fast but it was difficult to see it through the trees, but you could sure hear it.

Took a long break in Tradelo for an early lunch before continuing on to Vega de Valcarce.


Only 190 kilometers to Santiago

I had been thinking that I was getting too attached to Alexandra and Tomoko instead of walking my own Camino. I was feeling pretty good and thought I might go farther today but felt bad because I hadn't said goodbye to the girls. I know that's just the way it is on the Camino but it still seemed important.

All the solitary pilgrims start our Caminos alone, and in the end it seems important to finish in that way, at least mentally, even though we may be walking with others physically. We all walk to Santiago, but it affects each of us differently. And even though it would be sad to be separated from my new friends, I think it's the right frame of mind to be in.

When I reached town, the first refugio is Albergue Brasil. I thought I'd wait here until the girls showed up, before moving on. But the minutes turned into hours as I started to worry.


Welcome to Albergue Brasil

The hospitalero told me not to worry, and eventually I decided to stop here for the day. Besides the Brazilian theme, tonights dinner is traditional Brazilian food. I thought it would be a great change from our usual pilgrim menus.

Eventually, I saw a very tired Alexandra walking up the road. She too had got lost coming out of town, loosing an hour. But, even though she was tired, she too had decided to push on to the next village 2km away. I know I'll see her again but it's still sad parting.

This albergue was started as a way to show pilgrims from all over the world a little bit of Brazil. Inside the main room is art and crafts from Brazil while Brazilian music is playing. Before dinner, we all introduced ourselves and made a short comment about the Camino. We came from eight different countries.


The Black Madonna of Brazil

And dinner was some foods from Brazil like salad with a beans and rice main course. Desert was a sweet concoction put on a cracker (sorry I didn't get the name). A good dinner with good conversation.


Dinner was wonderful

Well, just 164 km (99 miles) to Santiago. [Walked so far 543 km (336 miles)]