20 June Villafranca del Bierzo to Ruitelan

Had my pre-prepared breakfast from last night much earlier than I wanted to at 6 o’clock this morning.

The early-morning bag-rustlers started at just after 4. Then, for some reason known only unto themself, someone had set their phone alarm to wake them up with the loudest possible music at 4-30 which woke everyone in the room not yet awake.

It was impossible to get back to sleep and the corridor outside was filling up with people all making a noise trying to be quiet.

I took the opportunity to just lay back and start to assess any damage I did with yesterday’s lunacy. My assessment went like this:

(A) raise right leg and wiggle it
(B) raise left leg and wiggle it
(C) bend right leg so heel touches back of leg near my bum ( sharp pain outside of right knee)
(D) bend left leg so heel touches back of leg near bum ( no pain, but at 62 years old I am pretty impressed with my flexibility this early in the morning:-) )
(Repeat three times with same results)
(E) rotate left foot anti and clockwise for about one minute ( something feels weird with my big toe)
(F) rotate right foot anti and clockwise for about one minute
(Repeat three times with same results)
(G) bend both legs at knees and pull them up towards my chest
(Repeat three times and fart during the second attempt whilst still being impressed with my flexibility.
(H) climb down from top bunk stepping on the person’s arm in the bunk below and apologising profusely.
(I) start my usual stretching exercise routine which takes about 15 minutes as normal with nothing feeling hurtful.

So, in summary, it seems there is no real damage done from yesterday but I make the decision to take the first few minutes of today really, really, really slowly just to be sure.

Breakfast eaten I set out and step into a cold, grey, overcast morning. A low hanging mountain mist is in the process of being whisked away by a breeze thrown up by the mix of cold water from the river running through the town, and the last vestiges of yesterday’s warmth being sucked from the surrounding buildings.

My decision to take it really easy means it takes me almost 45 minutes to walk about 1000 metres to the edge of town where I take these photos.

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My left big toe feels really weird, my little toe on my right foot feels weird, my right knee is a reoccurrence of a long ago problem I think.

Immediately after crossing the bridge where I took those photographs I need to make a decision. There are three possible routes. One follows the road through a valley and on the map looks easy. Another is a hilly route that looks to be of medium difficulty. The third choice is a more difficult route which I discard immediately being unsure of what will happen to me today.

As I think through my decision people pass me who I passed yesterday. How did that happen? How on earth did they make up so much ground so quickly?

I make my decision and take the medium hard route. What a great choice! It takes only minutes for me to be back where I was a couple of days ago mentally.

I love this walk. I love walking in hills. I prefer to walk alone in hills. I prefer the sun on my back. I like the weight of a pack on my back. I like to know I don’t know where or when I will stop the days’ walk. Today I have all those things.

I am blessed.

In this photo you can see the lower route I rejected and the way I have come.

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I am plagued with flies who seem to think my sweat is an invitation to drink. There are literally hundreds of them on me. I give up trying to scare them away.

Have you ever come across something that just made you stop in your tracks and think “How clever is that!”

M I did that this morning and am truly sorry I didn’t photograph it. It was a sign post. Simple in construction and pointing the way to three different locations. The first was back to where I had come from, the second to what I can only presume was a well known local beauty spot. The third arm of the sign was obviously pointing out my route to Santiago de Compostela, but, some genius had removed the original information and replaced it with the, for me, all consuming statement, “Your Fears”.

It quite a long pull to the top of the first hill today and as I climbed I noticed the woods change from deciduous to coniferous indicating the soils were becoming more ericaceous. As I crested this first hill That was confirmed me when I saw a carpet of various heathers and acid-loving plants, too many to name.

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I have walked, climbed and hiked for as long as I can remember. I have always thought of hills and mountains as a necessity to climb so I may see clearly where I have come from, and see my way forward.

These photographs will show you where I have come from today,,,,,,,,,

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,,,….. And where I am going,,,,,

Then something I cannot explain happens to me.

Today, in peace of mind with happiness in my heart, alone on a hillside, with the weight of my pack on my shoulders and the sun on my back, tired and weary, having walked a long way, with many miles to go, I had a moment of absolute clarity………. This Camino, ……….. my Camino, is doing the same thing for me mentally that hills can do for us physically, and as I type this the power of that thought is pouring from my eyes and rolling down my cheeks in realisation of who I was, what I am now, what I need and what I hope to be.

At the end of my day I am here.

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This guy, Carlos, is providing me with a bed here. I am the only person in the attic. Have I done something wrong?

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There is no shop here in this place so I put my faith in Carlos and reserve a place for dinner he will prepare.

This is Petra from Germany and Cecilia from Mexico with whom I shared a laundry tub. Now, with nothing else to do until dinner, I am literally watching my laundry dry.

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This is Marticil from Argentina and his wife Isobella from France. They have been married for 38 years and walk a Camino together to strengthen their love for each other.

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This is Tomasz and Isobelle, both from France. I think I have introduced to them previously.

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We all have dinner together.

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During dinner we have good conversation. One statement, from a Mexican lady (Cecelia?) leaves me thinking. “As parents, teachers and guardians, we sow a seed of thought in the children around us. If we are lucky we can see that plant grow, if we are unlucky we must pull that weed from the ground by its roots”.

Steps today 31869

Bye for now folks.

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