The morning came early for me. At 6:30 I awoke Lil and by 7:30 we were downstairs in our Posada having coffee. This morning’s was the first that wasn’t very good. Ah well…. always a first.
As the other mornings have been, this too started cold and soon warmed up. We continued to climb in elevation and eventually reached the highest point on the French Camino (after the Pyrenees).
The walk was beautiful and the views breathtaking. The mountains that have been nearing each day were now at hand magnificent with their snow-capped peaks while those closest to us were covered with wild mountain heather. I took a picture trying to capture the Purple Mountains Majesty but was unsure if successful. Certainly seeing such a sight could evoke one to write a song extolling its beauty. The air was cool, fresh and delicious. The light clear and we could see far in all directions. What was most dramatic to Lilly was the change from the flat planes of the Maseta, which had been our home for two weeks, to the heights we were now traversing. This marked the end of the second stage of our journey; we were entering stage three and what we have been told is the “spiritual part of the Way. What lies ahead for us we wondered?
On the way up we stopped at one of the small mountain villages that rely solely on pilgrimage traffic for their survival. There we found a “tienda” or store that offered a better cup of coffee as well as hard boiled eggs prepared as we waited. We each had two and I had a piece of toast because when we were leaving Rabanal I smelled it wafting in the morning air. The store itself was a delight, housed in a stone house, hundreds of years old, with each pilgrims every need met from shampoo and toiletries to food stuffs to souvenirs. The young man who ran it seemed to love his store and his customers.
Later we met up again with Judy, the woman we’d helped with her backpack yesterday. She asked us to take pictures of her laying stones, each with a prayer, at a cross near the highest point on the Way. She had carried these prayer stones with her from the States. She said she now felt both spiritually and physically relieved of her burden. She had over 75 of them!
Soon thereafter the path began its descent. The views had been stunning all morning and continued to be so. However, our attention was more directed to our feet as we carefully navigated the steep downhill climb that took the rest of the afternoon. Both Lil and I were very conscious of our feet placement for neither could afford any more issues. It took a while and we stopped for food and water breaks regularly. In terms of our speed we were in the middle of the pack. There were those who sailed on down the mountain, mostly younger folks, and then there were those who put one foot deliberately in front of the other and these pilgrims we passed. At one point where the road crossed the trail a woman was selling fresh cherries. I bought a bag and we enjoyed their delicious fresh sweet tartness with our lunch.
We went through several villages, charming and delightful. Some of the pilgrims we’d been walking with turned off the path here for the night. I think had we not needed to continue on we would have stayed here too. We did refresh our water at each town and I probably drank more water today than any other. The terrain also reminded us of the paths we had walked on the French Chamin, where there hills were much more frequent. There was a point too today where the topography brought Eastern Washington to my mind.
The end of the descent seemed interminable. Finally about 4:00 we came out of the hills and into the valley we’d been viewing all afternoon and were soon strolling into the town of Molinesca. This little village, with similar stone buildings as we’d seen since leaving Rabanal, is situated on a river and besides housing pilgrims it was also busy with local tourists.
We found our lodgings off the main street. Initially there was confusion about our reservation made on booking.com where we’d registered for a double room with two beds and they only had rooms with single queen beds in them. However, all turned out well and we ended up in a dorm room with 5 beds and only us as the occupants.
The shower only offered cold libations. We have been so fortunate to have hot baths and showers on this journey in Spain. Today our luck changed. We had no hot water but for a minute. It was challenging after a hard day of hiking not to have a hot shower. The day had been hot, though so a cold shower, while not welcomed, was still not pure misery.
After showering we washed our clothes, hung up for the first time on our travel clothes line, something I’ve carried on two pilgrimages. Then went out for dinner where WiFi was available as our hostel didn’t have internet. Again we had good fortune for down the street was a nice cafeteria restaurant with a great waiter and a strong internet connection.
The food was good and plentiful. The wine excellent and the price perfect for a pilgrim on a budget. At a table next to us sat a young woman who was walking the Way alone. From Vancouver, Canada, she was on the Camino getting clarity after a relationship change. She was vibrant and pretty. Her spirit reminded me so much of my sister, as did her tall blond athletic features. She liked walking alone yet was happy to talk in the evening. We related well to that ourselves. She had terrible blisters as so many pilgrims do. The pharmacies on the Camino in France and Spain all have displays and sections devoted solely to products that address healing and preventing blisters.
Lil and I have both been blessed not to have had trouble with this issue on any of our pilgrimages: three for her and two for me. This trip we’ve each only had one small one. We do wear double lined socks which I believe helps, yet this young woman has used every tactic to help her, including double lined socks without avail. Lilly suggested that perhaps she had anger issues that are showing up in the blisters, something that seemed to resonate with her.
The internet connection was good and I was also able to send the last day’s entry and so was up to date.
Back now at our hostel and Lilly-Barb is asleep as I finish this entry. Tomorrow is another long day so with that I will say:
Hasta Manana Amigos!
Two friends on the Way. Pilgrims from behind.
Pilgrim’s stand. Purple Mountain Majesty. The mountain’s Magesty. Highest point.