Yesterday we walked 16.5 kilometers from Rabanal del Camino to Acebo. It was a day of steep rocky paths,
...and beautiful mountain vistas.
It was late, close to 6 pm when we arrived in Acebo, and we worried over whether at that hour we'd still be able to find beds. We did, at the Meson El Acebo.
But unfortunately by the time we arrived all that was left in the close, crowded dorm room were a couple of 7€ top bunks.
Now, I've slept in albergue top bunks before, but the one I got was so close to the next bed that if I'd weighed one pound more I wouldn't have been able to squash myself between the beds and squeeze up the ladder.
Still, crowded bunk beds was the least problem at the Meson El Acebo. Sometime before 12:30 am, when I got up to use the bathroom, the water had been turned off in the albergue. It was still off when I woke up this morning at 5.50 am, my usual wake-up time. I shook Tom awake and asked him whether he wanted to wait around and see if the water came back on or leave in case the water didn't come back before the rest of the pilgrims woke up. We decided to bolt.
Later this morning on the Camino we met up with some other pilgrims who'd been at our albergue. and they said the water was still off when they left at 7:30.
I'd say the Meson El Acebo has some 'splainin' to do.
But yesterday, though we covered only 16.5 k's, was a long day, and not only because of the rough trail; it was because we spent so much time stopping to converse with people along the way.
Our first long stop came before we even left Rabanal del Camino and evolved over breakfast at the bar next to the albergue, Posada El Tesin, where we'd eaten dinner the night before..
We got into a conversation with the friendly, hard-working young barkeepers, Alba, whose parents own the bar, and her fiancé Hector.
Hector and Alba.
Alba told us that she and Hector are close to their dream of opening their own hostel in town. They have their location and their plan - their hostel will be handicapped-acessible - but Alba had one concern for which she solicited our opinion. She and Hector want to call their hostel Tierra Salvage - Wild Earth - but were wondering if we thought that was a good name, as her parents didn't think it was. A young Austrailian pilgrim in the bar thought it was a wonderful name and said that she would choose their hostel on the basis of its lovely name alone.
I told Alba that she and Hector should follow their hearts on naming their hostel, and if Tierra Salvage called to their hearts, well, they should go for it. Besides, I added, it wouldn't really matter to their guests what the name of their hostel was; if people enjoyed their stayther then they'd spread a good word, the hostel would get a good reputation and they would succeed.
In the meantime here's the information Alba gave me on their hopefully soon up-and-running new rural hostel:
Tierra Salvage (maybe)
Calle Del Medio, 4
Rabanal del Camino
I wish Alba and Hector the best.
Though we were now an hour behind schedule we ended up taking another extra-long rest stop, which happened when we stopped for lunch in a cafe in the town of Foncebadon,
....where we got into several interesting discussions of history and politics with several German pilgrims.
After lunch, now two hours behind, we continued our climb up the mountain path that would bring us to the highest point on the Camino, Punto Alto, at 4,970 feet.
But a few kilometers before Punto Alto we reached La Cruz de Ferro, an iron cross on a high wooden pole that sits atop a hill of stones
Some pilgrims carry with them along the Camino a stone representing a special prayer or intention, and when they reach La Cruz de Ferro they place their stone on the hill with the rest of the prayer-stones.
I didn't carry a stone with me - though sometimes it feels as though I'm carrying a whole backpack full - but I picked up 9 stones from the from the ground around the hill: one for each of my four children, one for each of my three sons-in-law, one for each of my two grandchildren. I then added my stones to the hill beneath the cross with a prayer for well-being and peace of mind for each of my loved ones
Then I saw on the ground a stone in the shape of a heart..
I added it to others with a prayer for my mate and me.
We had one more stop along the way, but this time a brief one. We had to spend a few minutes in Manjarin, a colorful Camino town with a population of 1..
The guide book said that there was a pilgrim albergue in the town. I managed to meet the town's sole resident, a hippy-looking gent around my age. When I asked him if he owned the albergue he told me that it wasn't an albergue, it was a redugio, a refuge, and that he was a Templar, a protector of pilgrims. He explained that he ran his refugio on pilgrim donations. The money he received from today's pilgrims he would use to provide food for tomorrow's.
And I thought, now there was a person who'd found his life's calling.
A romantic comedy of errors.
Lots and lots of errors.
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