At dinner last night Sherry told us she was going to carry on alone. Sherry walks quickly and hates the albergue (well the communal bathrooms). And she is really keen to get home. So we had our last supper as a four. It feels odd now that everyone is starting to talk about the day they are planning on reaching Santiago… And even I am starting to think that maybe, just maybe I really could get there.
So it was that the three of us left this morning just as the sky was lightening; walking slowly up and up towards Cruz de Ferro.
This is a spot on the camino where years of pilgrims have left stones, wishes and momentos at the foot of an iron cross and is quite a landmark.
We have been so lucky with the weather… Today is just the perfect day. It’s cold but not too cold. It’s dry and the sky is clear and it is simply beautiful.
It’s hard to put into words just how spectacular the views are. Blue skies, with clouds sometimes hanging over the countryside, the sun bursting through the tress, the leaves and ferns all turning gold in their autumn splendour, mountains lining up behind each other on the sky line… This really is a wonderful place.
We stopped at Foncebadon for a coffee but pulled up short as we approached… There was a mountain lion blocking our path! OK, so it wasn’t really a lion but crikey this dog was big… And as Pam pointed out he was still ‘intact’! And there was no chain! We had no choice but pass him… The coffee and the camino was on the other side of him. Me… Being the biggest coward walked as far away from him as possible… And I know you’re all hoping that something exciting or terrifying happened but in truth he ignored us and sat down for a rest and we went for our coffee.
There are so many ‘grims (Teresa’s name for us pilgrims on account of albergue showers and generally sweaty people) on the path it is almost unpleasant. There are lines of people walking this morning and we know it will only get busier as we get closer to Santiago. So we choose to walk slowly and let all the crowds pass. Then we can walk and simply enjoy the day in peace.
We arrived at Cruz de Ferro just as a coach load of tourists were leaving. I took 4 stones and a bag of lavender… The lavender represents all my family and friends… My wish/blessing request was simple… Keep us safe… Keep us happy.
I felt oddly sad reading the notes and treasures left behind… Letters to loved ones no longer alive… Prayers, hopes, photographs, even a credit card. This ancient pile of wishes… I hope they all come true.
So we left our wishes behind and continued up to Alto de Cerazales… Then on to Manjarin … A deserted village which is now home to Tomas, who claims to be the last of the templars.
The clouds start sweeping in around us as we make the long descent down over some of the worst terrain we’ve walked yet, heading towards El Acebo and tonight’s albergue in the mountains… Tomorrow we’re off to Ponferada and the incredible templar castle.