Keith and Claire are amazing hospitaleros. They went out of their way to make sure everyone was warm, dry, and welcome last night. Our room at the Guacelmo was full - lots of cold and wet peregrinos. Keith and Claire kept the fireplace going, served everyone hot tea and biscuits, and put paper in everyone's boots to dry them out (they went through the additional steps of drying Alex's boots and Sage's shoes with a hair dryer).
Keith played cards with me and the girls until it was time for us to go to bed. Everyone retired rather early; the large room seemed very quiet by 9:30. We were woken with music this morning at 6:45 and there was coffee and toast waiting for us when we came downstairs. On our way out, I noticed the beautiful orchard...didn't see it yesterday when I came in because I was soaked to the core and shivering.
Lovely albergue - I am so glad we stayed there! Thank you, Keith and Claire!
As we left Rabanal del Camino and climbed up, to, and through Foncebadon...the wind picked up and the rain started to fall...we had to be conservative with our photo-taking.
Up and past Foncebadon, up to the highest point on the Camino - Cruz de Ferro.
Cruz de Ferro.
The peregrina traditionally leaves a stone on this rock pile. Usually, the stone comes from the pilgrim's homeland and represents something the pilgrim wishes to leave behind, commemorate, or pray for. Alex read something when she placed her stone on the pile; Sage, Hugh, and I each said our words voicelessly.
I don't know what I expected to feel after leaving my stone. Some feel immense relief, others find the process liberating and/or spiritual. I simply felt matter-of-fact. I'm not one for resolutions or self-help promises, for I find that such "I'll fix myself" statements hold little real value. Any time I've ever made a promise to myself to do better/give that up/conform to everyone else's shoulds and shouldn'ts...etc...it just ends with me feeling guilty and resentful. When I left my stone, I left everything I don't care about behind. Toxic people in my life - gone. Any societal expectation that I don't personally agree with - forget about it. Associating with any tongue-wagging gossip-types -- no more. None of that was a brand-new thing for me, but leaving the stone was a nice reaffirmation. Nothing profound...just matter-of-fact.
We left Cruz de Ferro feeling happy....and then Alex realized she couldn't find her hat. That blue hat has been on many on a winter 4K and highpoint...Hugh graciously offered to go back and look for it. He proceeded to bike back down the four miles we had just walked while we carried on. We agreed we'd meet in Riego de Ambros at the end of the day if he didn't find us on the trail beforehand.
Down a bit, up a bit, with mountain views and low clouds. Felt a bit like the Bonds in NH (minus most of the rocks...and with the occasional road crossing). Then the trail took a turn for the steep as we descended into the mountain town of Acebo.
Alex suddenly realized she had her hat after all...luckily, Acebo has WiFi. We stopped into the local pub (which was crammed with tired and wet pilgrims) and I sent Hugh a message. He showed up fifteen minutes later by coincidence...he had given up the search and was looking for us along the Camino.
We ate, we drank, we continued to Riego de Ambros.
We decided to stay at the pension Riego de Ambros tonight. We haven't stayed in a pension before. Riego de Ambros is owned by a lovely lady who rents the upstairs rooms to passing pilgrims. There are two bright and comfortable doubles that share a bathroom; we happily took those and are now cozily lounging about, admiring the view from the windows.
It might be somewhat of a long day tomorrow. Will probably shoot for Cacabelos (about 28.7 kilometers). This pension doesn't have WiFi so I'll have to stop and post this entry somewhere along The Way tomorrow.
Misc. comment - this is a working "vacation" for Hugh. He often stays up late to finish a patent, and he sometimes catches up with us down the road because he needs to take business calls mid-afternoon. His bike has been invaluable. We can keep walking knowing he'll quickly find us when his work is finished. It's impossible for him to leave his career behind on a trip such as this, and I'm impressed with his ability to juggle.
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