From Maine to Spain (and back)

Foncebadon to Ponferrada (34km/21mile/42,405steps) – the day started off with a quick 20 minute climb to the Cruz Ferro or Iron Cross which is the highest point on the Camino and where pilgrims for decades have placed a stone at the foot of the cross, symbolically relieving themselves of their sins and burdens. Tradition dictates that the stone is to brought from home and carried all this way. Hence I brought a small stone. The stone that I placed at the cross was one I had taken off the beach on Peaks Island, Maine, nowhere creates perfectly round stones like the Maine coast. Don’t worry though I picked a small granite stone up off the trail a few days ago to put on the beach on Peaks at the end of the summer. Seemed like a fair trade. And yes I am obsessed with the weight of my pack but I am carrying stone with me – oh tradition.

The day continued with what I believe may be the prettiest day of walking I have ever had. While the trail was quite challenging and we did get a few sprinkles the last few miles Mother Nature was really showing off her stuff today. I walked for 6ish hours through the mountains dropping into small valley hamlets and back up again. It was not only beautiful it was really fun.

One sad point was that I did obverse many folks walking in sandals because of hurting feet and I came across a young women who had tripped, fallen and cut her head open on the rock – she seemed in amazingly good spirits despite all the blood but her companions were taking good care of her and an ambulance was called.

As you walk the Camino not a day goes by that you do not see at least one memorial to either a person who died walking the Camino or a person for whom this trail meant a lot. Today I saw one with a saying I have never heard before but really like. I’ll end with the quote and some picks from what was a really good walk today.

Peace

The boat is safer anchored in the port; but that is not the point of boats

Actual Knights Templar Castle

600 down and 200 to go

Somewhere between yesterday and today we pasted the 600km mark. That leaves us with 200~km to go. Today’s walk was really nice and easy. 24km (15miles) of rolling hills through small villages, family farm plots and vineyards. It was a nice break for my feet and a chance for some good conversation along the way. The weather was forecasted to be rainy, but it turned out to be a nice cool day. For those of you who have been wondering the weather since those first couple of days of rain, sleet and snow has been beautiful – far beyond anything that I expected or could have hoped for. The mornings and nights have been cool and the days warm and sunny. All that is about to change.
Tomorrow we begin 2 of the most physically demanding days of the camino, there are three mountain ranges on the Camino and the third starts tomorrow, and it looks like a big storm is on its way – in fact it looks like the sky is about to open up any minute now.
Tonight is the first chance I have had to cook since I have been here. I am making a basic pasta with meat sauce and salad with some good local bread and red wine for the folks I have been walking with. The kitchen is small and poorly equipped in the hostel we are staying in and is presenting a bit of a problem, but no worries – all is well. While it will not be the best meal I have ever made it will be nice to share it with new friends. We eat together nearly 3 times a day but it is always different when you can offer the fruits of ones labors to others and the kitchen table is where I am the most comfortable doing that. It is also always interested to cook for a group of people from a mix of cultures and with a mix of likes and dislikes. If it is not a disaster of a meal I might share some pic tomorrow or the next day.

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