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Camino de Santiago, Day 34: Murias de Rechivaldo to El Acebo

Rock at Cruce de Ferro

Rock at Cruce de Ferro

What an incredible day!

The Start of the Day

Jamie and I stayed at the same alburgue in Murias de Rechivaldo but on opposite sides of the room.  Beside me, a Norwegian woman persisted in packing and repacking her bag (which seemed to consist of only the most crinkly, noisy plastic bags) well past lights out and then began again at 6 am.  I gave her the death stare but it seemed to have no effect.  Perhaps she was not human.

We had two big cups of coffee in a sunny courtyard before setting out.  Jamie, feeling more energetic, went ahead on the trail.  Again, we said goodbye and that we would meet in a few days.

The Trail

For hours I walked on a flat trail in the scorching sun, my scarf over my head.  Whenever I came across a fountain, I dipped my scarf in it and laid it atop my burning head.  It was dry again in minutes.

There is evidence of agriculture everywhere and yet never on your dinner plate.  In my 35 years of vegetarianism and travels all over the world, Spain wins the contest of “Most Challenging”.  I have lived on white bread, white asparagus, pasta, eggs and cheese for two months now.  A big salad is in my future when I get back to the states.

The walk was unexpectedly long.  After 17 kilometers, I arrived in Foncebadon and every bed in town was taken.  I briefly chatted with Javier, the party guy, who was soaking both feet in a tub of water, reporting that his blisters were so bad that he couldn’t go further.  I took a look.  He wasn’t exaggerating. He begged the hospitalero to let me stay there, (he said I could have his bed and he would sleep on the floor)  but no luck.  Very sweet though on Javier’s part.  THAT is the Camino spirit.

I continued on and by now it was past 4 pm so I walked alone. I climbed up and up on rocky trails.

Cruce de Ferro

Cruce de Ferro

Cruce de Ferro and the rocks of many sins.

I then saw the iron cross on the peak of the mountain (Cruce de Ferro) where thousands of pilgrims deposit rocks with their prayers and intentions written on them.  Many have carried the rocks from home.  The idea is that you carry a rock equal in weight to your sins and then deposit the rock there for forgiveness.  I came unprepared.  With mind power I tried to insert prayers into a rock I found beside the trail and tossed it onto the heap.

Twenty meters later, at the highest point of the whole Camino so far (1508 meters or almost 5000 feet) I met Giovanni, from Milan, Italy who is walking the Camino (his third time) from Lourdes to Fatima.  He didn’t speak a word of English.  I don’t speak a word of Italian.  Somehow we had a great conversation for the next two hours.

We continued on to Manjarin, four kilometers away, which I’d heard mixed reports about.  The sound of crickets was overwhelmingly loud.  I didn’t like the feeling there.  At all.  There in an alburgue that I had heard about, run by the man who thinks he’s one of the Knights of Templar.  Tattered flags waved in the hot air.  I stopped in his place for a water and couldn’t leave quick enough.  Anger. Stillness. Decay. Crickets. Death. Yucky.

Ciao Giovanni!

Giovanni and I moved on.  While the walk was incredibly beautiful with wildflowers bursting everywhere, fluffy cartoon clouds, and sweeping views forever, I was so tired and hot that it was hard to enjoy.

Taking a rest, Giovanni taught me the word for knees: “ginocchio.”  I exclaimed “Oh! Like Pinocchio!” which he thought was very funny.  Later I thought I was referring to my knees when I said “finnochios” which made him laugh heartily.  He said “finnochio” meant “gay”. Which now explains why the famous drag club in San Francisco’s Italian North Beach is called “Finnochios”.  It’s all becoming clear now!

Walking further, I pulled out the only Italian phrase I knew, taught to me by my Italian ex-grandmother-in-law and said “Porca Miseria!” (the misery of the pigs!) which was about as apropos as a saying could be at the time – walking on sharp, slippery, crumbly shale rock uphill then downhill for miles.  He loved this.

I then started using my new Italian vocabulary with terms I already knew thereby telling stories of gay spaghetti and Pinocchio’s knees and gay Pinocchio making gelato. Giovanni thought I was a riot.  Or an idiot.  Hard to tell.  But, he was suffering too and at least we were laughing.  He continuously reminded me that we were on an “adventura”.

Finally in the distance and below us was El Acebo.  It might as well have been a kettle of gold I was so happy.  We arrived at 6 pm.  I found a bed (the one on the floor that they kindly save for latecomers) and got a message that Jamie was in the same town!  For days we have been trying to separate but we keep ending up together.  A lot like our relationship really.

Giovanni joined me at dinner and poured some red wine in my Coca-Cola insisting that this was a good beverage.  Wrong.  When Jamie joined me I could feel Giovanni giving him the once over.  Not terribly comfortable. Not sure how I got myself into this.  Giovanni paid five euros to set up his tent in the restaurant’s garden.  I walked with Jamie to his hostel.  I returned to my bed on the floor and slept like the dead.  And I never saw Giovanni again.  And that is the Camino.

And that is the Camino.

Today we both walked 32.2 kilometers or 20 miles.

Photos of the Day:


One Comment

  1. I totally envisioned a younger Giovanni and then I saw the picture. I’m excited reading this…I want an adventure, but at the same time, I want a job I love cause eventually I’m going to need one. Reading about your 35 years of vegetarianism reminded me of bacon. Haha…

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