On a morning we could sleep in, we woke up early. The rhythm has become early to bed and early to rise. This isn’t every pilgrim’s rhythm but we have settled into and it was working well for us. So by 7:40 a.m. we were making our way out of Cacabelos and further along the Way.
Early on we came to the official marker that we were only 200 kilometers away from Santiago. Then we were back into active vineyards until we reached Villa del Bierzo. Alone this stretch we came across a house on a hill, surrounded by the vineyard. It was white and stood out in the landscape in a way that guaranteed it would be one of the most photographed houses along the Camino.
As we walked by, a Spanish couple were coming down a different path. They were well dressed and were obviously locals, maybe even owners of the vineyard. They were also yelling at each other in Spanish. I said, “good morning” to them in Spanish and wished them a Buen Camino. They ignored me but stopped yelling at each other. At least for a moment as we pilgrims walked by.
At Villafranca del Bierzo we faced a choice. First we chose the path that looked easiest but then realized it would be following the highway and we’d be walking beside traffic and road the whole rest of the way. Then we opted to retrace our steps and take an alternate path, maybe an older path. That way led up. And up. We walked a long time and expended a lot of energy before we had walked one kilometer.
But once we were up we were rewarded by the view. It felt like the road less taken. We say six other pilgrims on this way. Eventually we found ourselves not only surrounded by beauty but covered by rain. The way forward got wet and muddy. It was a longer way but we were compensated. Slipping in and out of conversation with God seems so easy on the Way. It felt like God was walking with me in ways that were new and tangible.
We arrived at Trebadelo, high above the town. As we descended and found our Albergue we also realized we were tired, soaked and very hungry. We walked back out to the edge of town near the highway and when in to a restaurant that seemed uninterested or unwilling to have our business. It could have been time of day or it could have been that we looked like drown rats but eventually we were seated and we were through our first basket of bread and onto our second. We enjoyed a filling meal and then made our way to our albergue for the night which felt like an old inn that was being run by a delightful woman who welcomed us in and made us feel at home.
Some of my Camino lessons from this day were:
1) Your goal is always further away than it looks – BUT – you will get there if you don’t give up.
2) Sometimes the hardest way provides the greatest rewards.
3) Sometimes the dodgiest exteriors hide the greatest treasure.
My final note on this day was, “It is hard to believe that 2 weeks today, Bill will be home and I will be in Ireland. And life will get complicated again. Things stay pretty simple on the Camino.”