Day 27 (30km)
Cacabelos – Ruitelán
We awake to alarms going off, then stopping, then going off again, then off, then on, and so on. Get up already or don’t set am alarm… Geez! So much for “sleeping in” which is equal to waking up “naturally”. The sky is clear with stars still twinkling in the dark morning sky. It is 0700. Thanks to Franco who sided with Hitler in WWII, Spain is still two hours behind the rest of the EU.
As such the sun does not begin to rise till nearly 0830. Even if the sun came up at the “normal” time, I think Spain would still not stir till 10am anyways. We road walk till a sign directing us to San Clemente appears. Well I guess we could have walked to Santiago from “home” and back, we joke.
From here we walk through rolling vineyards and tiny villages crawling with cats.
We now understand the movie “Fivell goes to America”…” there are no cats in America…” the mice sing. It is bitter cold this morning as we reach Villafranca del Bierzo tucked into an alpine setting with a river running through it. Of course we climb up into the city and promptly walk down into it and then back up.
We pass no less than three “ancient” churches with a grand castle (Castillo Palacio de los Marqueses) perched above the majority of the town. Our plan was to take the “high” road, but somehow we missed it and ended up taking the “grey” route as opposed to the recommended “yellow” route. The grey route parallels the major highway, so we miss the high alpine views, but then we miss all that climbing and descending and the hot sun as there is no cover for the 15km of the “high” route. Paul is not happy about this, but I on the other hand am as pleased as punch. Besides, I do not picture St. James nor the trade route purposely climbing over a mountain when there’s a perfectly good narrow valley that follows a river that will get you to the same place, so I say we are still on the “actual” path of St. James. So far every “wrong turn” we have made has been fortuitous for us, even our “short cuts”, which in fact turns out to NEVER be shorter. About midway on the “grey” route (about the time we would be descending on the “yellow” route), sharp pains attack the instep of my left foot. I fear that this is the beginning of a stress fracture. I try several ways to walk to reduce or alleviate the pain. Some work some don’t. It is time to break out the KT tape, to hopefully hold things together long enough to get to an albergue and get off my feet. I am thankful the tread is flat and smooth, otherwise the pain would be more than excruciating. Paul, as I, am definitely concerned, as this may be a trail ender. The tape provides some relief. I slam two ibuprofen and walk on. I “will” the pain away and focus on the scenery.
We leave the “highway” and walk through narrow valleys and several villages, once frequented by many a traveler until the cement highways were built overhead. It is a beautiful peaceful walk, with no one else around (because it’s after 2pm), on a narrow country road with small farms, grazing cattle, sheep and goats. Quaint homes with large gardens and a stream filled with Brook trout (trucha). Eventually the pain is unbearable, and we stop at a perfectly timed albergue in Ruitelán ( Refugio de Peregrinos Pequeño Potala ).
Here we have a fabulous dinner provided by the hospitaliers and are instructed that we are to sleep in until 0700…that getting up any earlier and rustling about before then would NOT be tolerated. Yeah! And with that we sleep, hoping that tomorrow will be void of any foot pain.
Be Strong! Austin Strong!