Rabanal del Camino to Molinaseca

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September 25th 2017
Published: September 25th 2017
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As usual, we left the albergue around 7:30, accompanied by John, Alex and Livija. Today we planned on keeping on schedule to arrive early on the 3rd of October for Raresh's birthday. He has changed his flight to leave on the 4th instead of continuing on to Finnesterra. I had a cup of coffee and some vanilla wafers before we left. Our first town was Foncebadon, about 6 kilometers down, or should I say up, the trail. Today was to be a lot of ups and downs. In Foncebadon we ate breakfast at Ponte Irago to steel ourselves for the last 2 kilometers to the famous Cruz de Fero, or iron cross, where you are supposed to leave a rock or message representing a burden or emotion you feel.

I had picked up a cool looking rock before Astorga to leave there. In Astorga I had planned on buying paint or permanent markers to paint my rock. I was going to put JCP in red, white, and blue, and MJP in red, yellow and red, representing the two countries my wife and I came from. Unfortunately, after searching around Astorga, the best I could come up with without spending a lot of money, was a black permanent marker. So, I put our initials, along with a plus symbol, surrounded by a heart. I know, not very original or artistic, but I felt it got the point across that I missed my wife.

Sooner than I'd expected, the Cruz de Fero came in sight. It was really cool to see in person, instead of all the videos and photos I'd seen, especially after all I'd gone through to get there. I waited until the crowd thinned out a bit, then had Raresh take a photo of me and my rock, then a video of me placing it. We all did something similar, took a good break, then headed on towards Molinaseca. The next stop was 2 1/2 kilometers, at the Refugio Monjarin. We normally wouldn't stop so soon, but this was a place I'd heard and seen a lot of. It's a hole in the wall sort of place run by whom I'd heard was one of the last true Templar Knight, helping pilgrims. He offers food, drinks, and even a place to sleep (although very crude) all for donations. Soon after I went in to have my credential stamped, he told me it was time for his devotions. Sure enough, he came in a Templar Knight hooded cape and a sword and gave a 10 or 15 minute prayer, blessing, etc.

Seven grueling kilometers later, we reached El Acebo. It had been some very rough downhill, and when the others wanted to sit on a hilltop for an extended break, I got up, put my gear on and told them I'd see them in the next time. I guess I am pretty agile still, since I must have passed a couple dozen pilgrims on the way, ordered a coffee, and had gotten well into it before the others showed up. I told them there wasn't much at this place good for lunch, so after a short break,, we got up to continue on. At this point, John, Alex and Livija told us they were staying there instead of continuing on to Molinaseca. We said our goodbyes and headed out, looking for someplace else to eat lunch. We had almost resigned ourselves to going on to Molinaseca when we saw the fancy new albergue on the outskirts of town. Good thing, because while we ate lunch there, a lady came up to me and asked if I was an American, then when I said yes, she started saying something about credentials. Because she was speaking Catalan, it took me a while to realize she was asking if I had lost my credentials. I checked the pouch in backpack and realized I'd left them at the Templar Knight place. She told me the guy had given them to another pilgrim who was combing the town we'd almost left, for me. I hurriedly left my unbeaten lunch and hurried back up the road looking for a big guy with a green shirt. Thank heavens, I spotted him coming the road at about the same time he asked me if I was John. You have to have your credential to receive your certificate of completion, so to speak, in Santiago. Yes, I could have gotten a new one, but this has so many stamps and memories in it.

After thanking the man and giving him a hug, I returned to the albergue to finish my lunch. The next 9 kilometers or so went by pretty quickly, even though we had another section of very rocky downhill. We walked part of the way with Peter, a guy from England who has done the Camino something like 23 times. When Raresh stopped to take care of something, he kept going. Raresh and I flew down the last couple of rough kilometers, passing s good number of pilgrims. I guess his knee was better today, since he usually has trouble.

We entered Molinaseca around 3pm and finally found our albergue just on the further outskirts of town. We'd called ahead from El Acebo to reserve two beds at the Albergue Santa Marina. This albergue is quite nice, and we got beds on the bottom floor instead of the usual 2 or 3 floors up. Also, for the first time, I got a single, non-bunkbed bed! We did our usual routine, then headed back up into town to look for either someplace inexpensive to eat, or a supermarket to buy something. We ended up sharing an order of Patatas Bravas at the Mason El Palacio right next to the cool bridge into town. Afterwards, since it was not really enough, we stopped at a supermarket and picked up a microwavable dish of canalones de carne to get some protein.

Tomorrow, we plan on walking to Cacabelos, about 22 kilometers away, passing through Ponferrada, where we'll probably stop for a heavy breakfast or light lunch.

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