Sunday, April 14, 2013

Day 24: Foncebaddon - Ponferrada (27.3 kms)

We join the kundalini yoga class at 8 to 9 am at the albergue.  It is different from my usual ashtanga and vinyasa yoga classes but nice too.  After yoga and breakfast, it is already 10 am by the the time we start our hike. We hug then wave goodbye to the hospitelaros, a relaxed bohemian bunch -- Manuel scratching the tummy of Tato d' gato (a black cat), David, Marina, Leila the pilgrim shepherd dog who followed me yesterday on the trail, and Perrina, the black house dog.  Before we go, as my sister, complete with technical eyegear and technical outfit turns to David, he steps back and says with a start -- "wow, you look like a professional pilgrim".  He probably realizes he had made a gaffe and tries to make up by saying "it's the first time I saw you with your sunglasses".  While walking we wonder and laugh about what that could have meant.  From then on, I teasingly call my sister "ProPil".

It is another beautiful day. The sun is out. The sky is blue. The views are breathtaking.

   The world is charged with the grandeur of God.

    It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;

    It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil 

It was Gerard Manley Hopkins who wrote these lines in his poem, God's Grandeur, which I remember from a university class.

It is uphill for about an hour all the way to Cruz de Ferro at an altitude of 1504 meters. We pick up some stones on the way.  Manuel had earlier explained that the stones represent your burdens in the world and you cast them on the hill to free yourself from these burdens. I bring along 3 stones -- they represent my insecurities, regrets, and fears.  I leave them all behind completely on that hill. I add another white stone -- it represents the hope for a life always lived in the now and the present moment.

I remember the hymn we used to sing back at convent school-- "And he says, cast your burdens upon me those who are heavily laden...come to me and I will give you rest".  I later find the passage in a bible app that I have.  It is from Matthew 11:28-30. “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

From Cruz de Ferro, it is downhill to Manjarin, where there is an interesting-looking albergue which has no electricity or running water. After that is El Acebo where we have lunch from 12 to 1 pm-- one of the places with the best tasting food we had on the Camino. It is another very nice-looking town.

It is another very rocky downhill to Molinaseca, again a nice quaint town where I have a chocolate drink at a cafe by the river while my sister takes her usual "Aquarius" drink.  This place is worth a stop, I think.

From here, we follow the main highway on a pedestrian lane, then pass some trails and roads through a town called Campo, and finally reach Ponferrada at about 7 pm.  The municipal albergue is very nice and we get a 4-bed dorm to ourselves with a great view of snow-capped mountains. After a shower, we have dinner and relax at the Restaurant El Triskel close by.  After a time, we realize that it is 5 minutes to 10 pm.  My sister packs her dessert and like Cinderellas, we make a run back for our albergue.  We arrive at exactly 10 pm, although it turns out that the curfew is 10:30 pm for this one -- and the hospitalero, who is waiting outside, says "tranquila, tranquila" (relax, take it easy) when he sees us running.

We wave goodbye to David, Manuel, Marina -- our hospitaleros in Monte Irago Albergue, Foncebadon

Atop Cruz de Ferro, 1504 meters
Los Montes de Leon
Sunny day, beautiful views of snow-capped mountains

Fuzzy cloud formations

Cloud puff messages


Ponferrada Albergue with view of snowcapped mountains

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