VILLAFRANCA to HERRERIAS — 12.5 Miles HERRERIAS to O’CEBREIRO — 5 Miles
This morning I lay in bed wondering how far I’d be able to walk today and if I’d have the strength to do it. I had finally eaten some solid food yesterday, after 2 days of a liquid diet so I was getting my strength back. My stomach problem had been solved and I knew I had to get back out and start walking again.
It was 48 degrees and Dick told me it would be cloudy with no rain. However, when I arrived at the starting point of today’s walk it started to rain. Good thing I had my rain pants handy so I quickly slipped them on.
Now that we were out of the Meseta and into the mountains the terrain had changed and the views were magnificent. There were two routes to choose from to get to Herrerias. One was up over a mountain and the other was around the mountain but bordered a remote road. I knew the mountain would not only be muddy but would kill me trying to climb it. So I stayed on the path next to the road, which was the original Camino path. And I thought it was breathtakingly beautiful.
The rain wasn’t bad, it even stopped at times while a heavy mist clung in the air. But the best part was, the path wasn’t muddy. It ran alongside a little river sporting white water rapids or the occasional little waterfall and a swift current. The sound of the river, along with the chirping of birds and the beautiful scenery took my mind off the fact that I was walking next to a road. Because this was a secondary road I hardly ever saw any cars. And the one thing I was loving was — walking alone.
For some reason there seemed to be more trekkers than I was used to seeing, some walking alone, some in pairs and some in groups. I was walking slower today than I normally did but I was enjoying every minute of it. There were several little villages to walk through, some that seemed like old ghost towns and others lively with trekkers and Bars open for trade.
When Dick texted me and said we could have coffee in the next village I couldn’t believe I had already walked 8 miles. When I met him we walked into a little bar that was filled with loud trekkers and I decided I didn’t need any coffee, just a little break.
There was a statue outside the Bar with a special sign below it and as I was standing there another young girl standing next to me pointed to the sign, looked at me, I started clapping then we both started squealing and jumping up and down with delight. We never said another word to each other!
The walk continued on, through little villages and as trekkers we seemed to spread out and I felt like I was walking alone again.
After 12 miles of walking I had had enough for the day. The path would now go up a pretty steep mountain for the next 5 miles and I knew I couldn’t do it. But Dick had made hotel reservations at the top of that mountain in the village of O’Cebreiro. My Camino Concierge needed to come get me and drive me up there. This morning I had told him to get us a large Hotel room, that was nice and warm with heat, had 2 big beds and a blow dryer in the bathroom. And he was to look at the room to make sure it had all of that before he paid for it. So here’s what he did. He went to the O’Cebreiro Hotel Rustico, booked a room, with one double bed, and paid for it without looking at it. And here it is.
It was freezing cold with no heat and no hair dryer in the bathroom. And the bathroom was so small there was no place to put the toilet paper except on the lid of the toilet tank. And the pillow! There was only one long pillow stretched across the bed.
Dick loved this whole 1 block long little village and when we were about to eat lunch he said he felt like it was Christmas. Christmas? It felt like Winter to me, it was freezing, it was raining and you could see your breath outside. But I was very happy that he was even able to get us a room here because everything else was sold out (or so he said!).
This is the village church that dates back to the 9th century.
We had read about a priest, Father Don Elias Valina Sampedro who was the parish priest at this church. It was his idea to mark the Camino with the familiar yellow arrows. And I believe that without these arrows not many people would be walking the Camino today. He also restored the building where Dick and I were staying. He passed away in 1989, is buried there and his bust sits outside the church.
We walked into the church a little later that evening and I realized Mass was about to start. So we decided to stay. It was said in Latin and Spanish with a small part in English. At the end of Mass there was a celebratory blessing for all of us walking the Camino.