Day 15, 2017 - Villafranca Montes de Oca - Ages


Knowing what one needs,

and acting accordingly

nurtures and renews.


 29°, 7:30am departure, 1:00pm arrival

Last night was cold. I woke early, bandaged my feet, and packed to leave. From the start, the road was familiar...the steep hills out of town, the pine forest, and the change in the color of the earth.

As the sun rose, I stopped at the top of the first hill to take a photo. Although beautiful, the sunrise was much different than the fire in the sky I saw in this place the year before. I concluded the day would be full of comparisons like this.

I walked down a wide basin that looked like a dried river bed sandwiched between pine trees. Like last year, I imagined bandits coming out from behind the trees. My imagination was in full force.

I walked with Moises from San Paulo, Brazil and had a good "walk and talk". He said something interesting when I told him I'd stayed in a private room the night before in the albergue. He said not sleeping in bunk beds with 20-50 people might be good every now and then, but he wasn't yet ready to go the "selfish way". He still wanted to experience the "real Camino". I was reminded that the Camino is unique to everyone who walks it. There's a phrase for that, right? ...with a certain expletive? As for me, an occational stay in a private room, away from the sound of snoring was a good idea! I call it nourishing selfishness.

After all the rain and snow yesterday and the night before, I thought the path would be muddy. Instead, It was packed rock, mounded up in the middle. It drained nicely, with little mud and few puddles. I noticed the earth had changed to a red color, common for well-drained soil.

Moises and I soon parted (bidding each other, buen Camino) and I found myself alone in the forest with "the bandits". Alone, my senses were heightened. Birds were singing and I could smell the pine as I walked. It was a sensory delight but I was ready for my second café con leche! My mantra began with each plant of my stick..."café con leche, café con leche, café con leche"...

With this rhythmic pace, I walked on but suddenly felt a tension in my body. I shuddered for no apparent reason. I reached a place where roadwork had unearthed the bodies of 300 rebels who had fought in the Civil War of 1936 and where a memorial now stood. At that time, Franco had the support of Italy and Germany and a conflict in this exact spot arose. This eery clairsentience I experienced would occur more than once between here and Santiago.

I arrived at the next town, found a café, ordered coffee, recharged my phone and then decided to walk 3.5 more kilometers to the next town. The wind had picked up but thankfully it was at my back. It was a cold, blustery winter-like day in April. I reached for my water bottle, found the water delightfully cold and was grateful.

Cows grazed close to the path. The one with the bell was sleeping. I would be, too if I wore the bell....anything to stop the rhythmic ringing. I often wondered how a cow became the chosen one and for how long. Maybe she was the alpha or maybe the punished. Maybe there was a benefit to wearing the bell. Perhaps like the Camino, it was in the suffering that she was unburdened.