Day Four – 26th May 2012 – Wir Schaffen Das!!
Rabanal de Camino – Molinaseca
I had been looking forward to this for a while now.
It was one of the longer and tougher stages from what I read about but reading through guides didn’t prepare me for what was in store.
I woke shortly after 5 this time around and while I was eager to get up and out, I was hoping for another hour of rest.. I barely could see as I got up. The same Germans who stayed in the albergue in Astorga made the first moves and I had no need for my alarm after all.
My eyes were shut while I was putting my sleeping bag away; I can barely remember making coffee and even where my shoes were kept. I managed in the end and eventually a smile broke out in my face as I left the albergue. My legs and back were at me after the climb into Rabanal the day before but I wasn’t going to let that bother me.
While I left, I bumped into a German woman called Sabine who stayed in the same room as me. She kept to herself the evening beforehand and was asleep first. She was up the first this time. I hadn’t planned on walking with anyone today but that changed. Sabine was very upbeat and loved to talk. That wasn’t a bad thing though. She had little English but amazing Spanish and at times she would speak in Spanish and English in the same sentence. I still understood her. I had no idea of German at all so asked her to speak in Spanish if she was unsure of something. Mad!
There was a tough climb leaving Rabanal but once we made it to Foncebadon, 5km later, we were on a roll. I never thought I would walk with Sabine right into Sarria, where I stopped but I guess we were happy with each others’ company.
Once we get to the top of the hill, we reach Foncebadon. It is a run down village with not much life however there was work under way in restoring them while we passed. We stopped off at the first refugio for cafe con leche and a small breakfast. Some of the pilgrims were leaving when we arrived, some of whom Sabine knew. It was good fun there and we were re-energised afterwards as we walked to Cruz de Ferro.
Myself and Sabine had different reasons coming here. She had started in St Jean Pied to Port and was walking for spiritual reasons. I, on the other hand, just wanted to get away from it all and bring some order to this life of mine. Different reasons but we were both happy to get to Cruz de Ferro. It looked great with the sun rising and I’d encourage anyone to go there at this time. I left a keyring that I bought in Santiago last year. Leaving a stone or a picture is the norm but I thought the keyring served me well. I hope it is there when I return. Not much was said here and we took some photos before we continued on.
I was hoping for an end to the climb but there was more before we started to walk down the mountain. As we reached the highest point on the Camino, it was only a matter of time before the descent started.
Before that we reached Manjarin, an eerie place. I wouldn’t quite call it a village and it was deserted until the early 90s when one man made up one of the crumbling houses to an albergue. Officially Manjarin has a population of 1; Tomas who runs the albergue. Just outside, there are directions to various places around the world. None pointed the way to Dublin unfortunately.
Moving on, I quickly discovered that descending a mountain is worse than going up. It is all downhill from here to Molinaseca and while I thought leaving Rabanal that it would be fine, it was a different story now. My legs started to hurt and while my feet were fine, every stop I took made things better for a moment. We were walking down slate and shale rock and I wondered what it would be like if it was raining! We also met many cyclists passing by and they seemed to enjoy the descent. I can’t understand why!
We passed El Acebo and Reigo de Ambros, two villages with many old dwellings, with wooden balconies that hadn’t been lived in for quite a while. There were signs of life however and stopped off for a bite to eat and a cafe con leche in both villages. My shoes…and back needed the rest.
One of the disappointing things about this day is not taking enough pictures or movies as previous days. I was more worried about my feet and not slipping that the amazing sights around me. It was great just stopping and looking around from this great height.
We arrived into Molinaseca just before 1pm, and I was delighted to see the bridge and…well..a sign of life. I had an idea where I wanted to stay for the night..Albergue Santa Maria..on the outskirts of town. It took us a while to find it but it was great to put the bag down and rest for a while.
I met Erica, from Australia and Jean from Canada. They were walking together and started in Pamplona however were in no hurry due to knee and foot problems. They were great fun and I was considering walking with them the next day. My heart sank however when I saw the same German group walk into the Albergue. I knew I would not get a good night sleep now.
It has to be said it is a fine place to stay and it is better to stay here and avoid the hustle and bustle of Ponferrada, the next stop. For the evening, we ate, told stories and had a few drinks in very broken English.