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Learning to Walk, Day 59, Tuesday, October 25, Santa Catalina de Somoza to Foncedabon, 17-18 km

October 25, 2022

Today was a gorgeous walk, starting with the sunrise as I left Santa Catalina. I’ve been waiting at least until it is light enough to walk rather than hard dark, which means later and later starts—8:30 this morning. You have to remember to turn around and check on the sunrise since you are always walking away from it on the Camino.

At first the mountains seemed so far away. I thought, “surely I’m not going to cover that much ground in one day? They have to be more than 17-18 km.” But I did, in fact, reach them—at least the beginning of them. The second half of the day was a steady uphill, but not very steep except for a couple of short stretches. It felt good to be climbing again, and my feet did SO much better because there was very little pavement today, almost entirely dirt road and dirt/stony path.

Looks like it will have to be one photo at a time again, and less of them. Those last three took forever to load. Sigh.

This was in the village of El Ganso. So many of the little villages I am walking through the past couple of days are a mix of inhabited houses and ruins. In some of the villages there are clearly efforts to restore them. And many “se vende” (for sale) signs—sometimes on habitable houses, and often on ruins.
The front of this was beautiful, but behind it was a ruin.
The famous (or infamous?) Cowboy Bar in El Ganso. Closed. But I found a lovely place open for a cafe con leche at the far end of the village. With a very kind old man who came out and helped me with my backpack when he saw me struggling with it, then made sure I didn’t leave my poles behind. Because I stayed “off stage” I was walking alone for the most part for the first couple of hours—everyone else who stayed further back hadn’t caught up with me yet. I was his only customer, but I imagine more came through as the morning went on.
Another locked church. And my daily stork’s nest photo.
Yes. I’m going to start into those mountains by the end of the day.
Starting to climb.
People had stuck branches in the fence to make crosses all along the path here.

I stopped in Rabanel del Camino for lunch, and to get out of the rain. And, drum roll, there was an open church!! I think because it was associated with the monastery across the street. You can stay at the monastery if you want time for reflection, but you have to stay at least two nights. Which makes sense. There not a whole lot of time for reflecting when you arrive, eat, do laundry, and have to get up early and start walking the next day.

The church was very old and simple. Could have done without the carpet. But since the monastery uses this church most days, I’m sure the carpet is warmer than the stone floor in the cold weather.
Not sure I would trust this balcony!
Some blue peeking through!
Looking back.
Foncebadon, where I’m staying tonight, was nothing but ruins until about 2000, when people started rebuilding. Now there are a few albergues and restaurants. Here is what my guidebook says about it: in the 10th century a church council took place here, and in the 11th century a hermit, Gaucelmo founded a pilgrims’ refuge. This village was an important station on the Camino centuries ago, but was abandoned and fell into ruins until 2000. If you have read Paulo Coelho’s book on the Pilgrimage/Camino (I don’t actually recommend it. There are far better books on the Camino, and I find much of the spirituality in his books questionable and a bit shallow. Sorry if you are a big fan!) this is where he fights his demon dog. Apparently some guidebooks and novels (Coelho’s included) have led to Foncebadon having a reputation for rabid dogs. That is no longer a worry.

Tomorrow I climb a bit more, 2 km to one of the most famous and significant points along the Camino, Cruz de Ferro. This is where pilgrims place the rock they have carried with them, often signifying a burden they are leaving behind. I have carried two small stones with me to place there—one from the coast of Maine and one from Iona—two places that are the most dear to my heart and renewing for me. I wanted to leave something that symbolized renewal and rest and gifts from the ocean, which never fails to restores my mental and emotional health—which is also the purpose of this sabbatical after a few challenging, stressful years! Maine, Iona and walking across France and Spain, they all represent Sabbath for me (well, I worked my butt off on Iona, but it is still a place of renewal)— taking a real break from work and daily life to rest, remember, reflect, gain new perspective, and be restored by God’s creation, both nature and the people you share those breaks with, whether they are old friends or new.

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  1. dianner212 permalink

    “…all represent Sabbath for me”.. I’m so glad you’re sharing it with us.

  2. Nancy permalink

    Very nice Beverly. Thank you for sharing this.

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