Day 23. El Ganso to El Acebo

Alarms started going off soon after 6. I can’t quite fathom why people can’t turn them off. When I turn over my moneybelt plops on the floor so I get up, retrieve it and the phone and use the bathroom. By the time I return, Monique has departed so I drag my sleeping bag to the bottom bunk and rest for a bit but very soon the landing light goes on so I might as well get up.
There’s a big grumble from the young yank who stumbled in noisily last night, hours after everyone else had retired. Payback’s a bitch.
I’m on the road a 7 and it’s raining and pitch black. I don’t have a torch but can just make out the direction of the path. I’ve got my full weather gear on. I can see a walker with a head torch has stopped ahead so I pull up behind him and say I’m happy to walk behind him as I don’t have a torch. Sven from Hamburg is happy to comply so off we go. He stops to go around puddles that I just wouldn’t see. 30 minutes in and he takes to the road but at this pace I’m getting too hot and sweaty so I let him go on.
I’m at Rabinal del Camino by 9 and find a place for black coffee and orange juice. I give Ian a call as it’s his 62nd birthday and I call him every year.
I take off the rain pants to discover my trousers are damp anyway.
The next section is a 200 metre climb to Foncebadon.
It’s a fairly steep climb and the path is a bit muddy with standing and running water and a lot of broken shale rock.
I pull into the village very slowly at 11.20 which is a reasonable time for a climbing day and I have covered 12k in 4 hours of walking.
There’s a restaurant with “Gaia” in the title. This should be interesting.
The waitress explains that they open in 10 minutes but please have a seat.
I order a venison stew and beer. Another lady comes in, French, and orders the pumpkin soup and something else. My meal is huge and I finish the meat but have to leave a few potatoes. After, I order black tea but it turns out to be some nutty thing which I drink anyway because it’s hot.
Halfway through its 12 so I call Ali and it’s nice to have a chat. I can hardly wait the days till we meet up.
I head off at 12.30 with just a short stop for a bottle of coke for my developing cold. I have always used full strength coke to help me get over them.
The wind has picked up and it’s freezing. I’ve put my little front pack behind under the rain cover because I got my map wet this morning. I debate to get the gloves out but push on.
It seems no time before I’m at Cruz de Ferro. I didn’t realise but the pile borders a road. I whip out the ugly little rock I’ve been carrying since St-Jean and place it near the top. Then I sit on a bench and eat an apple.
Pilgrims carry a rock on the Camino to represent the things they are atoning for and deposit it at this spot as a symbol of forgiving. I meant to take one from our garden but the time pressures from work made my departure chaotic and I forgot. So I picked up the ugliest little rock I could find on the road out of St Jean. It’s now resting peacefully at Cruz de Ferro. The pile is so big it’s spilling into the road.
As I walk on it begins to rain lightly so I do up my jacket and pull the hood out. If I walk too fast it just builds up heat and that leads to sweat so it’s a nice steady pace dodging puddles. My socks are wet through but my feet seem OK.
It doesn’t take long for me to reach Monjarin and I just keep going after taking some photos.
I meet some ladies at a point where the Camino departs from the road. It appears the local advised sticking to the road as the path is washed out. I walk with them a bit but prefer to walk at my pace so let them go. As it is, they keep stopping so I’m regularly overhauling them.
It gets down to a little after 4 and I pull off to sit with Mr and Mrs Lee from Korea who overtook me about half an hour back. Mr Lee kindly gives me his rock to sit on, which is fantastic because I’ve been walking for 4 hours without a break. We chat a bit and some others turn up. I look on my on-board map and it’s about 1k down the hill to El Acebo.
I set off on a fairly difficult washed out gulley but shuffle into town just before 5. A guy hands me a flyer for a new Albergue and I’m there in no time just before heavy rain hits.
I’m in a room of 8 bunks with a Swiss lady named Floriane and it looks like we have it to ourselves.
I civilise myself and then slip into bed shivering. I discover I’ve left my beloved jumper at El Ganso. What a bummer! And I’m really good at checking my stuff. I just can’t figure out how I missed it.
Ok, laundry time and then eating cause there’s no time for tears.
I’m starting to cough so I hope this doesn’t get worse because tomorrow is rain again.
Surprisingly the clothes dried in 12 minutes but it was an awesome industrial strength unit.
Dinner was a Coles cafeteria affair. I didn’t engage anyone and I’m feeling a bit miserable with a cold and no jumper. We will just have to see what tomorrow brings. Apart from more rain that is. On the plus side I walked a pretty respectable distance today.
Buen Camino.

Overlooking Ponferrada

At Cruz de Ferro

El Acebo at last!

My ugly little rock unburdened



4 responses to “Day 23. El Ganso to El Acebo

  1. Don’t let a sniffle put you off-I’m enjoying the blog too much! Seriously we’re all doing this in spirit with you–it’s a mighty effort and you’re on the home run.

  2. “payback’s a bitch”
    “I always use full strength coke” for a cold
    “I can hardly wait the days til we meet up”
    “I civilise myself”
    “..then eating because there’s no time for tears”

    John, apart from the herculean struggle and sore feet, I feel like I’m there with you.


    • It’s difficult to put into word the requirement to haul your ass over the Spanish landscape. The thing is you just follow the arrows without any real concept of what’s ahead. But every so often I think about how far I’ve come today and it just blows my mind. JJ

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