July 2 Triacastela
Once again we had to bounce ahead with a taxi and I don’t like it one bit. We were in Ponferrada this morning with Hayden and the only albergue they had, but the weather was not cooperating. We came in yesterday to Ponferrada from El Acebo in the rain and the cold most of the way. Deb can take the heat and even rain, but cold rain pretty much is her nemesis. We had talked last night that if it was raining this morning we would take a taxi up O’cebrero. This is one of the hardest mountains on the Camino. Not because of its height, at only 1300 some meters it is not the highest point, but it goes up several hundred meters in just a few km. It is very steep.
Yesterday we did the Cruz de Ferro and had no problems at all. Today however it seemed as if the weather was going to turn. When we walked in from the crossWe had stopped at El Acebo I think. That was the new albergue we stayed at.
Then last night we stayed in Ponferadda at a very nice parochial albergue. At first I wasn’t sure they had a place for us but the hospetelero said if we could wait for a little while the guy with the key would be back from eating and we could check a locked room. We are the carracoles (snails) so we didn’t mind at all. We sat and talked to people, I got a shower, and everything was great. The other guy got there and Hayden got there about the same time, so we got a 4 person room all to ourselves. We always watch so if they get full, Deb sleeps in her chair so we could take two more people in the room, but they had plenty of beds, so private room. Awesome.
The next morning we woke up to cloudy weather and a few sprinkles. This albergue you have to be out at 7:30 which is a little early for Deb but we made it and went to the cafeteria by the castle we ate at the day before. There was a girl working there yesterday that Hayden liked so we thought she might still be there. It was her parents and they were very nice.
After some hot tea and cola coa we decided the weather wasn’t going to hold and we needed to jump. Hayden said we could walk that day and then call a cab for o’cebrero. The only problem with that is the cabs cost so much more when they come out from town to take you further. Luis said he would take us to o’cebrero for 65€, which was cheaper than most of the others we had to take and it was further. We were going to skip a day and a half of walking, and there were some things I wanted to see, but we were worried about the chair going up on slick asphalt.
Luis drove us up the mountains using his talk to translate on his phone to tell us quite a bit of the history of the area. He was very nice and we enjoyed his company greatly. When we got to the top of o’cebrero it was locked in fog and you couldn’t see 3 feet in front of your face. He stopped at the albergue at the top and took me inside for a stamp. I didn’t think you could do that but he talked to them and they gave Deb and I each one. We saw our friends from Hungary and Croatia in the bar with over a hundred other pilgrims, they were everywhere trying to warm up. It was very cold at the top. Luis thought it might be safer to take us just a little further to Alto de Pollo where the fog would not be quite so thick for walking the road.
When we got to the Alto we went in to warm up again and saw old and met new pilgrims. Many people were interested in Deb and no one judged us for cheating on the mountain. The owner’s mother was there and brought Deb a croissant and as she left gave her an empanada. While we were hooking up the trailer the owner came out to make sure we knew to take the road and not the path as it was too rocky and steep. The owners of the bars always look out for us. Someone told us and we agree that if you just go in and order something they think of you as a customer. But if you have a problem or need help with something all the people on the Camino will do whatever it takes to help. It brings out the best in everyone here.
Well the road was smooth and the views were amazing. But it was about 4 km longer and by the time we got to Triacastela my feet and calves were on fire. I think the going down is sometimes harder than the going up. Several pilgrims have concurred and most injuries happen going down not up. When we got to the town, I started to go down a hill to the main albergue I had read about but some peregrinos coming up said it was completo. So on into town we went. The next two had stairs, the next two had a youth group had booked the entire albergue, but she called and sent us around the corner to another. It was a little sketchy at first but turned out to be excellent. He showed us to a room that had 3 beds and a bunk bed, the three beds were taken but we just needed the bottom bunk.
It was here we had a lovely conversation with many pilgrims. Our roommates were Annalisa from Denmark, and a married couple, he was from France she was from Spain and they were two of the most pleasant people we had met, very friendly and interesting to talk to. But then I love to talk Deb says. I forget their names if they told us but if they read the blog hopefully they will send us a picture and an email or post to let us know how their Camino finished up. They were almost done, they had already done Sarria to the end and would be in Sarria tomorrow.
We also met a German woman named Astrid who was super friendly, she is one of those open people who can just make friends so easy. She told us she had sold all her belongings, quit her job and is walking the Camino to decide what to do. We have heard of people doing this but this is the first time we met one. We friended her on Facebook and saw her this morning before she left, she hugged us and said she would see us later. Buen Camino Astrid.
I am writing this in the morning waiting for Deb to get up so we can go to Samos and the monastery, we are trying to take a couple of short days to miss the youth group and be able to find a bed. Also I hope Hayden can catch up to us.