Camino de Santiago Day Twenty-nine to Thirty-one

Villafranca Del Bierzo to Las Herrerias to Fonfria to Samos

We left Villafranca Del Bierzo and began our ascent up the valley. We are following the Rio Valcarnes river along the old highway and crossing the main, new highway built on ginormous structures. It's actually a little bit of a challenge to walk hours when it would take minutes in a car or bus.

Our morning prayer desires to "behold the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in His temple." Sometimes that is a church, and we have been welcomed into beautiful ancient places of worship. But this stretch is the beauty of creation--green lush hills, animals and birds, streams and flowers exploding in wonder and life. 

We spent the night in Las Herrerias and enjoyed this view of the cows grazing in the meadow. We watched the storm clouds move into the valley. This hostel is owned by David. His family converted his grandfather's barn into rooms and a restaurant. He's 31 and partners with his sister. He works non-stop for seven months and then closes the doors for five months. This year he's traveling to Vancouver BC and down to San Diego to improve his English. I wouldn't raise a family here. You have to go to the big cities like Madrid, London or somewhere in the States, he told us. 

But this is a beautiful location. We said. 

I know. I'm lucky but I'm not happy.

This is actually the challenge of all these small towns. There is no work for young people. The buildings of the villages are aging and so are the people. A 70 year old woman sitting next to a 90 year old told us today that this village is falling apart and we don't know how long we will be here. There's no work, our taxes are too high and the government spends more on tourists than improving our village.


At La Faba we stopped at the San Andres church which was restored by a German pilgrim foundation. We heard about it from German hospitaleros we met weeks ago in Pamplona. I went inside and reflected in Psalm 139--there is a lot of movement in this psalm of walking and resting and still experiencing God's presence, that we are fearfully and wonderfully made by our creator-father who knows us and searches our hearts to see if there is any evil "Camino" in me and to lead us in the "Camino" everlasting (how the Spanish translates "way").

Every time we stop to rest or eat, we take the opportunity to tend to our feet. I'm McGyver figuring out how to patch the inside of my shoe heel with Compede, Moleskin and Superglue. We can hardly believe our feet and our bodies are healthy and walking six hours a day. 

We crossed in Galicia and this stretch is by far the most beautiful we have seen--dark greens, slate, rust and purple for as far as you can see.

This is beginning to look more like Ireland, and in fact, the Gallegos and the Irish share a Celtic heritage. It continues to rain off and on up the path with cows and small villages.

As we crossed the highest pass of our 1500mt ascent the afternoon rain began. We stopped for coffee and watched Nadal win a game of the final match and continued on to Fonfria and Casa Lucas where we were warmly received in this home that's been passed down for as long as Cecil can remember. She and her family have spent the last year converting the home-cow barn into a bar, then restaurant, then hostel. Her husband made us a fire (this spring's weather has bren terrible, he reminded us) while e enjoyed our home cooked meal. 

I'm the morning it had stopped raining and we walked in the foggy hills through more small villages, cow pastures, paths covered in sanctuary-like branches and defined by moss and ivy covered slate walls and ancient hermitages and churches.

This chestnut tree is 800 years old and has a circumstance of over 8 meters. It's one of the most photographed trees in Spain.

There are times when it's just the two of us walking the Camino. The beauty is stunning, as if it was there just for us. Who else saw this today? Why are we so blessed to see this? The creation cries out God's praise. And we are part of that creation made with the capacity for awe and wonder. 

I've also been meditating on Psalm 103 

Praise the Lord, O my soul... and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your sins, heals all your diseases, redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion so that your youth may be renewed like the eagle's.

Today we made a descent equal to yesterday's ascent, this time following the Rio Sarria 19km to the amazing town of Samos--built around the Monastery beginning in the the year 665. It's an active Benedictine Abbey where we will attend mass tonight.


  1. Congratulations and God's blessings to you two and those you have influenced for Christ. "I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective and powerful because of your accurate knowledge of every good thing which is ours in Christ." Philemon 1:6. We send our love and prayers in Christ, Brian and Cathey SBPC

  2. Thank you both for sharing your story and stunning pictures. We take a lot for granted in the world we live in. -Miriam SBPC


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