Camino de Santiago Day Twenty-seven and Twenty-eight

Rabanal del Camino to Ponferrada to Villafranca del Bierzo

We are sitting in our albergue in Villafranca and it's pouring down rain. Check or your international weather channel and you'll see its true. Rain. Nothing but rain this weekend ALL OVER SPAIN. We are eating locally fried potato chips, olives, marcona almonds and Bierzo Roble. Fortunately we have a beautiful view of the river, should it overflow and flood our street. But we are getting ahead of ourselves.

Two accomplishments for the past two days: 

1. We are within 200 km of Santiago.

2. We crossed over the highest pass of the Camino since the Pyranees.

The flowers and slate rock were stunning. We kept saying, people spend thousands of dollars to recreate this in their gardens.

Over the pass is the Cruz de Ferro, the iron cross where pilgrims drop the burdens they have been carrying. We each dropped something important to us and read a psalm. 

The snow capped mountains we first saw entering into Astorga, were on our left as we crossed over and down into Riego de Ambrós where we were blessed by two unlikely people.

The first was Oliver. He's the hospitalero at the albergue in Riego. Since the restaurant closed he's the only kitchen in town. He humbly and graciously included us in his table, making spaghetti with chorizo and caldo gallego. He said to come at 7:30, but when we arrived he said there was a delay, could we eat at eight? We ate our meal with a man from Hamburg, Germany, and another from Piedmonte, Italy. After a few minutes we figured out that Spanish was the best way for us to communicate. We told stories about travel, food and our home towns. It was a delightful surprise—all because Oliver figured out how to stretch the little bit of chorizo he had for too many guests.

The second was Pilar, the owner of our pensión. Her husband died 25 years ago (when he was 55) from lung cancer. She raised a son and a daughter and now has five grandchildren—like us, three boys and two girls. 

His dream was to have a restaurant in the first floor of their house which looks across this beautiful valley to the snow capped mountains, and call it La Felicidad or Buena Vista. She showed us the room where she'll put the restaurant when she gets her license. This town needs to provide services to its guests, she said.

After breakfast, as we were getting ready to leave, she brought Amy some flowers and we took this picture. 

Dios te bendiga, I said. 
Gracias y buen Camino, she said.

Yesterday we walked through Ponferrada almost missing the rain. But it rained all afternoon till this morning and continued as we walked 20km to Villafranca del Bierzo.

Along the way we stopped for a comfort breakfast.

Giving thanks for all we meet and all we see.


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