Villafranca del Bierzo - 21st June
This evening I am in Villafranca del Bierzo, I am in a refuge, described as being 'idiosyncratic', it is run by a family, Don Jesus Jato and his family.
Shortly we will be sharing a communal meal with all the pilgrims who have booked in here for tonight.
Apparently, Jesus has a gift of healing and is well known for it. Hopefully later we will experience one of his 'Queimadas'. As far as I can tell an alcoholic concoction is lit and in the gathering darkness, while those present are sharing the drink, tales are told and spells incanted!
Tonight is mid summer's day - will something primeval occur? I sincerely hope so!
We had a tough day of walking
Today, I say we, my son Brian and his friend J.J. are here, and I am still walking with Frances. We had considered going a further 8k but opted to stay because of the mystery and the sense of discovery we have.
Earlier we had a wonderful swim in the river. It was an exhilarating experience, the river has been dammed, and for a stretch of over 100m there is a wonderful pool, with water spilling into it over a weir, and again exiting at a lower weir, which at the lower point is about 1.5 m high. The river flows over the remains of old Roman walls at his point, you can actually walk along the old walls.
We would never have found this jewel except for the help of two of the helpers at the Refuge, Mandolin and xxxxx, they were pilgrims and are now working here as helpers. Both fairly young, early 20's, enjoying what they do, and their enthusiasm is infectious. The swim was just what the doctor ordered, to revive perspiring perigrnos, the temperature this afternoon was almost into the mid 30's.
Fortunately we had finished walking at circa 1.30, having started this morning on the road from Ponteferrada, at 7.10, first stop for café con leche after about 6k. Everyone found the last stretch from Cacabelos exhausting and we all think it a lot further than the 7k shown in the book. Our total journey today was around 26k, not a great distance but in this heat, it can be tough.
We came through the wine-growing region of Bierzo, a beautiful wine, but apparently not known outside of Spain.
Between swimming and talking, I find it extremely difficult to write! I continually meet people who I have met on earlier occasions, and of course, we have to exchange experiences.
I know tonight I shall miss the company of my Eunate companions, Barbara, David, Brigitte, and Anita. We had made a pact to sit up all night to greet the dawn, but they are probably at least a day behind, I hope they are together. I send them my love and wish them Buen Camino.
David telephoned the other day but I missed his call, and I don't have a mobile number to contact.
I am being called for dinner, and I know we have a very tough day tomorrow, an early start, in order to miss the heat of the day, is essential.