I woke up to the sound of my mobile alarm and scrambled like mad, completely mortified, to get into my little cross body bag where my mobile was. Strangely it stopped before I got to it. In fact, it belonged to the person in the next top bunk. The scramble woke me up though, and when I checked the time it was only 05.30! The person whose alarm it was showed no sign of getting up, but others were stirring after the loud alarm. I tried to get back to sleep, only to hear the alarm again – the person next to me had turned it to snooze! Actually woken everyone but themselves up, only to sleep on and let the alarm go off again! I quickly named this person The Zen Remover, as there were many annoyed grunts in the room and if the lights had been on the looks would have been withering. I decided to try to avoid this person and their partner in the future.
Leaving Rabanal in the morning is always a bit sad, as I really like the place. I had a cup of coffee and a piece of bread with jam before I left, and Kristi had put out a few woolen hats that her mother had made for pilgrims heading out into the cold mountains in the dark. One of them was a beautiful shade of magenta pink … and I had woken up with a cough … so I donated a bit more and secured lots of lovely warmth for my head. I was glad I did, because it was cold and a bit windy on the way up towards Foncebadón and I hadn’t actually brought a hat. The clear skies made for a beautiful sunrise though.
From Foncebadón, where I stopped for second breakfast at the hippie place, I walked on to Cruz de Ferro where I met two American ladies I had spoken to the night before and who had also stayed at Gaucelmo. I walked with them past Manjarín, where we got a stamp and were told that Tomas, possibly one of the best known hospitaleros on the Camino and quite a character, was still well but not there at the moment.
Then for one of the highlights of my Astorga-Santiago walks: the hills down towards Acebo and Molinaseca. Something about the shaly, steep and challenging path exhilarates me (and scares the living daylights out of others) and I really enjoy it. The weather was absolutely perfect too – sunny, warm and clear.
That morning I had started later, stopped for longer, and was no longer going to arrive at Acebo at a stupidly early hour. I almost ran down the trail with my Pacerpoles as handbrakes and arrived at Acebo in glorious sunshine in the middle of the day. I then nipped into Meson de Acebo to see if they had a bed and decided that if they did, I would stay there. They did – I was the first one. I picked the same bed as last time, a top bunk, and had my shower, did my laundry and went for a late lunch/early dinner in their restaurant.
Then I sat down in the back garden of the Mesón to stare at this for a while:
Afterwards I went up to one of the bars with outside seating, where I met a Canadian woman I had seen at Gaucelmo and chatted to her for a long while. I also met two Norwegian women who were on a self-guided tour, which means they had someone else plan the distances, book accommodation and transfer their main luggage while they navigated from place to place on their own following a spiral bound book. I have seen these things before, notably with Ginny in March, and I have yet to meet someone who is very happy with them. The Norwegian women were not. According to the booklet they were supposed to walk on to Molinaseca, which is another great/challenging downhill section, and then on to Ponferrada, which is all tarmac. When I showed them in my guide the distance and terrain they had before them, they decided to get a taxi instead to save their already hurting feet. I do wish these companies would walk it themselves before they asked others to do silly kilometrage per day! Or hire someone who does (me, me, me)! (/rantover)
I had another glass of vino at my home for the night before I went to bed. Though it had been a beautiful day and I had started finding my feet again in the pilgrim life, there was something not quite right. The thought of Denise’s unfinished Camino? The Zen Removers, who had arrived at my albergue and were heard bragging that they had got out of Gaucelmo without leaving a donation? Being there on my own with the Scouse Spouse at home wishing he could have come with me? The fact that I had managed to scrape a lot of skin off my shin while climbing into the top bunk? Or could it be Camino Fatigue? Tiredness?
I decided to sleep on it.