Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Camino Day # 2 (a look back)
Our second day in Spain was an adventurous one. After having enjoyed a long nights rest we woke up early to begin the first real day of our hiking/pilgrimage adventure. After months of planning and preparation the time had finally come for us to begin the hiking portion of our trip. After packing our backpacks and stringing up our hiking boots we set out from the city of Ponferrada in the North of Spain. Ponferrada was a sizable city, so it took us a good hour before we were fully out of the city.
Shortly before the above picture was taken I was in charge of leading the group for while. In the process of our adventure I was amazed by all the people who were honking at us and by the incredibly warm welcome we were receiving at 6:30am. It was only after the fifth car stopped, rolled down its window, and pointed furiosly all the while mumbling in Spanish that I realized we were headed in the wrong direction.
As we left the city behind we passed a pilgrims statue and quickly found ourselves climbing along quiet roads. The roads were interspersed with buildings, houses and farms and high above us in the distance were snow capped mountains. I will not lie to you, when I first thought of Spain in May I thought of warmth, not snow capped mountains. Correspondingly I was beginning to get a little worried that my polar fleece jacket was not going to be enough to protect me from mountain top blizzards! Luckily for me the more we walked the farther away the mountains got.
Along the way the Camino is marked by yellow arrows.
The arrows appear every so often and point the way along the entire route. After awhile you take the arrows for granted, however they are a life saving guide for pilgrims. Throughout the entire pilgrimage I could not help but think that if this trail were in the United States that trouble makers would paint fake arrows to confuse people, luckily we were in Spain.
After leaving Ponferrada we spent much of our day climbing through rolling vineyards and the beautiful countryside.
By early afternoon the sun was beating down and I was beat. My feet were aching, my legs were tired and I just wanted to take a long nap under the tree. Luckily I did not and we dragged ourselves along to our first stop, a small country village, whose name escapes me. There we registered at a hostel which resembled a mountain lodge, and were welcomed with warm arms and hugs by the host family. For $5 we were giving a clean bed to sleep in, clean bathrooms and hot showers, something which is much appreciated after a long day. The only challenge for me was that the hot water pipe was solar heated and resulted in short supplies, and a lot of awkward and painful positioning under ice water interspersed with warmth. In the end I did not care as long as my feet could rest and that they did.
We arrived at the hostel, at the end of our first day hiking, at about four o'clock. After washing up we explored the town, had a simple dinner and called it an early night.
The hostel guard dog reflected how I felt by the end of the day.
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