Sometimes the road less traveled is less traveled for a reason. ~ Jerry Seinfeld
There is a spot in Villafranca del Bierzo where the path forks and Kathy, Lori and Jane are standing there contemplating which Camino arrow to follow. They attempt to take the strenuous climb up the mountain, but 4 women (angels?) sternly send them down the path following the road.
Meanwhile, Joan and Diane get bonus points for choosing the “True Pilgrim“ route up the mountain instead of the “Camino Lite,” which goes along the highway you see in the distance. Click on the True Pilgrim link to see a comparison elevation map so you can see how high they are really traveling today.
During medieval times the “Camino Lite” that the rest of us took along the main highway was extremely dangerous with murderous thieves. However, those that chose the “True Pilgrim” route faced a financial mugging, too. The Castle Auctares stood on the exit from Trabadelo and the lords supported themselves by taxing (eg extorting) the Pilgrims until King Alonso VI put a stop to the practice in 1072. ~ Eric the expat.blogspot.com
Nobody messes with us since we are such a tough looking group. It helps to look homeless.
The True Pilgrim route is marked as strenuous on the map and involves a steep, muddy path. The constant rain continues to dampen spirits, while temps are getting colder and it starts to feel like it could snow.
Listen carefully and you may hear Diane humming a song by the Carpenters:
I’m on the top of the world lookin’ down on creation…
Meanwhile, Randy and I are shlepping our feet along in the rain on the lower route and the miles to Vega de Valcarce seem to go on and on.
A taxi goes by with a passenger violently waving at us. Wonder what that’s about?
We continue to walk and walk and walk some more until we see a hotel. Better turn the radio on and try to make contact. Nothing…
O.K., we keep going for, what seems like, forever. We go through town and we appear to be leaving the village. This must not be right; better go back. The rain, blisters, and the walk begin to wear us down as it takes all of our effort to put each heavy, soaked. foot in front of the other.
We eventually make radio contact and discover the mountain path meets up with our path at Trabadelos. Joan and Diane had found a taxi to take them from Trabadelos to Vega de Valcarce, since they were exhausted from being real pilgrims. So that’s who was waving… We live on the South Dakota border where EVERYONE waves, so we are accustomed to friendly motorists.
Good news ~ they have found an albergue. Yay!! We describe our location and Joan estimates that we need to walk about 15 more minutes. Hoping our home for the night would be just around the corner, 15 more minutes of walking seems like completing a marathon. Fifteen more minutes?!! N-O-O-O-O-O-O-O-O!!!!!
Randy and I drag in last to find a nice albergue with 10 bunk beds, nice showers, heaters, a little fireplace heater and a bar/restaurant a few short feet away from our beds. Plus, we have the whole place to ourselves. Bueno!
I don’t take any pictures tonight or grab a business card, but my research tells me we may be at Albergue La Mochila.
Let’s just say we will sleep in the bar tonight.