The road is long
With many a winding turn
That leads us to who knows where
Who knows when… ~ Rufus Wainwright
Thus, begins day 3 of the Camino de Santiago.
Although the day begins with pleasant weather, the path is not so pleasant. Not only is it a steep descent, it is extremely rocky and water is running across the trail in several areas. At one point I lose my footing and land smack dab on my back. Luckily, the backpack makes a wonderful cushion and the fall on the wet, rocky path is not painful. Getting up isn’t a pretty sight, but I eventually make it to an upright position. O.K., let’s try this again. It was challenging enough to stay upright so the photo above is borrowed from another blog site (Thank you diegoapereda.wordpress.com), but it shows how rocky the path is this morning. Now just imagine cooler temps with rushing water running though the wet, slippery rocks.
The path improves and we stay to the left just as the Way marker says. We pass a dead sheep that my experienced sheep farmer husband determined had recently died. This is a long stretch of downhill mountain road.
Taxi? Call Luis. You can find his number on signs, benches or whatever was handy to write on. We did see a taxi go up the mountain and later saw it go back down with hands waving at us. Hmmm… Do we know you?
The path finally arrives at Molinaseca which is in the region of El Bierzo and still the province of Leon. The steeple is San Nicolás church and was built in the 17th century.
We pass many gardens and flowering trees on our way into town.
The creek is rapidly flowing today as we cross an old, Roman bridge.
Aseos, por fa vor? A-a-a-a-h-h-h… Gracias! Bathroom stop and we purchase bread, nuts and water for the road at a shop in Molinaseca
As early as the Roman era Molinaseca served as a checkpoint on the way to the gold mines. ~ urcamino.com
We leave Molinaseca and find flowering trees and new growth of grass that appear to be nudging the vineyard out of its winter slumber.
We pass a memorial to a former pilgrim. This man would have been 78 when he died. I’m assuming he met his demise while at this spot on the Way of St. James. He almost made it to Ponferrada.
Ponferrada lies on the Sil River, a tributary of the river Miño, in the El Bierzo valley, completely surrounded by mountains. It is the last major town along the French route of the Way of St. James (Camino de Santiago) before it reaches its destination of Santiago. ~ Wikipedia. Yup, surrounded by mountains. They aren’t kidding, either!
It is generally cloudy now as we approach the outskirts of town and we turn the 2 way radios on. Hot Cross Buns to Joan… Do you read me? (Pause… blip…) Hola! We hear the welcome reply and they are waiting for us in the town plaza. Hooray for the radios!!
We find many gardeners out today as we continue on through town.
We cross another old Roman-style bridge as we enter into the busy city of Ponferrada.
See the steeple in the distance on the left side of the photo above? We assume that is where Joan and Kathy are perched as they wait for our happy feet to approach the plaza.
We continue on through the narrow streets as we get closer to the city center.
Kids are kids the world around ~ always curious and will play with whatever is available.
The first records of Ponferrada are as a former citadel in Roman times. From the 11th century, the rise in pilgrimages to Santiago de Compostela spurred the appearance of the hamlet of Pons Ferrata, located on the Pilgrim’s Route to Santiago de Compostela and named in this way because of the building of a bridge reinforced with iron. In 1178, the King Fernando II of León placed this flourishing settlement under the custody of the Order of the Temple. The Knights Templar used the site of a primitive Roman fortress to build a castle in which they settled and which, at the same time, protected the passing pilgrims. This favored demographic growth and led to the commercial development of the area. ~ http://www.spain.info
I notice that Joan is clutching the 2 way radio. What a slick way of communication on the trail and she does NOT want to lose the radio.
Jane, a member of our group with an interesting Boston accent, is ordering a lunch-time snack. Being a native of Minnesota (pronounced Min ~ uh ~ soh ~ Duh), I just love listening to her speak. She is the Energizer Bunny of the group because she can just go and go and go without seeming tired, while the rest of us are ready to drop from exhaustion. A wealth of information is stored inside her head and she was the one that alerted me to the historic importance of the Knights Templar to the Camino de Santiago.
The clock says 12:36 p.m. and we have a lot of ground left to cover today. Kathy is determined to NOT let the trail beat her so she is hoisting the backpack onto her back and it feels like an old friend. Down the path we go, and Randy and the Hot Cross Buns are all pedestrians again. Destination is Cacabalos which is another 15 kilometers.
Click, Click, Click… our sticks resume their rhythmic cadence.