This was a short day distance-wise but a long day attitude-wise. I felt like quitting and curling up in a bed the whole day. First, I got lost leaving Ponferrada, where the Camino waymarks seemed to vanish into thin air. I stopped at a coffee shop where an English-speaking Spanish guy directed me to the river path. Before that, a helpful Spanish lady from a kiosk gave me very long and complex directions in rapid-fire Spanish. I nodded as if I understood but of course I didn’t.
I finally made it to the outskirts and over the Avenue de América Bridge and past the power station, coal slag-heaps, and a light factory, la fabrica de luz, into the neat suburb of Compostilla.
In Compostilla, I found neat suburban neighborhoods, decorative murals and the Ermita de Compostilla de Santa María.
Pons Ferrada (Iron Bridge) to Compostilla (2.5 km)
It seemed I no longer recognized any fellow pilgrims as my Camino friends had all moved past me; the ones I kept passing, who alternately kept passing me, didn’t speak English so it was challenging to connect. I was thinking too much about all the problems in my life, so obviously I didn’t really turn them over to God at Cruz de Ferro.
Most of the day, I would remain in extensive residential developments, with one development following another, and sports facilities appearing here and there.
I walked past vineyards and then crossed into the village of Columbrianos, a busy suburb of Ponferrada. The small Ermita San Blas was a small chapel with a pilgrim mural, site of an original pilgrim hospice.
Compostilla to Columbrianos Ermita San Blas (2.2 km)
As of this day, I only had 10 days of walking left, so the remaining distance was not even that overwhelming. But my heart had become tired. None of the suburban landscapes spoke to me. It was too busy and towns had minimal charm, with one exception.
I guessed this was life in microcosm: sometimes you don’t feel like going on but then you do, or you have to. Of course I could have quit, but wouldn’t that have been foolish after making it so far?
I left the town of Columbrianos and walked through market gardens and past a rest area to Fuentes Nuevas, where there was a tiny chapel ermita del Divino Cristo with a pilgrim fountain. Most of the path was along a road with little shoulder; luckily there wasn’t too much traffic.
Columbrianos Ermita San Blas to Fuentes Nuevas (2.3 km)
The saving grace of the day was the beautiful little church in Fuentes Nueva: La Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de la Asuncion. There, I stopped to offer prayers and was bowled over by how pretty it was inside. I was so grumpy that when the woman at the door asked if I wanted a sello (stamp) in my credenciale, I shrugged her off, but by the time I left, not only did I get the sello but also bought a new pilgrim credenciale that I probably wouldn’t even need.
The town of Camponaraya had absolutely nothing to recommend it and went on forever.
Fuentes Nuevas to Camponaraya Centro (2.5 km)
After leaving Camponaraya, I crossed the river Naraya, a service station and then walked over a bridge spanning the A-6 motorway. After this, the landscape became more rural and pleasant, with vineyards producing grapes made into the increasingly valued wine of El Bierzo.
Camponaraya Centro to Fuente Cacabelos (4.5 km)
I finally made it, all bedraggled, to my hostel, Saint James Way, in Cacabelos. I had a four-bed room with no roommates! What a rare treat that was.
There was a cute chapel in town, the Chapel of San Rogue, and a beautiful church, the 16th-century Church of Santa María; it had an original 10th-century apse with a Baroque statue of the Virgin.
Cacabelos was a bit larger than many towns along the Camino, with a population of 5,500. It was an important medieval pilgrim stop with five hospices founded to care for pilgrims. The town had an archeological museum displaying artifacts from nearby Roman settlements and a wine museum featuring the wine from the region, but I didn’t have time to go into either.
The forecast was for rain all the next day. Granted, I’d been spoiled except for one rainy morning coming out of Pamplona, but I still didn’t look forward to being cold and wet all day. Maybe that accounted for my depressed mood.
Partly, I thought a lot about my loved one today and how he seemed to hate me and still had blocked me on Facebook and stopped following me on Instagram, despite following everyone else in the family. It made me sad, angry and heartbroken all at once, and I felt a lot of anxiety about it.
Surprisingly, he called me in the afternoon, when I had been thinking so much about him. He told me he loved living with his older brother, loved the house and yard, liked his job and the people, except for the time had to give up to be there, and how he was sorry (for what, he didn’t say). He told me he loved me. He wanted to take off four days to drive home from Colorado, so he could pick up a lot of his stuff like his pressure cooker, etc. He wished me a good walk. It was a very nice talk, and quite coincidental – just what I needed to cheer up.
My daughter wrote me a nice note of encouragement on Instagram: “I’m sorry you had a rough day Ma. You’re doing great and I’m so proud of you. Keep it up <3.” 🙂
*Day 37: Wednesday, October 10, 2018*
*26,444 steps, or 11.21 miles: Ponferrada to Cacabelos (15.3 km)*
You can find everything I’ve written so far on the Camino de Santiago here:
On Sundays, I post about hikes or walks that I have taken in my travels; I may also post on other unrelated subjects. I will use these posts to participate in Jo’s Monday Walks or any other challenges that catch my fancy.
This post is in response to Jo’s Monday Walk: Alvor & the Estuary.