Started out about 6:45 AM staying mostly on a main road out of town until an alternate route was offered off of that before getting to the town of Villafrañca del Bierzo. Checked inward and even though staying on the main road would have been faster this morning, something said take the alternate route. So I listened to my gut and angled to the right.
The other pay off for listening to my intuition was that when I did arrive in Villafrañca- towards the backway, I passed the St James Church where next to the road was the infamous Doorway of Forgiveness. This was the Romanesque doorway built in the 12th century and where for centuries after, pilgrims who were too ill to continue the journey to Santiago, passed through here and were granted an indulgence.
Can´t tell you why but I had a serious emotional moment looking at that door. I thought about my petty aches and pains compared to the intense physical challenges so many must have endured through freezing temperatures and hardships we can never fathom. Here´s where they collapsed in their disappointment and were cared for.
It was fairly early in the town, a beautiful, picturesque mountain village reminiscent of some swiss alp village, and I sat for a coffee from the cafe and ate some fruit from my packback.
Had that desire to want to come back here and visit longer – a feeling I´ve had in a few other places. It felt peaceful and good here and I took longer than usual to rest and soak it all in.
I eventually gathered myself together and headed on – a day motly adjacent to main roads but separated enough by a recently installed safety barrier on the right and a lovely river that ran all along that days walk on the left. One barely noticed traffic from looking at the amazing flowing water.
Became a bit drizzly and stopped to cover everything and put on my lime green $2 poncho. Yes, you can definitely see me coming. Had the fun thought that God was Joe Cocker singing, “You Are So Beautiful To Me” to everyone. Even in my lime green poncho, swollen leg and burnt skin, I was beautiful to God.
Got to the municipal alburgue a bit soggy and was disappointed to discover there was no hot water. It was brisk and uncomfortable and there was no real way to dry the days clothes. I was creative as possible, hanging my socks, underwear, shirt and shorts in the slats above my head in the bunk bed – sort of like creating a tent with laundry.
Not much else to do here. Walked to a small store and bought a piece of bread, some cheese and salami for my evening meal. Felt a bit disconnected from the rest of the pilgrims staying here. I remember thinking that I have had such extraordinary experiences in all the places I´ve stayed so far soooo, it was time to experience the other side. After the sandwich and some writing, I climbed through the still damp makeshift clothes line and did my best to drift off to sleep.