Day 28 (June 7) Viilafranca del Bierzo to Herrerias (13 Miles)
I did not make it over the mountain today. The town at the top, O’Cebreiro, is a very remote spot with limited accommodations. I started calling all 4 of them yesterday and didn’t get any answer. (They’re not on the internet). I tried again this morning. Finally someone answered and said they were full for tonight and added, “we’re all full”. So I backed up from there until I found a spot to stay for the night in Herrerias. Perhaps it was divine intervention, as it was raining, and another 5 miles on bad feet would have been torture.
My walk followed the Rio Valcarce through the mountains. I believe I crossed it a dozen times. The water was clear and musical. I am sure that John would have spotted trout everywhere, as he did in the Pyrenees.
I ran into Miguel and Roberto, who we met on Day 1 in Orisson, at a coffee stop. I was interested to see that we’re still on the same schedule. They offered to make some calls to help me find a room, but I said that my basic Spanish was working okay. People are so nice here and always offering help. The minute you sit down to check something on your foot, several people come over and offer cream and bandaids. I do the same.
I walked in the rain for a while with a Korean man named Lee. He popped into a store and came out with a bag of ham flavored potato chips. We ate them together while walking in the rain. When the bag was finished, I thanked Lee and he took off at a young man’s pace.
I love walking through the old villages and am fascinated by the layering of building materials over the centuries. Old slate/new slate, stone/block/brick, side by side or on top of each other. It doesn’t matter if it matches, as long as it gets the job done.
There is beauty in even the most ramshackle elements.
And when things are well kept, they are done with style.
I don’t know if you can see the fountain at the lower right, but the sign at the left certainly doesn’t inspire confidence. I carry a full day’s water supply with me, though it adds about 3 pounds to my pack.
Tomorrow morning I go over the top of the mountain. I am dreading the downhill, as my advance team reports it rocky and slick. I am especially nervous, since I lost my walking sticks today. I was miles away before I realized they were gone. I refuse to backtrack, so hope to find a substitute soon.