Two years ago today, I was walking the Camino Frances. While on the trail, I didn’t really post all that often; therefore, for the next 38 days, I will be posting a little blurb from my journal and up to 10 photos (not necessarily the best pictures but more that they represent that day in some particular way). It’s kind of like a little memorial as for me, the season of spring is now irrevocably linked to the Camino experience. Today is day 31 – May 21st. Villafranca del Bierzo to La Faba

Was pretty peopled out today after the past few days so I decided not to walk with American Nicole today. …

There are three options for today’s route and they are all apparently hard in various ways. The first along a highway is the Pereje route. The third is the Dragonte route and apparently is very remote, is the steepest option, and is badly waymarked. The second option is the Pradela route and steep in the beginning but then meets up at the lower Pereje route about 12km in. I decided on the Pradela route which seems to be a good compromise in getting some quiet mountain walking. Just after the split for options one and two (option two started with a dramatic uphill climb compared to the leisurely option one beckoning right next to it), two older people in front of me stopped and the lady shouted, “Nein!” and stomped back down the steep hill. …

It was steep for a very long time and I wondered if dodging traffic would have been a better choice. But, once I reached the top, it was downhill through a chestnut forest dappled with sunlight. It was beautiful. However, what goes up must eventually come down. And down it went very steeply on a loose rocky path. As I was slowly picking my way down the hill, a group from New Zealand passed me, pretty much running. One told me to bend my knees and take short steps. I tried it, rather gingerly at first, but soon I was running down that hill like a pro! I probably got down that mountain a good half an hour faster with a lot less stress on my calves and knees. About an hour later, I rewarded myself with a third breakfast: eggs, bacon, bread, coke, tea, fries. This Camino has made my eating choices so so weird. And I eat plenty (breakfast one had been toast and café con leche, second breakfast had been two sandwiches I’d made the night before).

That afternoon, I walked and walked and walked. I even walked with an ice cream cone at one point. The route went through several small villages, all beautiful, and I wished I could have spent more time just wandering in the area. At one of the villages, a couple pilgrims said I probably won’t get a bed further on as it was now almost mid-afternoon. I wanted to reach La Faba, though – I don’t know if I was finally trusting the Camino or if it was just stubbornness, but on I went. Almost regretted it as my exhausted self was soon faced with yet another steep hill to climb in order to actually reach La Faba. It was just after 3pm by the time I arrived – I got one of the last beds at the German run albergue. Most of my Cruz de Ferro group is here (except for Johny who did the Dragonte route, got lost, and is now several kms behind us).

La Faba is a pretty little village. It took maybe 15 minutes to explore…slowly. It is very easy to romanticize rural village life with thoughts of ancient stone architecture, a village donkey, a shepherd with his herd of cows, neighbouring women gossiping with each other… But the thing is, all of that I did actually see!

Afternoon was spent hanging out on the “patio” of the local bar with other pilgrims. Dinner was at the albergue, where Australian Claire cooked a great pasta meal. We ate while other pilgrims went to mass but when they came back, one of them accused my group of stealing her wine. Thankfully, she eventually found her bottle. At 9:50 the hospitelera came by to warn us that we had 10 minutes left as there was a curfew of 10pm. They were not impressed by the time we were done eating and cleaning up, it was 10:15. Oops…