CAMINO FRANCES – DAY 20

RABANAL – MOLINASECA

16 APRIL

26.5km

Today is my dear mom’s birthday … I trust she will be spoiled by her sister and our family back in South Africa. I miss her today – I’m sure she would have enjoyed walking the Camino with us.

We left our albergue just after 7:00 in chilly weather. The wind was coming from the snow covered mountains and we wasted no time in getting our gloves, buffs and jackets out.

The landscape reminds us of the well-known ‘fynbos’ bushes in mountains near Cape Town

The first town we reached, was Foncebadon. It was quiet as we walked through the town – many pilgrims overnight here to be at La Cruz de Ferro before sunrise. There were a few steep uphills to reach La Cruz de Ferro. Fortunately, it was still early morning and at the beginning of our day, which meant we had enough energy to walk this with ease.

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An uphill to La Cruz de Ferro

When we reached Cruz de Ferro, there were a small group of pilgrims busy taking photos.

Time to reflect:

While we were waiting for the group of pilgrims to finish, we stood aside. This was the perfect moment to be quiet and to think about everyone that is important in our lives … those we love and is still with us, but also our loved-ones that passed away. Berto and I also took each others’ hands and remembered our miscarriages over the last few years … we felt blessed to be together on this journey.

What is Cruz de Ferro?

The Cruz de Ferro is, according to Brierley’s guide, 1505m above sea level and the highest point of the Camino. The pole, standing high on a pile of rocks with an iron cross on top, is a well known symbol of the Pilgrim Way of St James.

Time to reflect at Cruz de Ferro

We each carried a small stone in our backpack which we brought all the way from South Africa to place here to remember our loved ones. I also had an additional stone in remembrance of the Healing Hearts support group that I coordinate at the hospital where I work (Mediclinic Panorama, in Cape Town).

For us it was also a gesture to celebrate this journey. To be here on the Camino… at this very moment.

Cruz de Ferro

Although the main road is not far from the track where we were walking, it was quiet with beautiful surroundings. This was a very special moment for us on the Camino.

To add to this special day, we came across a ‘donativo’ stall – on its own next to the walking track, filled with fruit, water and juice. After donating a few Euro’s, we each took a banana and juice to enjoy after all the uphills we encountered since this morning. The Camino just keeps on surprising us …

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‘Donativo’ next to the road

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Serene beauty on our way to Molinaseca

On our way to Acebo, it was now downhill all the way! The road descends sharply and we had to chose our steps careful between the loose rocks on the dirt track. We saw many pilgrims on this downhill – each one was walking with extra care to get without any incident at Acebo.

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Loose rocks on the downhill to Acebo

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Acebo in the valley

In Acebo we found a small restaurant where we enjoyed a well deserved ‘café con leche’. From here, it was less than 10km to Molinaseca where we will overnight.

It was still downhill after Acebo, but not as steep as earlier. We encountered lovely bushes that smelled really nice, as well as many tiny flowers on our way to Molinaseca. It was great walking the Camino in spring!

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Beautiful paths on our way to Molinaseca

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Just always follow the yellow arrow

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We had to be very careful here

At around 13:00 we walked into Molinaseca. Today, was a really beautiful walk and we thoroughly enjoyed the scenery and tranquility on this road. It’s probably one of my favourite days on the Camino thus far.

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Arriving in Molinaseca

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Medieval bridge over the Meruelo River that leads into the village of Molinaseca

We stayed at Albergue Santa Marina. It’s quite a walk to get to this albergue as it is at the end of town, but it’s definitely worth staying there. The facility was super clean and, in our dorm, there were no bunk beds – hooray!! We also had a breathtaking view from our beds!

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Albergue Santa Marina

After we made our beds, we headed back into town to have lunch and ice-cold ‘cervezas’ next to the river at one of the many beautiful restaurants.

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Cheers on a day of up- and down hills

Molinaseca is not a very big town. We were looking for an ATM to draw cash, but were informed there wasn’t any. We always made sure to have cash in our purse, but today our luck was out. No cash meant no automatic washing machines! And so, for the first time, we had to wash our clothes by hand. We saw many pilgrims washing their clothes by hand, but the washing machine was the one luxury item we allowed ourselves on this journey.

Berto did not shy away from this and washed our clothes, while I hanged them on the line … ha, we felt like real ancient pilgrims.

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Laundry time – as it was done in the earlier years

This was a great day on the Camino – the scenery was breathtaking beautiful and our visit to Cruz de Ferro was a real special moment.

We thoroughly enjoyed today’s walk and it was with a feeling of satisfaction that we went to bed later that evening.

11 thoughts on “CAMINO FRANCES – DAY 20

      1. This was one pf the many things that amazed me about your Camino, you never booked ahead. OK, it was “off-season” but heading off for 30K. with only a few ideas as to albergues that may be shut is a big leap of faith, which is a commodity you both seem to have in abundance.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed this day – it was probably one of our top 5 favourite days of the Camino Frances. I always say, if you don’t like yourself, a long distance hike can be a nightmare 😉 … and you’re right, there’s more than enough time to think (and re-think) about life!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Ja, hierdie was nogal ‘n uitdagende dag … maar ons was omring deur soveel skoonheid dat ‘n mens amper vergeet het hoe moeilik dit is. Dis waarskynlik net iemand wat self deur ‘n miskraam is wat die emosies hier rondom sal verstaan, ne. Ek het groot agting vir my ouma-hulle wat destyds klere met die hand gewas het, dis nie pret nie 😬.

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