Day 24 - To Molinaseca

June 20, 2014 - Distance Traveled: 26.5 km -

We left early again this morning, but not because of the heat. We had thoughts of arriving at Cruz e Ferro while the sun was still pouring fourth the golden light of its morning rays. As we made our way towards the highest point of the Camino there were broken clouds overhead. The sun streaming through them made for a beautiful display of light. This photo does not do justice to what we were seeing.

Emilie and Allison stopped to capture the moment.

Cruze de Ferro is marked by an iron cross. For centuries, pilgrims have left a stone here, which they have carried from home, as a symbol of their burdens or sins which they are leaving behind in preparation for their arrival in Santiago. Emilie, Allison and I walked together throughout the morning and arrived together, but we allowed each other the space necessary for to approach the Iron Cross and pile of stones as seemed best to each of us.

Ok, so I may have intruded on Allison's moment by taking this photo.

Just before moved on, we had someone capture the moment. Here I stand with the person I will end up walking with the longest and the person who was the newest member of our Camino family. I am thankful for both.

After the Iron Cross, we walked at our own pace. I don't know about he others, but I need a bit of space to process the experince at Cruz de Ferro. It is easy to lay a rock down at the cross. It takes but a few moments. It takes a bit longer to lay day what that rock symbolizes.

We were back in the mountains. I felt a huge difference in my legs and lungs as I climbed. The is Camino is not only doing a work on my heart, it is also changing my body. It feels good to notice the tangible changes. An added bonus was the view we were now being treated to.

The man who lives in this rustic albergue, and by rustic I mean no running water or electricity, claims to be the last Knight Templar on the Camino. His name is Thomas. I hear he is very hospitable. I did not meet him, but have heard other did so and they said they were glad they did.

The rest of the walk was unfortunately downhill. What goes up, must come down. To make matters worse, the last 9 km was downhill with a good portion in loose shale. I took it slow, fearing a fall and injury. I was OK with my pace, until Emilie came prancing by, whistling. Young knees are such a gift. Once we hit flat ground, I caught back up with her and we walked into town together.

Molinaseca is a small village along the river. We had to walk alway thorough the old section before we found the albergue. When we arrived, it was pretty much empty and it was already 1:30 pm. We were hoping that it meant it was going to sparsely populate for the night, but within the next hour another 25-30 pilgrims marched in. I have come to the conclusion that we are traveling in a wave of people and the days before and behind us have less pilgrims, or the Camino is busier than normal this year. The Germans we have met have told us they were inspired to walk by a book called I'm Off Then by Hape Kerkeling. It came out about 10 years ago. The Koreans we have met talk about being inspired by a documentary on television in their country as being the reason they were drawn to walk. For most of the American's you meet, they were first introduced to the Camino by the movie The Way. All these things have conspired to greatly increase the number of pilgrims who are walking.

Jonathan and his dad Andrew are enjoying an ice cream and the rest the afternoon provides.

This is one of my favorite photos of Sergio. He was standing in the Rio Meruelo in Molinaseca, cooling his feet after a long day of walking. His arms are wide open and there is delight on his face. He is soaking in the cool water, the afternoon sun and the present moment. This in so many ways captures the spirit of my friend. The four of us who are still walking together spent the early evening sitting at a table next to the river, watching children play in the water and enjoying a glass of vino tinto.

Tonight, Sergio informed me that tomorrow he will be walking less kilometers than the rest of us. He wants to arrive in Santiago later than the we do and is going to intentionally slow down. This does not come as a surprise. He has long told us he wants his journey to take exactly 40 days. Israel spent 40 years in the wilderness, Jesus spent 40 days in the wilderness, and Sergio will spend 40 days walking from St. Jean to Finisterra and Muxia. The fact he has kept pace with us this far speaks to life our Camino family has given to each one of us.

Unlike the happenstance of the Camino, which often brings you back together with people you did not think you would see again, Sergio's intentionality means this will be the last time we are together. I am grateful we have walked along side one another. His presence is a gift.

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