A Change of Plans

Foncebadon to El Acebo
Monday 24 November

I awoke and noticed there was no one in the next bed. I sat up, and saw that there was no one in any bed. I looked at the time – eight fourty five! I had slept in. I had had the best nights sleep on the Camino. No one had woken me to ask me to leave. I packed up, and went downstairs. There were still a couple of stragglers having breakfast, so I joined them. I was only planing on about twenty kilometers today, so no need to rush. I didn’t have to leave until eleven.

People started to arrive for coffee who had walked from the last village. The English musician arrive, and someone handed him a ukulele and he sung a lovely little ditty that he had written. I was getting ready to leave when an older American woman arrived. We chatted and I found her very interesting. She was seventy five, was an architect, had worked for UNESCO, and now ran a B & B in the Champagne region of France. She asked if I would like to walk with her for a while. I would. This was her tenth Camino. I asked if she had ever met our older Canadian friend, also on his tenth Camino, but she hadn’t. She told me that she was going to divert from the Camino for the next couple of days to visit an ancient Roman gold mine that was nearby and was a UNESCO World Heritage site. I thought that sounded interesting, and she said she would really like some company, so I agreed to join her. She was only walking to the next village today where she planned to stay the night. I was happy to shorten my planned walk to prolong my stay in this beautiful mountain area.

Today was the day we passed the Cruz de Ferro, the Iron Cross, an important landmark on the Camino. I had carefully chosen, and bought from home a small stone from Mt Batur, a holy mountainin Bail, with the intention of leaving it here, alongside many others who had done the same. The pile of stones reached several meters. Thousands of hopes, wishes, dreams, abandoned and discarded anguish, heartache and fears. I contemplated for a moment what my stone meant to me before casting it high, adding to mound.

I continued along the way chatting together with my older American friend for a while, then she pointed me in the direction along the Camino, as she found it easier to walk along the road.

I arrived at the bar we had arranged to meet, and she soon joined me. We ordered the menu del dia, and booked into the alburgue upstairs. It was warm, but the wifi was only available in the downstairs bar. So after showers and laundry, we retired there for the evening, both to write.

Not long later, my Dutch friend arrived. I was surprised to see him, and he me. He was staying in the other alburgue, but had come for a drink and dinner. He looked much happier than the last few days, and I was glad to learn he was feeling a lot better.

A couple of Spanish men and a Dutch girl arrived. My American friend chatted to the Spaniards, and the Dutch chatted. I was happily antisocial, writing. My American friend reported that one of the Spanish men owned an alburgue on our planned detour, and she had arrange that we stay there. The Dutch girl worked there doing massage. The Dutch girl and Spaniards left, and my American friend retired to bed. I stayed for a while conversing with my friend before we bid each other good night.

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