Camino de Santiago Day Twenty-Five: Rabanal del Camino to Molinaseca Cruz de Ferro-Fear Not

25 04 2018

Despite our nocturnal friend in the room we had a very good rest at Albergue Senda. Somehow we woke late and were once again the last to leave, but that was fine by us. Grab sleep when you can, never pass up a bathroom or an opportunity to get water, this we have learned.

We had a coffee up the street of the very cute Rabanal, a town with many wild kitties. Today was to be a big day, not in kilometers but we’d heard that the descent from Cruz de Ferro or the Iron Cross is very intense.

The walk was lovely, once again a day warming quickly with no clouds in the sky but luckily also no gnats. We wove up a reasonable not too steep path where we saw running water once again, a few streams of runoff to cross and some mucky muck where we almost got a little wet in our boots.

We stopped by a cute shop in Foncebadon for a mineral water and to drool over their selection of artisanal beers and ciders but it was way too early in the day. Foncebadon seemed to have a bohemian vibe and seemed like a good place to stay if you could time it right during your journey as a stop. Suzy bought a stick there and named it Jackson.

We continued up and the ascent didn’t seem as bad as we expected, mostly just switchbacks that lead you up the road. Then it came into view… the Cruz de Ferro. The highest part of the Camino, and perhaps my “Everest”. I’ve been intrigued by amount Everest since I read a John Krakauer article in Outside Magazine once (not sure where I got the issue, outside things are not my things, which is why what I’m doing on the Camino is so weird.) Anyway I do know someone who has summited Everest, and I think that would be incredible, but I know I couldn’t even try… my eyes, terrible vision for one, so many reasons. I’m no mountaineer. So I was pretty excited for the Iron Cross. But now we were here and… it didn’t seem so high honestly and it didn’t seem as big as I’d expected. And I didn’t have a rock from home (I didn’t get the memo) so I’d just picked up two from the road. One was slate and one looked like quartZ. Early in the walk I marveled to Suzy saying, “Check out all these quartz crystals! Do you think we are on an entire mountain of quartz? Is that why this Cruz de Ferro is so important and such a destination?”

So this may be where I may lose some of you, we shall see. I also had big hopes for the Cruz de Ferro for other reasons. For one I have issues with electronics. I apologize for and previous and post issues in these blogs there are days when honestly my iPhone touchscreen just doesn’t work, I type and it bounced five lines ahead and types over what I already wrote. There are days (yesterday) when the battery drains out. I have these issues with my computer, with my iPad, anything electronic. I feel I have a weird magnetic thing sometimes. I know it sounds crazy.

Additionally my father’s mother was said to have Mal d’Ojo, the evil eye. She would occasionally look at someone askance perhaps and then they’d have bad luck so they’d come to her to get it reversed. Whenever we would leave her she’d take her hand and run it down the front of your face to remove any bad feeling she might have sent you and make sure you were safe. I feel sometimes that I have a little sixth sense. I’m very empathetic and can usually tell what people need. I see all the details as you may notice from my posts. I sometimes have very strange coincidences arise that bring me to tears. I have had some very intense experiences with crystals, so much so that I had to stop wearing one crystal because it scared me. I had a premonition about a friend who died in a bicycle accident in college. I was asked by the universe to be present for a woman to help tell her that her husband had been in an accident, and passed on… only to find that I had bought a piece of jewelry that I believe to be magic from him 15 years before.

These are things I cannot explain. I feel a bit witchy sometimes, but not in an evil way. So when we heard that we are coming up to some of the more spiritual areas of the Camino that excited me, we were also told that these areas were the largest gathering place for all the witches covens in Europe. So anyway, for those of you that haven’t yet tuned out…

I was excited for the Cruz thinking perhaps it was a place with special energy. Suzy and I planned to take off our shoes off there and stand in he grass. Maybe this would be my grounding I thought. My soulful moment on my Camino.

The big mound appeared to us around a bend, a huge pile of stones with something like a big electrical pole in it and a tiny little cross on top. I had expected something more breathtaking with maybe a big vista below it at the peak of a mountain. I took a photo. We entered the tiny park nearby where many people were lounging about, some on their cell phones. The grass was sparse and worn in places and there were cigarette butts and broken glass all over. I slowly took off my shoes and found a patch that was slightly better and stood there with my toes on the earth. I felt absolutely nothing.

Too dangerous to go walking around I sat down under the eave of the chapel and wrote on my stones in Sharpie. On the slate I wrote a piece of prose that came to me while walking up the mountain, on the other I wrote words of hope for the future. I figured I’d make this ritual my own, throw the slate behind me towards the cross like you should and the quartz in front for my future. I walked up the heap from the front and stood there for a moment. I prayed and some tears trickled down my face. Where were the messages. Twenty five days and where was the inspiration? Where were my spirit guides? I cried more for those reasons than for any sense of peace from this cross. I threw the slate and then the quartz. We took some photos and were off back down.

We wove around and the descent didn’t seem so bad. And then we saw it, Manjardin. We’d figured we would stop in El Acerbo for lunch but we were immediately drawn to the funky shack that looked to be.m both the beginning and end of the town. Sign posts showed the distance to many places and a big banner announced this as an interpretive site of the Knights Templar, which honestly I still haven’t really downloaded the story of in my brain. We were invited in by a young man in a comic book shirt and army fatigue pants, he asked us to come and rest. Upon entering we appreciated the hodge podge of articles pinned to the walls, shells, trinkets for sale and religious icons in a small alcove. There was no food but we thought it had a great energy so we got two beers in cans and sat under the shade at the entry.

Because my battery seemed to not charge yesterday I’d had my phone in airplane mode mostly except for when I posted a photo of the cross… I’d seen that just an hour earlier Richard one the pilgrims we met way back had posted his photo, weird I thought he was much farther along. On the way down the hill I thought of another person in that group, she had walked a short way with her father, her mother sadly died recently and she and her dad has walked the Camino many times.

Despite the tranquil atmosphere at Manjardin I opened up Instagram and the first photo was of her and her mom. Today would have been her mother’s birthday, and she was feeling sad that she didn’t really feel her presence. I was struck by the fact that just minutes before I’d thought of her, a girl I’ve met maybe two times… I too know how hard anniversaries can be when your loved one is gone, my father Roman died in 1995. I told her that I knew how she felt and that I’d just thought of her, and maybe just maybe her mother was in fact trying to reach her but doesn’t know how to yet and that instead she was here on the Camino asking me to reach out to her.

I started to tear up and cry a bit. A lot of pent up energy and despite all the tears prepping to leave for the Camino very few here on the road.

The hospitalero that had invited us in asked what was wrong, was I ok. I explained that I was fine but just struck by what had just happened. He started talking about the place and that this was his calling to come to this place to learn healing and chakras and reiki. He asked to hug us and when Suzy hugged him he said, “I take a little of your light if you will give it to me?” Of course she said yes. I hugged him and noticed the amethyst around his neck as he gestured to it. I asked “So he white stone is quartz? Very powerful right?” And he said yes of course and then showed us the floor where 15 steps exactly in from the door, for the 15 knights, there was a spot on the floor where you could put your feet on a large block of quartz, and gaze at the icons in the alcove to increase your energy.

He told us he has been here for many years learning from Tomas the last of the Knights Templar all his teachings, he said his is so important the passing of this information to the next generation. All of a sudden I remembered Craig telling us we should meet Tomas and that it was a greatly interesting experience.

Meanwhile people were streaming in and out of the Refugio and some came and asked to see Tomas. The hospitalero told them, “He’s resting”. And they streamed back out.

We sat back down to enjoy our beers and the scene and then noticed that the place had cleared out. The hospitalero (I think his name was Frank) went into a back room and came out to present Tomas to us. We were stunned to have some time with this incredible man. He looked a little like Jerry Garcia with some thick black glasses taped at the nose with black electrical tape. His beard was white and a bit scraggly and he had a rope belt on with his Knights Templar black shirt.

He started speaking to me in Spanish and I caught about 95% of what he said, partially because of the language difference but moreso because of the metaphysical nature of it. We spoke for a long time, there really was no time. I sensed others watching but was fully engaged with him. The rapid fire download of information was so fast that I couldn’t translate for Suzy but knew she was getting the idea. We talked and talked and there is too much to tell, yet it’s not my place to tell to you yet, it was a gift for me for now. I need to help protect Tomas. He did share the story of a writer who had an incredible connection with him, an epiphany, only to then write about him in the New York Times resulting in a surge of “tourigrims” on coach busses coming to catch a glimpse of this “prophet”. He then invited us in to see the Refugio where he does his teaching. Mostly sunlight and a little solar power, no plumbing, no heat, very small and rustic. We couldn’t believe we were invited to see it. He hugged us goodbye and wished us well on our journey.

We left amazed, some other pilgrims asked us what he had told us, I tried to give them a synopsis but don’t think they understood. We continued on an extensive two hours downhill. The rocks jumped out at us and shifted under our feet. It hurt. It was scary but we kept remembering what Tomas had said.

We took a break at El Acerbo, had some lunch and rested our feet then off again another 2 plus hours over and down different and similarly challenging rock. It was so hard, I cannot express. The feeling of desperation tried to creep in so many times.

On fumes we reached Molinaseca only to find our Albergue Santa Marina was at the far end of town. We checked in at about 7:30 pained and tired but happy. Dinner was already in full swing but we were able to hobble back to town and find a place to eat. We also saw a guard pig outside a restaurant that was closed 😉 We enjoyed some gambas and pulpo (octopus) and I rested my toe which is now swollen and angry from the harsh descent.

Today was one of the most physically and mentally challenging days but also so full of gifts. What I’d hoped to find atop the Cruz de Ferro was found in a small valley with a man that you would not notice if he were walking down the street next to you. I can tell you a few pertinent and important things that Tomas kept saying to us. He said that the Camino will provide us with what we are seeking, maybe on the Camino or maybe after, but we must follow two important guidelines. “No tienes miedo y estas abierto.” He said this to me many many times. Do not be afraid and be open, and then your greater purpose will become clear to you.

Fear Not.

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