Camino de Santiago Day Twenty-Six:Molinaseca to Cacabelos Nourishment

25 04 2018

The adorable room at Molinaseca would have been perfect if it wasn’t for the woman who shut the window in the middle of the night. The yoga studio like third floor room was a veritable sauna that had me wake sweating. It was not the best. I cannot imagine a Camino in warmer weather. It must be absolutely brutal. It was so nice though to have our beds rather than bunks. All of my clothes are filthy so I just put on the least filthy ones and went.

We were as usual the last people in the room and we dawdled quite a bit as I was finishing up my blog. The hospitalero who was cleaning up the breakfast gave me a cute yellow arrow pin and then soon ushered me out as he needed to clean.

Our walk began and we noticed new spring flowers erupting from the roadside. Orange poppies, wisteria and purple and white lilacs. The purple had a very subtle and elusive smell, but the white were haunting, the smell reaching you even before you sighted them.

The toe hurt a bit on the downhills but wasn’t excruciating. I still can’t understand the toe, I figure there must be something I need to release and it’s coming out as this aggravation in the toe. I tried to keep my foot relaxed in the shoe and not grip with my foot where I didn’t need to. We approached Ponferrada through a valley of suburbs and nice homes with lots of gardens. The day was fully sunny but with a constant cool breeze, very good walking weather.

We entered the town and turned a corner and gasped at the vista of a medieval castle that popped out behind the corner. It was absolutely stunning. We probably would have walked past but a Korean pilgrim was coming down the road and told us that admission was free today so we went up and found that this was the castle of the Knights Templar! We toured around and walked up the steep steps but were too fearful to climb the tall turret around the steep stone circular staircase.

Just steps after the castle we lost our way for a second and back tracked to the visitors center, a truck had been blocking our sign. Good thing we stopped and got a map because the route through the town is very sparsely marked. We were also able to find the Moneygram on the map and set out in the direction of the Camino to find some food and hit the Moneygram later. There were a couple average looking sandwich places and then what looked like an abandoned brand new mall. Very weird area, so we zipped up a side street to the Moneygram. While the cash was being dispersed I googled restaurants on Google maps and found one a mere two blocks away and I got totally lucky.

This place was amazing. We ordered two white wines to celebrate getting cash again and they gave us tapas of chorizo in cider. Then we ordered gambas al ajillo (garlic) and pulpo and it was honestly the best pulpo I’ve ever had, just chewy enough, perfect texture and spice and the gambas? They came out in a sizzling platter with tons of olive oil and garlic and we had brown bread to sop up all the oil. So decadent. We ordered two more wines (the wine portions are small here, honestly) and got a potato tapas with fries ham. When the chef came to see if we liked it all we asked her to recommend one more thing so we got the chichos, a chopped up loose Pork sausage like thing, so delicious. I’m so glad we found this place, Meson del Tres Portinas, it’s well worth a few blocks off the route.

After our feast we hit more suburbs out of Ponferrada and then small little towns along the route. Not that exciting but pretty enough and the scenery changed as we went, but the afternoons are always hard, we have to try to be more like the night vision goggles people… get out earlier but it’s so hard!

We wove through lots of vineyards which are for the local wines of Bierzo, reds made from Mencia. The old gnarled vines were just showing the first signs of life and were starting to bud, sap flowing. We passed a cute trailer called la Siesta where some men invited us to join them but we kept on because we had to do laundry. We came into Cacabelos past the Consejo Regulador office, the group that monitors the wine quality of the region.

Our Albergue La Gallega was in a great spot on a little square with lots of outdoor tables. We got our laundry in and sat outside for our “apres ski” beverages and pulled out the guitar and did a few songs for he group. We ran into Jean again who we’d met at Valverde and Sheila too and a bunch of others. While Suzy was playing I scoped out a restaurant just around the corner that had chuleton!

Once we gathered our clothing it was out to get our meat on. They served us a delicious joven wine, youthful and bright, tart very vibrant violet in color and perfect in its simplicity with this meal. They presented us the steak raw for approval. It was awesome. They served it with a blue cheese sauce and sun dried tomatoes. Carlos, Carlos and “mini” Carlos posed for a photo. We headed back to bed happily satiated. We are going to make a small jump tomorrow to try to get to a spot where Jean is scheduled to be working as a hospitalero later in the week, see if we can shave off some time.

Sometimes the nourishment we receive on his journey is physical, the resources to build muscles, heal bad toes and fuel the work we are doing. I think over the course of these weeks (four!) away from home I’ve changed my body. The pants that were too tight are now baggy. The ones that were comfy are big. They say you can tell where pilgrims started by how heir clothes fit. I’m so grateful for the gifts of sustenance and nourishment I have the opportunity to receive.

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