June 9, 2011 Villafranca del Bierzo to O Cebreiro

Up at 07:00 for 07:30 breakfast at hotel. Felt weird to be a relatively ragged pilgrim in the midst of beautiful Spanish businessmen and businesswomen who are nicely dressed for a day’s work. My dirty clothes from yesterday have been transformed into nice-smelling, machine-washed laundry.

Out the door at 8:30 and up long hill to O Cebreiro. Decided that since I’d done the Camino Duro (the upper path above the road out of Villafranca) back in 2008 there was no need to do it this time. So I walked along the road, which was very quiet and had a much easier grade. Walked alone for first bit, then with Stefan of Quebec, Steve of Australia, and John of NY. Then caught up to Andreas followed by Nikki. Long talk with Daniel who turns out to be former Catholic priest, also with his friend Paula, a Russian from Australia. Had long talk about meaning of the camino.

Walked more with Andreas, then Mishael of Israel. Thought for sure he was Italian and indeed he is of Italian background. Hope to see him again and talk more Israeli politics. At La Faba caught up with Alexandre and arrived 16:30 with him at O Cebreiro. Went to pulperia and found Joy and Karl Heinz there. Room at home of owners, shower and quick bowl of Caldo Gallego prior to meeting Joy and Karl Heinz for dinner.

Dinner with them and their Swedish friend but before met 2 Bostonians — Christina and Margarita — here with their small guitars to make music. Christina’s Spanish reminds me how far I’ve come with my own.

Back to room for sleep, trying to stay warm. Fortunately 2 blankets in closet. Slept straight from 20:00 to next morning at 07:00. Would discover later that Sebastian and Catia were in town at the albergue, but totally missed them overnight and wouldn’t see them until Palas de Rei.