Firstly a note to those who are 'following by email' and therefore receiving the automatic daily email updates. You won't have received an update yesterday for Day 20 as we did not have an internet connection. So today's email should include Day 20 and 21. If you'd like to read them in order, just scroll down to Day 20.
We enjoyed a delicious 9 euro dinner last night at our private albergue, El Caminente, joined by peregrino Liz from Melbourne. We had met Liz a few times earlier along The Way but last night was our first time having a good chat with her, and she was delightful company.
Anticipating a fairly tough day today, after a quick caffe con leche, we left Santa Catalina around 7.45am. After yesterday's -1, we were expecting another very cold morning, but it was not to be. By the time we set out, we estimate it was about 5 or 6 degrees, a great temperature to start the day. The sunny weather has continued to surprise and delight us.
We walked for about two hours on a gentle incline to Rabanel del Camino, a distance of approximately 10 kms. Rabanel is a picturesque village, particularly the small, leafy square which is home to a Monastery and Refugio attached. We each made a mental note that if we are ever on The Camino Frances again (!) we would stay overnight in this village - and recommend others do the same.
From Rabanel, we continued upwards to the highest point of our Camino, to the monument of Cruz de Ferro. At Cruz de Ferro, a simple iron cross stands atop a 5 metre wooden pole, a replica of the original preserved in the Museo de Los Caminos in Astorga. A mound of stones has been building at its base over many years. In 1982 a small stone chapel was built by the Cross.
Pilgrims are encouraged to reflect upon their journey at this special place. They will typically leave a small stone (often brought from home, as we did) to 'leave behind' something of themselves of their journey, as a memento in memory of loved ones, or to signify the laying down of a burden they have been carrying. The cross has become an enduring symbol of The Way of St James and has become a place were pilgrims often reflect on the purpose of their journey.
We were fortunate to reach Cruz de Ferro with the sun shining and to find just a small number of pilgrims there. We spent some quiet time in this peaceful place, added our stone and other mementoes to the base of the Cross. We each in our own way reflected on our Camino, our wishes for health and happiness for our family and friends, and gratitude for the many blessings we have in our lives.
We set off from Cruz de Ferro to walk the final 9+ kms to our resting place tonight in Acebo. The last 5 or 6 kms was a steep descent on a rocky, and often narrow, path. We are delighted to report that we made it in one piece - with knees, shins and ankles faring pretty well. More 'down' tomorrow, so fingers crossed!
Before we sign off, thank you to Nina for your comment on our Day 20 post. Great to hear from you - thank you for your best wishes for our Camino.
Jenny xx and Jill xx