It’s 7:30 pm and we’re in our private room at the Hostel Virgen de la Encina, Ponferrada, French doors open to the balcony and church bells ringing constantly. Earlier an accordion duo was serenading the square. Before this, I washed the day’s socks and underwear in the sink and laid them on our small balcony on top of my quick-drying pack towel. A small bird landed on the balcony, and I watched, first amazed and then horrified, as it grabbed the edge of the green towel in its beak. I’m convinced that only my sudden shrieking and movement prevented my underwear from fluttering down into the square.
Each day is full of little surprises like this, quick workarounds and temporary solutions. More after dinner.
Dinner starts at roughly 8 in Spain and may last a couple of hours, which is lovely, but not quite ideal for people who have walked all day and need to wake by 6. So, we’re chilling. Literally—it’s drafty within these stone walls.
Now it’s 9 pm and we’re waiting for our dessert order, sitting in a square near our hotel. This is the thing about the Camino—you really don’t have the motivation to do a lot of sightseeing after logging 15+ miles. We walked the grounds of the Castillo Temple de Ponferrada, a medieval Knights Templar castle right outside our hostel, and we were both shocked to see how many stairs medieval folks thought were necessary.
Spain at night: the whole town comes out in these small villages to gather in the pedestrian squares and walk their dogs. So many dogs! It’s part promenade, part neighborlinesses, and it’s lovely. We saw Kate and Anika from dinner last night, and a few other familiar faces. (The accordionist is now playing “I Just Called to Say I Love You”.)
Now it’s 10 and we’re back in our room, doors open to the music, exhausted but happy. Today was an ascent from Foncebadón to Cruz de Ferro (the iron cross), then more ascent to Manjarín and steep rocky descent through El Acebo, Molinaseca and Ponferrada. Tomorrow is a flatter and shorter trek, which should feel good.
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