We’re walking the Camino de Santiago in June 2022. Come along with us!

Day 5: The Camino Family and the Monastery

The three people in this picture are from the 209!

A funny thing happened on the way to writing this blog post, dear reader. I, Will DeBoard, am not sure where to begin or what to say. Those of you who know me know this doesn’t happen often. So I think we’re going to go with what made this day my favorite day, so far, on our Camino. Say hello to our Camino Family. Our walk started in Ponferrada and ended in Villafranca del Bierzo, and so much happened in between.

Today was the day that things really clicked with us and the people around us. Many of them have gone from people we say hello to during our walk, to genuine friends. We walked with Steve and Yvette from Miami, here on their first day. We walked with the guy from Vancouver who calls me “Cali.” Kate from Scotland made multiple appearances, as did Cal Poly grads Anika and Kate. In Villafranca, we ran into the cousins Janet, or “Janet Squared,” as I like to call them (they asked me if I was an engineer after I said that. Nope!). Sidebar: One of the Janets’ real names is Carmen, but she doesn’t like that name so she’s Janet here. The group from Bucknell that is spending three weeks here. One of the professors, Colin, is from Modesto and a Beyer High grad. I posted our picture on Facebook and, creepily, it asked me if I wanted to tag him. We aren’t FB friends but we have mutual friends. We ran into the Korean Actress again as well; thankfully for her, we didn’t see any cats (she’s deathly afraid of them). More on her later.

It extended into Villafranca, where we noticed, as we were eating dinner in the “Plaza Mayor” that we knew or at least had walked with people at about 50% of these tables. And again, Spain does plazas right. This was equal parts restaurant, meeting place, dog park and walking spot.

We may never see any of these people again, but for a short and fairly intense time, they are extremely beloved and important to us.

The walk itself was through wine country and beautiful. But also, so many rolling hills! Why can’t vineyards be grown on the flatlands?

There were many fruit trees growing next to the road, and a woman from Italy – I never got her name – picked a couple cherries and ate them. She turned to me and said “Symphony!” and I think that’s about the best description I’ve ever heard of food.

And then we rolled into Villafranca, where our albergue owner told us they didn’t keep our beds, even though we had a reservation and ALREADY PAID. No worries, though, I went to booking.com and found us another place. Turns out, that place is a 17th century monastery and they gave us keys to the front door as well! This monastery is apparently the setting for a well-known South Korean TV show. Lots of Koreans here and all of them are legitimately starstruck, except for Korean Actress. She’s just rolling around like she owns the place. We saw some cats across the street, though. 😉

I waited until after hours to try the key – it worked. And also wandered around the premises until I got a little creeped out and came back to our room. It’s a neat place, and even though it was rough to be told “no beds!” the alternative was outstanding.

What’s next for us? Paula has tweaked her knee and after 230,000+ steps over the last five days, I have exercise-induced vasculitis. It looks worse than it is, but a rest day is in order. Since tomorrow is pre-booked, we’ll be taking a ride to O Cebreiro instead of walking. As my creep sister Christina told me, “You aren’t a spring chicken any more. You need to be more careful.” So we’ll see what tomorrow brings. Until then, Buen Camino.



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