The next few days rushed by and I hardly had time to enjoy the peace and tranquility of the Camino way. We completed walking in the Leon Province and then entered the hypnotizing countryside and vineyards of the Galicia Region.
Elizabeth and I were eating, sleeping and most importantly walking together, day after day, with no breaks from each other or the schedule. To pass the time, sometimes we discussed history, politics, how talented she was twirling her walking stick and how difficult middle school was. We took care of each other, me by ensuring her toe blister was cared for and her by handing me her walking stick each time we descended steep hills, so I did not kill myself in a tumble. We were both entirely committed to each other’s success here and in life. She seemed to mature right before my eyes and my stress levels vanished to a non-existent level. The life I had was perfect at this time, as we wandered up and down the hilly pathways and inched closer to Santiago.
Departing Ponferrada, we enjoyed the path out of town because this flat Camino section runs parallel to a river or creek that was partially visible with our head lights. But just when I thought it was going to be an easy day, we were faced with a monstrous stone staircase that needed to be climbed. It was only 6:00 am, and I was already overheated and panting climbing these killers. But once we arrived at the top, it was satisfying to know that we were able to do it without stopping to rest. Our bodies and our mother-daughter bond were getting stronger by the day. After the stairs, we were rewarded with a lovely stroll through the edge of town. We then entered the bountiful and green, wine producing region of NW Spain known as Galicia.
Spain is the worldwide leader in exporting wine, ahead of even Italy and France, and its wine production dates back 2,000 years. Galicia is well known for its lush landscape, white wines, and seafood. At one point on the Camino, we approached a large wine production factory that bottled wines called Vinas de Bierzoso. It was opened to the public and although there was a wine tasting area, this was a real wine factory with its workers in protective clothing and hairnets. I wanted to buy a bottle but did not want to carry it, so we continued on. It was so nice to walk in and out of different grape vineyards during this wonderful day and we sat down regularly to enjoy the pretty scenery.
The heat wave continued to haunt us and that night while staying in the lovely town of Villa Franca del Bierzo we found some relief. The town has a picturesque river flowing through it with a beach area for swimming and sun bathing. This place seemed different from the others to me in that it wasn’t a typical Camino type stop with tourist stores everywhere but a real town with restaurants, stores and locals who were out and about, working and socializing. I liked it here.
After checking into our Refugio, we went for a swim in the crystal clear, fresh water river. I expected to see many pilgrims cooling off but didn’t any. It did not matter because we had a ball. Elizabeth was thrilled to be swimming and devouring ice cream at the foot of Leon mountains we had just walked over. The icy cold water was the perfect remedy for my aching legs and Elizabeth’s sore foot.