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El Camino Run: A People's Pilgrimage for Climate Action

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Day 13: Ponferra to la faba

(Just a quick note: I've finished!!! I'm finally catching up on my posts. Expect a bunch more soon!)

Today was flat and warm. I crossed a large valley that is home to the small wine region Bierzo. The rolling hills with vineyards everywhere framed by mountains behind were beautiful.


Then I worked my way slowly up the valley to start climbing the last mountain of the Camino before Santiago. I’ve started carrying extra food to share with others I meet along the way. I shared my chocolate bar with two Japanese women as we started up the mountain. They seemed initially surprised and then really excited. It warmed my soul to share.


The right calf and shin got better as the day went on! With just a little rain and warm weather, my theory is that my calves and other muscles were looser than in the cold. Amazingly there was no pain going uphill at the end of the day! Of course it came back after dinner. I rolled everything out before dinner, but sitting for ~1.5 hours must have caused the pain.


As I mentioned yesterday, today I thought a lot about my experience in the city of Ponferrada last night. Why are cities so impersonal, even in places filled with pilgrims? Fear? Self protection? Too many other distractions? The practical reality of having to navigate the people, street crossings, not getting hit by cars, etc.? I’m sure there’s some truth in each one of these reasons. Can I be personal when I’m in big cities? The best I can do is try. I think this is one of the reasons I love living in a small town now. People will say hi and are personable most of the time.

I stayed at Albergue El Refugio in La Faba. The couple running the albergue (hostel) were so welcoming and friendly, plus, the other seven people staying there were very friendly. We had a wonderful meal filled with love and veggies, as well as great conversation. I met a husband and son doing the Camino from Miami/Columbia as well as some Brits and Germans. We talked about everything from go karts (the man running the hostel built one for the hills around the hostel!) to soccer, America’s Cup, and the huge amount of energy it takes to provide a loving place of respite for hungry and tired pilgrims every day for years.


After dinner, several people got up and said they were heading to the church for mass. Great! This is what I had expected on the Camino, but rarely encountered. It was a wonderful mass with ~30 people in this small little town. We had a great blessing after mass with people reading prayers and reflections in every language represented at the blessing. The local priest was overflowing with love. I really appreciate that the prayers and reflections are read in every language to include all represented.


While I’ve been thinking a lot about the Way / the Camino / walking with Christ, the priest’s reflection helped me to start thinking about the end of the Camino and what it means. I needed that. You all will have to wait until the end to hear my reflection! Stay tuned…

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