15/05/12. Day26. Foncebadon (1440 m) – Molinaseca. 19km.

ImageWe had a sleep-in this morning and left the albergue at 08.30 after a good breakfast, and started the walk to Cruz de Ferro. It was a beautiful, clear chilly morning, perfect for walking.

Both of us are feeling really excited about finally reaching the cross and leaving our stones which we had  carried from home.

Just as we got to about fifty metres from the cross, a French tour bus pulled in and disgorged about fifty or so tourists who immediately walked up to the cross. They formed a big circle around the cross and started to sing then pray, then some more singing, then some speeches, then more singing and praying. This went on for about twenty or thirty minutes and many pilgrims who arrived about the same time as us left in frustration without getting near the cross.

I got a bit impatient and climbed up as far as I could go and pitched my stone, which was a flat beach stone on which I had written all the names of the people I wanted to remember in my prayers. Well the stone shattered when it made contact with all the other stones in the mound! My granddaughter had given it to me before I left home and I was so mad and disappointed when this happened, I took it as a bad omen. Iggy was a lot more patient than me and waited and let them do their thing. Eventually they left to the relief of everyone, we all got to walk up to the cross and have photos taken of each other. It was a memorable occasion but not in the way I had envisioned.

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We slung our packs and headed off towards Ponferrada which was our intended destination. The rest of the day was the most beautiful day we spent on the Camino, walking through mountain trails, glades and passes with birdsong and the smell of wildflowers.

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Coming down the mountain was rough enough going and had a toll on feet and ankles but it was worth the pain.

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We passed Manjarin on our way but Tomas the Templar was busy entertaining a few other pilgrims so we passed on.

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We stopped in Acebo for lunch, the day was heating up and we met up with Ana, John, from Arizona, and a new pilgrim from Texas called Mary, a tough sixty-nine year old who took a shine to Iggy. She wasn’t too impressed with me as we disagreed on most things.

John had left the cross without leaving his stone this morning because of the French tourists and was very disappointed as he was carrying his son’s ashes to Muxia and thought the Cruz de Ferro would be a special moment for him. I really felt sorry for him.

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After lunch we headed off again and reached Molinaseca by about three o’clock. As we crossed the old bridge to the town we heard Ana calling us from a riverside cafe down below We joined her, Mary and Annalise for a drink and chat.

After the first drink we decided to stay put for the day and I went off and organised a private room around the corner from the Cafe. We had a great afternoon chatting and laughing about different things that happened along the way.

Jim from New York arrived later and joined us. His ears were very badly sunburned as he only had a baseball cap but Ana fixed him up with some cream. We all had dinner together then went our separate ways to bed. What a great day.

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