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The Longest Day

Saturday, May 7. Acebo, Spain

Today was our toughest day yet. We had a special destination in mind—one that we’ve looked forward to from before this trip. To reach it required a hike of 27 kilometers, close to our longest distance so far. We had to make the decision at a point of no return which also involved a fallback Albergue that was “questionable.” But if we made it we would reach our goal in dry, if not sunny, weather. If we failed we would be hiking to it in the rain tomorrow.
We set out from Santa Catalina at 7:15. We’ve now left the gentle plains of the Meseta and during the day crossed several ridges and gained over 500 meters in elevation. We climbed up rocky paths punctuated by swamps and mud. After we reached our special destination we descended 500 feet through gullies lined by shale—the worst descent we’ve had on the Camino. I’m sure that goats avoid the path we suffered through this afternoon.

Albergue: No electricity, no bathrooms = no stay

Albergue: No electricity, no bathrooms = no stay

When we reached the fallback Albergue after our special destination we knew we couldn’t stay there. The owner considers himself to be the last surviving Knight Templar. But his facilities had no hot water, primitive toilet facilities located across the road, and mattresses on a floor. We chose to struggle another 7 km into the next village.
We limped into Acebo, located on a steep, downhill slope. We were rewarded with an Albergue where we are rooming with our friend Maria and two very interesting (in a good way) Spaniard Peregrinos.

But the highlight of the day was our special destination—La Cruz de Ferro (The Iron Cross). It is a special site where peregrinos leave mementos of burdens or special intentions. Traditionally peregrinos leave rocks that represent burdens but I saw pictures, medallions, and other mementos.

At La Cruz de Ferro

At La Cruz de Ferro

The location on the top of a mountain pass had meaning to the ancient Celts, the Romans, and finally the Christians. Now, it is a seminal site on the Camino de Santiago.

Dennis' Rocks

Dennis’ Rocks: RB for Ron Brooke and Reddish Triangle in Center

I left a small stone that my parents had signed to honor them. I also left a three cornered stone from the tide flats of Tacoma, the town where my Irish ancestors moved in the 1850’s. It represents my desire to honor the Trinity in my life and writing.

Laurie's Stones Representing Her Parents

Laurie’s Stones Representing Her Parents

Laurie left three stones, each collected from locations that were meaningful to her parents and stepmother. All have departed this world. I know that they’d all be proud of her.
Our Amiga, Maria, left a stone to honor her family. We’ve learned from our time with her how important the family unit is in Puerto Rican culture.
More than one tear was shed during out time at the Cross.
It was our longest day. It was our most difficult. But it was also our most meaningful.
Our prayers are with you all.
Buen Camino!

Our Location: Curious about where we are? See the map on the page. Not all our stops are on there. But we are currently in Ponferrada which is on the map.

As of today we have been on the Camino 29 days–walking all but three of them.