In Ponferrada, we stay in Albergue San Nicolas behind the church. Miguel, the volunteer hospitalero, greeted us and stamped our credenciales; he gave us a shell each, a simple shell the size of a hand with the red Cross of Santiago on it and strung on red yarn.
Later in the evening, he is sitting at a table in the dining room as he works on these shells, stringing them on red yarn and painting the Cross of St. James with a red marker; he also makes candleholders with the shells–para la Virgen, he says referring to the chapel on the grounds with the image of our Lady. Miguel has a physical disability just the same limp left arm as Chus in Astorga.
Miguel likes to play music at the albergue and he plays the Monjes from the Monastery in Silos singing Stairway to Heaven. I am not sure I like the instrumental arrangement. I prefer the original version.
When he takes us to our room, we find the two Korean women from Astorga also staying in the same room. Quentin, the Belgium pilgrim we have encountered time and again, is also here; in fact, he has been for since the day before visiting the Castle and the museums–they are free on Wednesdays.
He tells us he stayed at El Manjarin with Tomas and the other 3 who live there without running water or electricity. He said that they held a Templar Mass and that he thought it was special. but he also called it “crazy.”
Becky and I walked to a shopping area of town to buy groceries–excellent pears, del Bierzo, and yogurt and juice for tomorrow’s breakfast. We also went into a stationery shop and I bought a small Hello Kitty notebook.
Our walk during the day was perfect, no rain, no wind, no fog! We walked by Riego de Ambros a quaint village where we met a grey kitty who reminded me of Tito back home.
After several kilometers walking through rocky and muddy climb, we arrived in Molinaseca, where we had lunch at Casa Ramón. When we walked into Molinaseca along Calle Real, Becky went to buy batteries in a shop at #27 and asked if there was a good vegetarian restaurant.
The owner of the carnicería directed us to Casa Ramón where they could cook whatever we wanted; everything is fresh, he said. As we were eating, the owner and the wine delivery man chatted and then who should appear but the butcher, he is son of the owner of Casa Ramón! We had a good laugh when he greeted us and asked if we liked our meal. Indeed it was a great meal: I had acelgas (spinach) and stuffed chicken and for dessert a pastel de castañas, a delicious cheesecake drenched in a home-made syrup.
As we walked, during the day, Becky picked up a rock that “called” to her. I have resisted because of the weight. I love the many kinds of rocks and feel that they do speak to me with such different kinds of energies. The slate we walked on today, the quartz of yesterday, the plain round red rocks all around. Each with energy and properties.
Falling asleep in Ponferrada, I have the sense that the rocks do indeed speak to me. The connection between the Milky Way and the Ley Lines exists through those of us walking on the Camino as intermediaries, or interlocutors, translators for the message. We are all part of a grand network.