Molinaseca to Villafranca del Bierzo – Part 1

Distance walked today: 30.7 kilometres
Total travelled so far: 607.3 kilometres

I continue to be amazed by the beauty of this place. It seems that almost overnight the trees have fully developed their leaves and the vineyards now are a show of tiny bunches of grapes, each grape the size of a pin head. In contrast, the TV in the bar where we stopped for breakfast was broadcasting news of a big snowstorm just east of us. How was that possible?

This disconnect just added to the growing feeling I had of being in some kind of an altered time dimension. In some ways it felt like I had been on the Camino for months and months. However if I read earlier entries in my journal, events that happened three weeks ago seemed like they had just occurred within the last few days.

On top of this, I didn’t carry a watch with me, so in that way I had a different sense of time too. I ate when I was hungry, slept when I was tired, and if I needed to know the time I could always listen for the tolling of the church bells in whatever community I happened to be in at the moment. I did carry an emergency cell phone with me so if I really needed the time I could pull that out from the bottom of my pack and turn it on, but I rarely did that.

One note about cell phones. If you are planning to walk the Camino, do yourself and all the other pilgrims a favour and leave your phone at home (or keep it packed away just for emergencies). Cell phones were at times a horrendous intrusion on this trip. I remember one night in particular a man had his cell phone in the sleeping area of an albergue. Its ring tone, some insipid little ditty, must have been cranked to the maximum in terms of volume and he was constantly getting calls. He made no attempt to speak quietly either. Finally I asked him if he would turn it off. He was really good about it but I couldn’t understand his having it on in the first place; it showed such disregard for the others in our room.  Also, isn’t one of the reasons for walking the Camino to get away from the constant demands of things like cell phones?

Leaves developing on the grape vines
Tiny grapes

Too much information: a guy with his cartoon-charactered underwear hanging from his pack to dry.
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