Sunday, 16 October 2016

Camino Day 5 - foraging to Cacabelos

Our day began with an easy walk 3km, which, for me, then turned into an out-and-back 6km run. This is how it happened...

We had a good night at the municipal hostel at the end of town. A delicious lentil soup and plain omelette with salad made for a hearty dinner.

We left Molinaseca as the sky was beginning to lighten - around 8h15. Walking on an excellent sidewalk up the main road, we turned off onto a dirt road - through vineyards - after little over 2km. And there we were walking along, almost in the village of Campo,  when mom remembers that she hadn't put any money into the envelope for her bag courier!

"It will be a nice run for you," she says.

I left my pack with her and ran back to the albergue. Cool and humid, it actually was a really good run for me and I enjoyed stretching put my legs and feet and exercising my lungs. I popped the money into the envelope, sealed it and headed out the door again. 35 minutes later I was back with mom - and very sweaty!

I've found that if you just shove the guide book into your backpack then there are interesting bits that you miss out on. Today I decided to keep it in my hand, reading bits as we neared town.

Just before Campos there is an old Roman water cistern that is still functioning! It is about 150m off the route, just before the town. It really was a treat to see; the water dribbling along a rock 'trough' and into a rock 'basin'. It is inside a room with a vaulted roof and a shallow pool of sorts. It really blows my mind to consider how old these things are - and they still function.

Just next to the Fuente Romano our eyes were drawn to a massive fig tree, some of its higher branches reaching over the wall to 'our side'. We spotted some ripe figs and with mom holding on to my leg so that I wouldn't slide over to the other side, I grabbed a couple. Delicious! We've seen many fig trees but the figs have either been unripe, on the other side of a fence or out of reach.

And so began our day of foraging.

Of course I've been eating blackberries for the past three days, where ever I can get my hands on them. I didn't get any today - finished on the bushes in this area.

Between Campo and the major town of Ponferrada are loads of veggie gardens. We've figured out that these must be allotments, or possibly even stands of land owned for the express purpose of growing fruit trees and vegetables. Many are totally amazing and I especially love seeing the massive pumpkins.

Outside of town we heard a buzzing, which mom correctly identified as remote-control cars. We stopped to watch them flying around a dirt track - flying into the air over big humps.

In Ponferrada we stopped to get a slice of tortilla and what they call and empanada (a savoury pie). It is very different to the empanada of South America and not as nice. I won't buy one of these again. The tortilla was superb. We ate it in the shadow of the 12th century Template castle. We didn't go inside (4€) but looked around. Quite magnificent. Some other peregrinos, who we're getting to know, went inside.  They said it was interesting with some walkways and you can walk up the turret. There's also a room with period costumes and such. But no rooms with tapestries or such.

The route through Ponferrada took us on a lovely park track overlooking the river (Rio Boeza). Compostilla and Columbrianos seem continuous with Ponferrada, like suburbs. Also loads of veggie gardens here. 

The final sections through Fuentes Nuevas and Camponaraya had us back out into the open and walking on dirt roads through vineyards.

Most of the grape vines are old and low to the ground - not staked and structured like those with which we are familiar. This is a wine-making area.

There are also a good number of abandoned vineyards with weeds growing high between the grape vines and 'For Sale' signs visible. The grapes have all been picked but here and there small bunches can be foraged. It was from these that I grabbed some grapes - yum! Small, seeded black grapes that were sweet and juicy - this is the way I like my wine.

On we went - mom was flagging but focused on getting to our end point. We enjoyed a few rests on benches and made it into Cacabelos in reasonable time (a bit over 20km in 7.5hrs - excluding the distance of my 6km run!).

We're staying at an albergue at the end of town (5€ each). This one has an interesting structure of a ring of twin-bed rooms arranged in a semi circle around the church. We'll walk back into town later for dinner. After all the figs and grapes (me eating most of them!) I'm good for a hearty bowl of soup tonight.

Our route tomorrow will take us through Villafranca (big town of around 6,000ppl) and to our overnight stop in Trabadelo. Splitting two stages into three was a really good plan. There is an interesting route option  that I'd love to take but it is very hilly and steep and it skips Trabadelo (headed for a few more towns ahead). So it doesn't fit into our adjusted plans and mom definitely won't enjoy the hills - up or down. So we'll take the more interesting of the other two routes.

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