Day 16: El Acebo, 34km

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How can I begin to describe today. I suppose by saying it was one of the best walks I’ve had thus far. It is also the furthest, and prettiest. Finally, my legs feel strong beneath me, and are willing to carry me further.  I feel absolutely exhausted, and elated. This day is what I’ve been waiting for.

But first. Last night. The group I’m with now is a rambunctious bunch. They are full of personality, very unlike the quietness of my previous cohort, this group is rambunctious to say they least. Primarily French and Dutch with a few Anglophiles. The best way to describe them is this: around 10pm when everyone retires, the main group of people wander in and notice someone is already asleep and snoring with great volume. One in the group barks loudly, immitating the dogs outside. The poor man who was fast asleep (though, disturbing the peace) awoke with a start. The whole dorm rolled with laughter. They are amusing to say the least. He did not snore (or perhaps sleep) the rest of the night.

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Today day started with threatening rain clouds, sprinkling briefly before giving way to stark blue skies. I walk fast apparently, though I left around eight I soon passed those who started well before me. And by noon was in my intended destination. Amongst those I passed were two families with children ranging from 8-15, from Germany. Seeing families doing these sorts of things makes me happy. In large part because it helps to squash the fear I have of having a family. I’ve grown tired of hearing “travel now before you have kids!” But seeing families like this, or toddlers strapped to the backs of trekkers in Nepal, bouncing sleepily away, gives me a sense of comfort. That having kids is not the end of adventure, but the beginning of another sort. I can’t wait to show my own kids (one day) this incredible world.

So, at lunch in Foncebadon, where I had a bed and showered I met up with two guys I met yesterday. They suggested I go another 10km with them, since it was clearly far too early to end. I was feeling good, and decided to join them. Though it meant leaving a bed (which they graciously refunded me) and a backyard with miniature goats, puppies, and a donkey (!).

Did I mention today was gorgeous? It may have been the best so far. Undulating hills spotted with purple and yellow flowers. Finally, some hills! After a few kilometers we came to Cruz de Ferro where pilgrims leave stones that represent their journey. I brought two stones that I picked up, one in the shape of California I found hiking Bolinas Ridge, and the other from Kamiake Butte, in WA, with the shape of the state. I still don’t know why I’m hiking, other then, for the adventure. So I was surprised when I found this place so emtotionally moving. Scattered everywhere were rocks with dedications, “for the son I lost,” with pictures, with dedication to love. People left stones attached to their greatest scars, their deepest joys and loves. It’s difficult not to be moved. I left my stones as tokens of love, for my family.

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From there the road descending sharply, eventually leading to El Acebo. My legs ached, but it was worth it, to see the cross today when almost no one was there, to walk with new friends, to finally hit bigger distances. It is difficult to describe how happy I feel today, I want to swim in my elation! But tomorrow is a new day, with new challenges, and I can’t wait to see what it has in store!


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