10 May, Today I finally saw an honest to god Templar Castle. Not the ones you see on TV or the movies or one of those ancient places that everybody claims was one….but doesn’t really know. It was basic, not much to it. Just like a modern day military installation on the outskirts of a town designed to house soldiers to go out into the countryside and protect people. (Just north of Ponferrada)
However, the town has grown and the castle is virtually now at it’s center. The crenelated towers and walls are impressive. If one were a soldier back a thousand years ago, it would have been a nice assignment, perhaps. The Castle at Ponferrada was just one of many Templar facilities along the Camino designed to protect Pilgrims….and serve as a reliable banking/credit system for the more affluent ones. I guess being a Templar was a pretty good gig, back in the day; part soldier, part priest and part banker. They did it all, until that fateful day in 1314 when their boss Jacques and his lieutenants were burnt at the stake. Still, the castle is impressive.
We’re definitely out of the Meseta now, “Death to the Meseta, long live the mountains!” I’m back in my comfort zone with winding, rocky paths that constantly undulate up and down and along the ridges. The sights, are spectacular. They remind me trails in both Alaska and three Austrian Alps.
We’re still in spring and the sprouting, colorful flora of purples and yellows amongst all that greenery is a sight for sore eyes. Unfortunately, there are still many trails outside the villages and cities where the hardened paths follow roads and fast moving trucks. The highlands are glorious but coming down from them is not so enjoyable. But, it’s not the Meseta. Tomorrow will be 25 kilometers of following more roads, then, finally, back up into the mountain paths and away from civilization, for a while.
It’s all about the feet. The second most common greeting amongst Camino friends, other than ‘Buen Camino’, is, ‘how’s your feet?’ It’s kind of a strange salutation until you’ve walked a while and realize that it’s all about the feet. They set your morale level, your enjoyment and pain levels and even determine how far and fast you’ll journey through this adventure.
I have baby feet. They hurt, constantly. Even with incessant attention, they’re covered with old, dried up blisters and plasters over the new ones. The boots and sandals always feel like vice clamps, no matter how tight or loose they are. I just have baby feet and there’s not much I can do about it by carry on.
Complaining does no good because complaining about a common issue (almost everybody’s feet hurt) never finds a really sympathetic audience. I’ve decided to get philosophical about it. Pain is a part of life, you can try to ignore it, but if your truly aware, you’ll see it everywhere. My feet hurt and will until a few days after I get off this trail. It’s just part of the journey, one has to learn to absorb it and not let it influence your outlook.
It’s the lynchpin to everything. It’s my means of communication with Ursula and the rest of the world. It’s my camera. It’s my music. it’s my blog computer. It’s my map and GPS and serves as my source guide book for all things on the camino.
I’m an Idiot. I’ve dropped it so many times that the screen is cracked in so many places. I did buy the ultimate protective case, but it was too big and heavy; I left it at home. I settled for a leather case that covers both sides. A good option, except during the day when I walk, I take it out and place the naked phone in my pocket. I don’t think it likes it in there because whenever I sit down, it jumps out and splays itself all the rocky ground. The old movie saying truly applies, “Stupid is as Stupid does’.”
I hope I can stave off further stupidity until the end of this trip. Waking the Camino without this one little device would take on a whole new character I wish not to live through. I don’t understand how they did it a thousand years ago before the advent of Apple. (Just North of Ponferrada)
Interesting Links (Just North of Ponferrada)
- Photos along the Camino and throughout the Iberian Peninsula
- Return to the beginning of this Journal Blog
- Enjoy our Journal Blog about our travels throughout Italy