Day 6 on the Camino started with a nice breakfast at my albergue in El Acebo.
After filling up my belly I set back out on the road. As I started the walk the path continued downhill the way it had ended the day before. My legs, however, didn’t feel as bad.
I started the morning with a series of stretches, much in the way that I ended my walks each day. I would continue doing this the rest of the Camino.
The first town I came to after El Acebo was Riego de Ambrós. I didn’t see anyone else around or see anything open. It kind of felt like a ghost town.
When you leave Riego de Ambrós you get into an area where you’re walking on stone through wooded areas. You have to have steady footing, and I think it’d be quite slippery in the rain.
After coming to a clearing I saw two ladies who were at my albergue in Santibáñez. One of the cool things about the Camino is how you keep running into people along the way.
After coming down the last stretch of the mountain I finally got to Molinaseca. It was a day later than I intended, but that was okay.
It’s a cute little town with a peaceful river running through it.
I stopped there for lunch and had a sandwich that was life changing. It was a regular bocadillo de jamón at El Palacio, but they spread olive oil on the bread, which took it to the next level.
Why had I never done this before? It was so simple and so tasty.
After enjoying the serenity of lunch by the river I continued on my trek.
The walk into the next city, Ponferrada, felt like it took forever. It didn’t help that it was warming up outside.
I don’t know if it was because I looked like I was really tired, but I walked past a house where a lady yelled out to me that I only had two kilometers left until Ponferrada. I was grateful for her encouragement.
Once I finally made it to the outer edges of the city I had to stop and sit. I really needed a rest. At the first bench I came across I saw Denise from Canada who had been in my room on the first night of my Camino. What a pleasant surprise.
Not only did it seem to take a long time to get to Ponferrada, it took a long time to get through Ponferrada. I knew I didn’t want to stay in the city, so I was trying to get to one of the small towns just outside.
I’d discovered that on the Camino I don’t really like being in the cities. The smaller towns allow for more of a chance to chill out, be away from everything, recenter myself, and connect with my fellow pilgrims.
I also found that staying in the smaller towns was better for me in the mornings. In the morning it was easier to get going out on the trail when you didn’t have to spend so much time just trying to get out of a city.
So I trudged my way through Ponferrada just trying to get out.
The next town after Ponferrada is Compostilla. I thought about stopping there, but there wasn’t a place for me to stay. So it was on to Columbrianos.
As I was walking out of Compostilla I came to an underpass that I had to go through before getting to Columbrianos. There was a man standing in front of the underpass and I didn’t know what his deal was, so I kept an eye on him.
I went through the underpass, and the guy started walking behind me. I didn’t know if I was being followed, but my senses were heightened and I ran through scenarios in my head.
The previous year I had been followed while walking my dog. I knew I couldn’t go home, so I went to another apartment building to ask for help.
Here on the Camino I started scanning my environment to see who was around who might be able to help me. What businesses were open? I looked around, and the guy was still there. Where was the nearest albergue? I looked around, and the guy was still there. Should I ask that woman in the car down the street? I looked around, and the guy was still there.
In my head I worked on the Spanish translation for, “Please help me, I’m being followed.” I looked around, and the guy was still there.
I was really glad to have my walking sticks because they powered me to walk faster than I ever had.
I kept power walking toward Columbrianos. I looked back and finally didn’t see the man behind me. As I crossed into Columbrianos I kept looking behind me and hadn’t seen him for a few minutes.
Once I felt fairly confident he was gone I checked into Albergue San Blas. I was grateful to be safely inside and ready to chill out for the rest of the evening.
It sure was a lot of excitement to end an already long walking day. It was one of many situations while traveling on my own where it seemed like my brain wouldn’t let me panic; I just had to figure out solutions. The most important thing to pack on a solo trip is a sharp mind.