thehealingpilgrim’s travelblog 15

Matavenero continued………….

Uli and i gathered about 5 wheelbarrow loads of chestnut logs before calling it a day. We headed back to the house where he immediately asked me if i played Chess. I told him that i had played a bit at school but not much since, never the less i was happy to play if he wanted a game. We set the board up and it wasn¡t long before Uli had got himself into a strong position. I joked that perhaps it would be better for us to continue with me playing from his position. He immediately span the board round so that i now was playing from the stronger position. He still managed to eek out a draw. The game ended just in time for dinner. It was all Vegetarian and absolutely lovely. During the meal they asked me if i would like to stay at their house instead of the guest house in the village which i thought would be loads nicer so naturally said yes. I offered to try and ease Ulis tight shoulders and back with a massage if he would like. It’s not often people turn down a free massage and this was no exception. Uli said that some of the kids in the village have lice so they had put a clean pillow slip over the pillow for me. My head immediately started itching. After dinner Uli hopped onto the bed for a little sleep while Ana and i took a walk up the valley. We didn’t talk that much, just walked. On our way back we collected my rucksack from the guest house. Once we were back at the house i began the massage for uli unknotting the muscles between his shoulders particularly. It had started to get dark so candles were lit in the house and we began to read Angel cards for each other. It’s quite eary the way these card readings seem to so often reflect the things that are currently at the forefront of your mind when you read them. During the evenings conversation we had, something Ana said stuck in my mind. She said, “we are all just trying to do the best we can”.

Ana also asked if i could massage her in the morning before i left, which of course i said i would.

It was getting late so i said goodnight and clambered up the steeply angled ladder to one of the mattresses in the roof space for what i hoped would be a bug free night.

I think Ana was right!

We are all just doing the best we can with whatever we have and wherever we are at any one particular moment. It’s when we or others gauge our position with some sort of measurement ( often created by the society in which we live ) that we can fall into the trap of thinking we are are either doing well, badly or okay or whether our behaviour is good, bad or acceptable. At the end of the day though i really do think regardless of where we find ourselves in society measurement, we are all GENUINELY TRYING to do the best we are capable of at any one moment in time.

At breakfast the next morning ana said she had had a dream.

I was living in the village and she and i had gone collecting wood. She had a bit while i had more. When we arrived at a clearing in the forest, we came across the teenagers of the village and not only had they collected a load of wood but they also had a fire going. “they never do anything like that” she said.

A little while later Uli went into the garden to sort out the wood we had collected the night before while Ana got ready for the massage.

About 15 mins into the massage i noticed that Anas back had started heaving… she was sobbing.

I remained silent and simply carried on.

Eventually she propped herself up on her elbows to blow her nose and wipe her eyes. ” I need to turn over”, she said.

As she was now on her back i decided to massage her arms and hands. Almost immediately she began to sob again…..deep, deep sobs.

From the outside looking in one could be forgiven for thinking that to live in a beautiful valley in northern Spain with your own elected Mayor and totally left alone to live your life the way you choose, with people who you have chosen, nay picked, to live with you was as close to Utopia as you could get.

But clearly all is not well even on the ‘hippy front’.

We are all just doing the best we can!

If you are not at peace with yourself you won’t find peace in even the most beautiful of environments either.

Ana gave me a well handled teddy Bear to keep me company for the remainder of my journey to Santiago….and beyond.

I named new friend……..Uliana!

Ana and i hugged our goodbye at the door of her house and i set off to find Uli.

He was back at the Chestnut tree chopping more logs from it’s enormous girth.

“You know where we are Grant, see you again sometime”? 

“I expect so Uli, take care”

We hugged before i  began the steep climb back out of the valley.

My head was a whirlwind of thoughts as Matavenero gradually faded behind me.

I was back on the track and alone with my thoughts……..or so i thought!

I noticed what appeared to be a woman shuffling, slowly towards me down the track.

I was right….her name was Rosa. A Spanish woman in her 50s.

“Is there a village near here? My leg hurts and i have no food! I have come from Astorga and i only have these soft shoes! I don’t know where i will sleep tonight! Madre Mia a man in a skirt in the forest, where are you from? Is it cold there? Its so cold here, i don’t like it, i like Shrewsbury, do you know Shrewsbury? I have a tent in the forest, it’s okay in the summer but it’s too cold in the winter”.

“I have some bread if you like and there is a village not far where the people are very nice and i’m sure they will give you a bit more help if you ask” I managed to say before Rosa was off again.

“I don’t like bread, do you have fruit?

” I have a Kiwi, here take it”.

“My parents are dead, are yours still alive? I have nobody! Oh what lovely boots you have, look at my shoes. May i visit you if i come to your country, i bet it’s warmer than here, isn’t it”? Do you live in a house?, I have nowhere to live, cold i stay one night with you if i visit you?

“Of course you can but perhaps for the moment the village is your best bet, I look forward to your visit but i need to go now…good luck”.

By the time i got back to Foncebadon the weather was closing in so i decided not to walk any further along the Camino that day. They were suprised to see me back at the Albergue and wanted to knw how it went at Matavenero and as you already know that there is no need to speak further on the subject i guess.

I was joined that evening at the Albergue by a Spanish guy named David, an Italian named Francesco and a Swiss guy called Hans.

I didn’t sleep so well that night……..Hans snores……Doh!


5th Feb Foncebabon – Ponferrada

Overnight a few inches of snow had fallen and it was still coming down. It was dark as we left the warmth of the Albergue and stepped out into the snow filled streets. We decided that if we all  walked together then we should be okay to head straight up into the mountains. The morning colours were very dramatic and atmospheric. At times it was a bit of a struggle against the driving snow and we all reached the Cruz de Ferro just as an amazingly beautiful sunrise filled the sky. The Cruz de Ferro is an important part of the Camino. It is a place where pilgrims place a stone they have brought with them from home at the base of the cross and say a prayer. There are now so many stones at the base that it has formed a hill that you can climb up.

The Italians are not the same as the rest of us mere mortals – they are blessed race of people for one simple reason. They do not simply speak words the way the rest of us do… they sing them..every time they open their mouths.

As we approached the cross i said its name aloud by way of announcement. 

Francesco looked up from something he had been putting away and repeated in a questioning,singing tone that that steadily rose in pitch, “Cruz de Ferro”?

It sounded beautiful!

I took the stone Holly had given me from my bag and with it tightly held in my fist clambered up the hill of stones to the wooden base of the cross. I said a prayer for myself and everybody else to help us all find peace in our lives and to find the strength to maintain this peace throughout our lives. I took a handful of seeds and simply threw them into the air to seed, or not, wherever they may.

At Ponferrada we went out together for some wine and tapas and as we crossed the main square a lady from a tour group stepped toward me and asked “are you wearing your skirt in the traditional way”?

The saucy Nancy!!!!!!!!


6th Feb Ponferrada – Villafranca del Bierzo

I felt i wanted to walk alone a little bit today. I havn’t had many thoughts while i’ve been walking in this little group, which while it has been a welcome relief, i feel like a bit of social isolation is in order to see what pops into my head.

Nothing much happened to be honest and i found myself walking with Francesco again. I tend to get on far better with Latino peoples and think it is because they have a lightness about that i love.


Posted from ES
posted Sun Feb 07, 2010

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