Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Villafranca - I had it coming ;)

Well, I guess I was asking for it. No, actually I wasn´t asking for it at all, but I had it coming. The next morning after El Acebo I marched in the direction of Ponferrada, quite excited about the prospect of visiting the Templar´s castle there! It was mostly downhill in slight drizzle on old roman paths (love them!!) and at some stage I was walking through the "Nightingale Valley" which was as lovely as it sounds. Huge old trees everywhere which must´ve seen thousands of pilgrims in their lifetime, tall, blooming broom bushes and the mountains as a backdrop. Walking through Molinaseca I couldn´t take the advice and bath in the river.... My guide constantly tells me "have a dip here", "there´s a good spot for bathing" and I´m just thinking "yea, well, NOT since I bought a bathing suit! I bloody jinxed it!" Anyways, when I arrived in the albergue in Ponferrada I was the last lucky pilgrim who´s washing was being accepted for washing and drying, hooray! That, on the other hand, meant that I didn´t really have anything to wear now....., apart from my little summer dress. Since I really, REALLY wanted to see the Templar´s castle I slipped into that with a little jumper and jacket over it, bare legs and sandals - and went out into the flying rain. Though everyone looked at me as if I wasn´t the full shilling I really enjoyed the castle, though it was.., yeah well.., very cold and wet. And afterwards I still had to find the post office and do some other running around. The next morning I felt even sleepier than usually and while walking I started to get stomach cramps. I didn´t pay much attention to it as I was walking through absolutely gorgeous countryside: soft hills covered in wine fields - the Bierzo wine growing region. The weather was nice too but when I finally reached Villafrance del Bierzo - the little Compostela - I did something I hadn´t done before: I stayed in. Stayed in the albergue and didn´t move. Now, Villafranca is called the Little Compostela because since the middle ages pilgrims, who couldn´t make it any further due to sickness, could receive the Compostela here, after walking through the "Door of Forgiveness" at the side entrance of the (romanic, 12th century) "Church of Santiago". The door is closed normally but apparently will be opened on July 25th, the feast day of St. James. Last year 4 pilgrims actually received the Compostela here, after much scrutiny of course, and this place is unique as there´s nowhere on the pilgrims route another place that offers this indulgence. The Church of Santiago is for some reasons considered to have the same spiritual grace as the Cathedral of Santiago, at least when you have severe health problems. So normally I would´ve been out there in a flash but instead crawled into bed with a burning head which was even more red than ususally (I seem to sport a red head, don´t ask me why...) In the night I suddenly woke up puking, same the next morning plus a blazing headache. I had managed to catch a full blown tummy flu - guess with the cold and all that crowding of people it´s easy to catch a virus. Anyways, I had to stay in the albergue (normally you MUST leave after a day, you can only stay when you´re sick) . At this stage I really want to thank my medical team. Aha! So you didn´t know I had a medical team on stand-by, but I do! My parents!! They´re both doctors and whenever something goes wrong I try to describe the symptoms and get advice through the phone. Of great help and peace of mind, for example when one, like me, suddenly discovers a blister UNDER (!!) the big toenail! Didn´t even know one could get a blister there (but unfortunately my right shoe is about half a size too short.....) My father´s advice was: "Drill a hole in the nail to relieve the pressure from under the nail." Ah..., yeah? Thankfully I could do the same from the front of the toe, but I was ready with my knife to do some serious surgery! ;)) So here is a BIG, BIG THANK-YOU to my parents!!!!! The best medical stand-by team ever! XXX

Back to Villafranca: I needed to look for a pharmacy, so I dragged myself out of bed, finally looked at the church (which is absolutely beautiful in its romanesque simplicity) and then walked into the heart of the little town, where there was a market in full swing. I found the pharmacy, and also this: pulpo. That´s octopuss, and just like you have beergardens in Bavaria you have `Pulperias´ in Galicia (though technically Villafranca´s not yet in Galicia). I´m always open to try new things, and I will (I promise!) try pulpo at some stage (already had it in Logroño in its ink, but not like this here..), but if you feel like puking, have a weak stomach and a headache, the sight of someone cutting up an octopuss with scissors is the last thing you want to see. I fled the scene, and slept for the rest of the day.
Have I grossed you out enough for this time? So sorry, I´ll try and be more considerate in my next post. :)))) Enjoy your lunch people! hehehehehehe.....

No comments:

Post a Comment