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reveries of an amateur long-distance hiker

May 4

May 6th, 2016

May 4

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Villafranca to Las Herrieas. Some days the walk is not really the highlight. I missed the mountain path turn out of Villafranca so it was a road walk most of the day. Apart from a pleasant stop by a stream in the shade, an unremarkable day that was redeemed by the simplest of things. The Camino is now filling with short term pilgrims so the only way to be sure to get a bed at an Albergue is to stop early. When I got to Herrieas I got a bunk, shower and strolled over to the local bar, finding a spot out front facing a field with cows, a stream, and a bellowing bull. Rudy and I went in to order beer but found the place packed with the carpenters and stone masons working on the building next door. On their lunch break, they had the bar keeper running to pour drinks –a dark liquid from heavy label-less bottles. W soon found ourselves with beer and tapas, listening to the ringing of the single belled cow. Not a sounding brass nor a tinkling cymbal, we were regaled with a clanking bell. Going in for a refill, I passed the bartender eating his lunch, a rare steak. I smiled appreciatively and soon he was cutting slices for me to take out with my beer. When Gloria arrived he went in for more and later set us up with a bottle of local cider poured through a special electric pump to be sure to leave the dregs undisturbed. Realizing this was a special man and bar, Gloria went in and negotiated a steak dinner including chorizo white bean soup and remarkable local wine. Some days you have to follow where the trail leads you.

T. Hugh Crawford

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