Our trusty taxi driver phoned late last night to say that he had a fare going to Rabanal and could drive us to Acebo if we wished. Absolutely we wished! He stopped at the Iron Cross at our request and took photos of us.
We made it to the Iron Cross! This is where pilgrims traditionally deposit a rock that they have carried along with them on the Camino. It symbolizes laying down a concern or burden that has been weighing them down.
I picked up my rock right outside of St. Jean-Pied-de-Port; it was fan shaped and reminded me of the Camino cockleshell. James wanted a river rock and diligently searched through several stream beds until he found what he was looking for. Both of our rocks ended their journey on this day.
I had two concerns attached to my rock. I am not sure that I can actually lay one of them down, but maybe St. James will give me a bit of help. Our friendly taxi driver–our third trip with him!–took this photo of us, using my tablet. He told us that some years back the pole with the cross was actually cut down by a malicious (or nutty) individual. The government replaced it, this time with interior reinforcement to thwart any future attempt to cut down the cross.
I wondered why pilgrims laid down their burdens here rather than right outside Santiago de Compostela. The taxi driver, Juan Manuel Garcia Cuesta, noted that back in the Middle Ages the Camino journey could take six months or more, so being a couple of weeks from the end of the journey felt like the end to them. I was a bit sorry to set my rock down.
After checking in at the auberge complex in which we are staying, we walked into the village, where we had lunch in the backyard of a cafe. The cafe advertised itself as a “terrace,” but really it was just a backyard, with a few tables with umbrellas set up. Next to us was a line with pilgrims’ clothes drying. Boy, those clothes looked raggedy. They have been used hard on the Camino. Three children scrambled around playing on some small plastic backyard playground equipment–a minature slide, rocking horse, auto. This lunch didn’t quite reach the bucolic level of the lunch we had with the donkeys, geese, and chickens, but it was close.
In contrast, the aubergue complex we are staying in is quite swanky. It has a swimming pool, quite a large one–the first swimming pool we have seen in Spain. The place was mobbed, with two large lunchtime gatherings and many, many family groups, plus several bands of teenagers. Of course it was Sunday, a traditional day in Spain for family outings and lunches. And this is probably the only swimming pool for miles around. Several of the pilgrims staying here, enchanted by the pool and the other comforts, have decided to stay over an extra day. I have to say that sitting on the terrace (a real terrace) looking out over the valley, with a cool breeze flowing in, was very enjoyable. Good WiFi, too, which is wonderful. No struggling to up/download.
Steps Today: 5,372
For more photos, see our page for July 3:
July 3, 2016: Rabanal del Camino to Acebo