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Published: October 12th 2018
I don’t know what day it is. I know it’s the 12th, but what day? No idea. I’ve lost track and no one I’m with can remember. The days just roll into each other and it’s hard to look back and pinpoint an occasion on a day. It seems to be a Camino thing and does discriminate with age or sex.
It’s a public holiday in Astorga and the main square is crowded, noisy, and many people are dressed in period costumes; men carrying swords, women in colourful, puffy dresses, with bonnets on their heads.
I’m having lunch with Anton and Jasper, two 19year old Swedes who have finished school and are having a break, before confronting reality and working out what comes next. The Camino is giving them plenty of reality. They are lively, sensible, future oriented guys who are an endless source of how life works in Sweden, and seem to have private competitive quests, that involve posting embarrassing photos of each other on Instagram ( Anton 5, Jasper 4, at the last count ), and doing things that look strange if you aren’t in on it. They also play a Swedish card game called, Stress, and
it’s rapid fire and even exciting to watch; I’m going to learn that game, and I’m not a card man.
This morning started off full of anticipation. Astorga was 22kms away and I was feeling pumped; until I reached the railway bridge and realised that my poles were back in the albergue.
The doors in albergues generally open outwards, but don’t allow entry in the morning. Park, a Korean guy, was getting ready to leave when I walked out the door, and if he had left, I knew of no one else who was up. I hid my pack among some bushes in a park and ran back about 300 metres, and luckily he answered my knocking.
The day could only improve, but my mood was unchanged. I arrived in Hospital de Órbigo , a 5km walk, in 45minutes, and enjoyed coffee and a large croissant as I watched the sun rise over the town and its medieval Roman bridge. The Knights Templar had a strong influence in Hospital and their flag and cross feature on the church and predominantly in the town. Hospital is a tan and cream village with tidy winding streets that lead to
the only decision of the day, left or right; highway or trees, scrub and mountains. The road option is less distance, so many people opt for this. It’s their lose really.
My feet were hot, but most of today was spent on reasonable natural surfaces and my boots seemed fine. I walked alone most of the time, slowing down to chat to chat to friends I have met along the Way, and then moving on to maintain the pace I am most comfortable with. If you walk to someone else’s speed, be it slower or faster, you may develop problems.
I experienced two acts of kindness today and they always boost your energy for the road ahead.
The first was in Villages de Órbigo, where a man appeared from his colourfully decorated garage with a plate of mini tostadas spread with homemade plum jam. He offered them to pilgrims passing by and would accept no donation. He told me he did it out of love of the Camino and respect for the pilgrims. A sign painted on the road in front of his garage read, No Donativo. and a heart was painted next to it. I thanked
Knights Templar Town Of Hospital de Órbigo
Lovely winding roads, cream and tan buildings and ancient stone churches.
him for his kindness, and as I left he gave me a few plums. It seems quite trivial but such little deeds are really kind.
The second was a stall I have seen on all my Caminos and it’s situated at the peak of the mountains, about a kilometre before you descend into Astorga. There was coffee, tea, fruit, cakes, yoghurt and cereals, and the deal was take what you need and leave what you want. I think the guy in the hammock was just too casual to collect money.
At the Cruceiro de Santo Toribio, 5 Kilometres from Astorga , you get your first glimpse of the town, with the Cathedral a prominent feature, and Anton was hoping to be there in 40 minutes. It took over an hour, on hard roads and tracks, and I was relieved to arrive at the albergue and wait my turn to book a bunk.
I was placed in a vacant room , so as my criteria goes, I’m near the door on a bottom bunk. I’m all settled in, spilt the crushed contents of a bag of biscuits all over my bed and sleeping bag, ( it’s now on
Puente de Hospital de Órbigo
One of the longest bridges on the Camino. To the right are jousting parks.
the floor under my bed; I hope there’s no vermin problem here), and am having trouble with logging onto the wifi here. I’ll go somewhere else and give it a try, otherwise no pics today. I saw an inspiring sunrise over Hospital de Órbigo this morning and breathtaking views along the Way. I know pictures don’t do it justice but I’ll try to post some. Foncebadón is my goal tomorrow, a 27km trek up the mountains. But this is no Pyrenees. It’s meant to be a mild day and the climb is gradual in most places. This is where the Camino comes alive for me. The views are stunning, the paths are usually peaceful and easy to walk, and Spain suddenly takes on a warmer green and gold patina, as we head towards Autumn. If I want to shorten the day, Rabanal is a nice option to have.
Catch up tomorrow.
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