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Published: October 14th 2016
Trying to see in the dark
Torch on the track first thing in the morning
I have rested here for the second day and can't wait to walk again. I have been reunited with people from previous days and made new amigos who have since moved on. Much as I love Astorga I need to walk tomorrow whatever.
On going to my room I was amazed to see Gladys, the French speaking lady from Lebanon. I thought she was miles behind as she was doing very short distances but she's taken the bus a few times, been ahead to Rabanal and got a lift back to Astorga with the hospitalera from the albergue at Rabanal. She is delighted to see me to let me know about the superb albergue she stayed at run by English people.
We explore Astorga together and buy some shopping so we can make some Ensalada mixta later. In the kitchen there are two Taiwanese ladies I also met at the same albergue as Gladys. It feels forever ago and must be about two weeks. There is also a couple from the Czech Republic, Hannah and Martin, who attended the same prayer meeting as me and Gladys. I may tell you about that another time. For now
suffice to say it was funny!
Leaving Astorga it is dark and misty. This is the part I enjoy least as its harder to spot the signs and you can't see much anyway, even with the torch. Showers had been forecast which is an improvement on what had originally been forecast of heavy rain. Despite the weather the scenery is greener than before. It feels quite different. I walked alone for a bit and then saw a lady in front. Its funny how some of us just pass each other with good wishes and with others a conversation strikes up perfectly naturally. It just feels right. So it was with Maura and we chatted the rest of the way to Rabanal del Camino.
The albergue recommended by Gladys lived up to it's reputation, other than for the fact that I turned up at 12 noon and it didn't open till 2 pm. The weather has held off so far, being misty rather than showers but it's dropped cold. Maura and I go to a bar, me to wait and her to decide whether to go further. After a coffee and consideration of all the options
Maura decides to move on - its still early and she has to be back on a certain date for work. I stay in the warm. Its not long before Dawn an American lady turns up and we have a happy hour together before she moves on.
When we eventually get in the albergue we go through the normal routine and are invited for tea and biscuits at 5 pm. It's divine. In between times a group of us warm ourselves in front of the woodburner in the sitting room. The hospialeros are very knowledgeable and we pick their brains on anything from travel options to recommendations for which bar to go to and menu choice.
I'd eaten before Ann (Edinburgh), Christine (USA) and Christiana (Italy) as they'd been at mass but we sat together when they turned up. We can all vouch that the Pastrela de La Casa at the bar opposite Albergue Gaucelmo is the best recommendation ever and to die for. Its a cheesecake but had a texture more like bread pudding. Lighter in some ways and stodgier in others. Ann thinks it had almonds in it and after eating almond cake yesterday (taste of
almonds not very evident) I think she may be right. Served with a trace of strawberry jus which you wouldn't think would be enough to taste but certainly was. Divine.
Again I start in the dark and mist. There are fewer pilgrims today. If we were zombies the other day we certainly are today. Vague figures placing feet carefully in the mist.
Showers have been given but there are no showers, just the mist/fog. Again there is greenery and it feels good. There is a scent of citrus and at times cinnamon, then citrus again. The first week I started the walk there was often the most beautiful scent of citrus.
The greenery now is more similar to then and the experiences more similar. There are some beautiful little blue birds, the colour of swallows and in flight with a white stripe each side of their fantail. I love those little birds, they are similar to a finch.
There are some quaint little towns, wooden first floor verandas into the street, some too rickety to walk on, many brightened with red pink and sometimes yellow or white flowers. Early on on the walk I stop at a coffee shop that includes all the treats and comforts of the other bars but without the modernisation. Its simple and rustic. The young tender is generous and speaks excellent English. Christine and Ann are just leaving and Michael arrives and joins me.
As I walk into Acebo I hear a voice behind me 'Steph!' Its Maura. We are so pleased to see each other again and immediately strike up in conversation. As we turn a corner further down the mist suddenly lifts and we see the most beautiful mountain scene. It was the most wonderful experience. A complete revelation out of the mist and after the dryness before Astorga. Its as if a veil has been lifted to allow us into another world.
I decide to stay and not over do it and Maura goes a bit further. We hope to meet tomorrow as I tend to get up early and walk relatively quick. As it turns out that didn't happen. I overlay and Donna a mutual peregrino amigo, now at the same alberge (14th Oct) ells me she went a bit further.
About a week ago I started to see mountains in the far distance. I love the mountains. They are strong and firm with an alluring softness. As they fold in and out of themselves and each other, range in front of range. They are a pillow to rest your head, a crumpled duvet to pull up and keep you warm, the folds a safe place to rest, the crook of an arm should comfort be needed.
Today has been one of the most enjoyable days. Although at low level it has felt as if we are right amongst the mountains. Its impossible to take a photo that gives any idea of the beauty and magnificence.
I enjoyed the wheat fields for their goldenness and the meseta for its difference but nothing can compare to the glory of the mountains.
The scenery is more similar to that at home now but there are grape vines instead of strawberries or raspberry canes, the planting seems more precise and geometric. There is a straight line of something different along the boundary of a field. Something red against the cornrow style planting of the green . the colours are changing now and becoming autumnal with all the richness that gives.
For the past few days, each town I come across is my new favourite. They are a cross between an old Elizabethan street in England with overhanging windows/verandas and goods such as fruit and vegetables displayed on benches outside in all their splendid colour, as naturally grown (not standardised) on narrow streets and a cowboy town in the wild west.
We have had sunshine again today which can transform even the dullest day today into something better. Today has been one of the best with spectacular view after spectacular view.
I haven't seen Maura but I overlay this morning so started late and a mutual peregrino amigo believes she has gone to the next town.
I heard from Reinhold yesterday and Julia is finding it tough and may not be able to continue. I hope it works out for them.
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