The Magic of the Camino

Hospital de Orbigo to Astorga – 16kms

Another leisurely morning was planned with a 16km today, so I was lazing in my little cubby until Jean sent me a photo of breakfast. I was out of bed, dressed and downstairs in two minutes flat.

I had kiwi fruit with breakfast! There was toast with the most amazing homemade cherry jam (heaven), watermelon, some other melon that tasted amazing, cheese, orange juice and the all important cafe con leche. Talk about “under-selling” breakfast.

I still managed to be the last one out the door, yet still managed to see the sunrise… at 8:30am. I LOVE being a morning person in Spain!

I stopped at Santibanez de Valdeiglesia and came across Gwen and Bill. Sadly, the fresh orange juice machine wasn’t operating, so I had to go with a cafe con leche instead. Tough decision. 😐

Amazing what that little drink can do as we had a bit more pep in our step when we headed off.

While the gentle rolling hills have started appearing, initially the landscape was still very much in keeping with the Meseta.

I was feeling pretty bouncy and cheery though. (Hoping it is not the cafe con leche because I can’t maintain this at home.) I passed an Australian couple who were face-timing their grandchildren and I heard them ask if they saw the other pilgrims walk past, so I turned around and waved. (I met the lady down the track and she thanked me because her grandchildren had become so excited that someone was waving to them!)

How quickly the landscape changed.

With a little Meseta thrown in so I don’t easily forget it.

I knew it was 11kms from our coffee stop until Astorga, so I wasn’t looking forward to this ongoing trek when in the middle of nowhere, I came across an incredible oasis.

A man had set up a space offering organic fruit of everything imaginable, boiled eggs, crispbreads with spreads (I missed this), teas and so much more.

I sat down in the hammock chair and just floated, taking in the view.

As I sat there, looking up at the dappled sunlight coming through the tree, watching the man welcoming people and encouraging them to take food and watching people responding, I became overwhelmed with the sheer generosity of spirit.

My heart felt fully open and filled with love and you could feel it in the air around every single person standing there. The tears began to fall.

I remember having a conversation with Irish about people doing the Camino multiple times and her wondering about the “Camino spirit.” Her thought was if you are open to talking to people, you could get that feeling anywhere.

At the time I agreed. Today, I got a sense of how the Camino is different. I have travelled extensively and always quite happy to chat to complete strangers, but I have never encountered what I experienced today. This was something incredibly special.

It took every ounce of effort to leave this magic.

Astorga was 6kms from here, but the last few kms dragged. It was hot, hilly and rocky, so tiring mentally having to pay attention to where to put your feet.

I needed another toilet break, so happily ducked behind trees as there was no other pilgrim in sight. When I returned to the path, I got a bit of an eerie sense, so I looked behind me and had a bit of a freak out as there was another Walking Dead herd of pilgrims. Helped me move a little quicker!

With a bit of grumbling about the positioning of the towns and villages to spend the night always seeming to be up a hill, I finally reached Astorga.

I was treating myself here as I am staying two nights, so staying at the fancy Hotel Via de la Plata Spa. It’s like the Westin at home and there is me rocking up looking (and feeling) like the BIGGEST HOBO! I was hot, sweaty and dusty.

I got into my room, took my boots off and fell onto the bed and remained there for the next 90mins.

Finally, I thought I should move so I hopped up and opened the door to the bathroom… and squeaked out loud.

It was huge with a bath so big I could lie down in it. The shower was a combination rain and massage shower. Plus, there were enough toiletries to wipe the hobo look away completely.

I took the longest shower, wrapped myself up in the enormous, fluffy white towel, slathered myself in body cream and dried my hair with the hair dryer. I felt utterly luxurious.

Stepping out of the hotel feeling fabulous, the next need was getting laundry done. I spoke to reception and they said they could do it… for the grand sum of 25€ (about $40!) and I thought, pass. That is far too many Gin and Tonics.

Once I threw the laundry in at the laundramat, I wandered back to a store I’d seen while Google maps was struggling to find where I needed to go. I have been hoping to find a small knife so I can buy cheese etc and create my little picnics along the path. Sure enough, it had the perfect item for absolute peanuts (4€) and I now have the bonus of a corkscrew and bottle cap remover!

I still hadn’t made it to the cathedral or palace and Google maps sent me in the complete wrong direction so by the time I finally found it, I decided food was more important, so will return tomorrow.

Dinner wasn’t anything special, but I managed to catch up with Bill and Jean and Sarah and Evan for a drink afterwards.

Evan was in the process of trying to eat a traditional menu. I say trying because at the point I arrived, he had pig’s ears on his plate. His next dish was chickpeas, potato and cabbage, followed by a soup. He was a good sport as he tried everything while we laughed at how awful it all was.

It was time to head to the room and I bought an ice-cream to walk back with. The weather was gorgeous and it was lovely seeing so many people out.

Now I’m not traditionally a bath person, but nothing was more appealing at this moment than running a bath, filling it with bubbles and lying in it until I become a wrinkly prune.

Tomorrow I will be more prepared and will have a glass of wine to enjoy while in the bath, but for now, simply enjoying the magic filled day.

2 thoughts on “The Magic of the Camino

    1. Taking full advantage of it because tomorrow is the scary climb to Foncebadon before the horrific descent into Ponferrada! 😬

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