The evening in Hospital de Óbrigo was an emotional one. I’m not sure if it was the peacefulness of the albergue or the fact I was alone and in pain but the hospitalera was so kind and listened while I jabbered on about mom and life in general. She was good at her job. Hospitaleros train for this volunteer role and must have previously completed the full Camino. Like watching P.S. I Love You, it was a fine emotional release. lol
For some reason I felt awesome the next morning but I knew that I should have rested another day. They told me I could stay as long as needed. Maybe I’m in worse shape than I know because usually you are only allowed to stay for 1 night. The day started out well and the landscape was so beautiful. The ground was red clay and against the undulating green pastures my camera was ready at every turn. Bees were buzzing, birds were chirping but not cuckoos today. I was watching the farmers plow their fields and tend to their orchards.
Today, there are little towns about 2.5 km apart today as I climb to 925 metres. At the top of the climb is a pop up oasis manned by handsome David. He provides fresh juices, cafe, tea, water, and fresh fruit to all pilgrims free. The sign says la Casa de los Dioses (Abode of the Gods). David smiled broadly and welcomes you with a fresh cut watermelon, a place to rest your feet and head in the cool shade. This is awesome after that climb!
Leaving David and heading down the hill you reach Cruciero Santo Torbio and a beautiful stone cross where a 5th century bishop fell to his knees after being banished from the town. The hill is steep and approximately halfway there is a Spanish guitarist (Roma) who asks you where you are from and sings you a song with your country name included. It’s not very good but fun and worth a euro donation.
From this vantage point you can see San Justo de la Vega and the beautiful city of Astorga with Gaudi’s Palace proudly displaying its grey-blue spires. You feel you can reach out and touch it.
Reaching the bottom I’m begging for a beer to quench my thirst and praying for servicios (washroom) because this lady can’t seem to use Mother Nature as a toilet. It is a last resort! lol
The camino did provide and in San Justo I see the familiar red, plastic chairs and umbrellas full of people chattering in their native languages. Using every possible muscle to get me there faster and clenching teeth and other parts, I did the pilgrim dash. With urgency and confidence I rush by the bar requesting a San Miguel grande por favor and enter the washroom. Returning to the counter your beer is poured, you pay your 1.50 euro and find a seat to savour this golden elixir. You have worked hard for this!
After the beer, it is back on the road because I need to get to Astorga. Crossing a river bridge, walking along a concrete building for what seemed forever to arrive at a metal railway bridge before a steep ascent to the city took approximately 1 hour. The city looks so close but is really 2-3 km away. It was very hot today!
The first place I found was an albergue run by volunteers. I got a bottom bunk in a room with 3 other people. A Spanish couple from Bilbao and a Brazilian man. Now, this is the part where a I wonder why men don’t wear new “gotchees” for the Camino. Really men, I know you like to be comfortable in the nether regions but when you are climbing that ladder your stretched out, grey underwear doesn’t cover your bits! At least buy some new underwear to keep the jewels in place. I’m afraid to close my eyes for fear of nightmares. Then there is the excessive aerosol deodorant spraying that is enough to set off an asthmatic attack. I actually value the attention to hygiene just not at 5:30 am.
I went out and explored after my shower and had dinner while watching a show in the square. Hitting the sack around 10:00 pm after tending to my blisters I readied myself for the symphony of snoring. Little did I know I would be the one keeping people up. The lady from Bilbao shook me around 2:00 am. Lo siento (I’m sorry)!
The hospitalero turned on the lights at 7:00 am and we had to be out by 8:00 am. I decided that my feet would be fine today if I took it slow. Boy was I wrong!