2014 Walking the Way

Day 25: Gratitude Day on the Way Villvante to Astorga – 22K

The morning broke early. The night had been full of dreams and I was trying to remember the symbols that showed up. However, on coming to full consciousness they disappeared from my memory. 

Lilly-Barb had slept hard and long, going to sleep at 9:30 and waking at 6:30. She is working hard on healing her foot and understanding the meaning behind its manifestation. Her efforts are bearing fruit as her foot improves slowly. She continues to love and appreciate herself letting go of that which no longer serves her. 

The lessons of the Way come in their own time. Some think injuries will happen in the first weeks of walking, however, the rules of the Camino are dictated by the needs of those who put themselves in its flow and when the experience presents itself one can only surrender and trust that all needs will be met, no matter the lesson metted! 

I felt great as we left the Albergue. My pack which has felt foreign to me the last few days, unfamiliar and uncomfortable, felt like my old friend again and I was joyful. My feet both felt fine and my initial walking was brisk, yet conscious. 

We walked for an hour then stopped at the first cafe/bar that we came to for a coffee and snack. Inside was the young couple we’d met twice yesterday, we thought they were newlyweds perhaps. They were from Denver, Co, had been married for two years. He wanted to come for the spiritual solitude of the Camino and his wife didn’t want him going alone. We liked them and were happy to have another pair of pilgrims to be connected to on the Way. 

The coffee was the best yet. The kind server also gave us a slice of pound cake with our Americanos. Lil was in a grouchy spot but once she ate and drank her flagging spirits raised and all was well. She reminded us that eating will help when feeling off or down. We then had another round it was so good. 

Our walk now took us through an old medieval town that was charming. Spain is a wonderful country for interesting and beautiful architecture and as we have progressed along the Camino it continues to be changing and varied. Lil took a great pic of me on an old Roman bridge. It felt good to be there. Perhaps in another parallel reality I’m a Roman engineer who built that structure. 

The day, another gem amongst the many we have enjoyed, began cold, the coldest morning yet, but by 10:30 had warmed up enough for me to shed down vest, sweater, and pants for shorts. Around this time we had our second missing the trail experience to date and it wasn’t a bad one. We were back on route soon, the path taking us up hills in backcountry, the first real elevation since coming to the Meseta. We stopped half way to eat lunch and were surprised by the wave of pilgrims that streamed by while we were sitting there, a group of three even came and sat near us to eat and rest. It amused me because I’d thought we were all alone with the exception of the occasional pilgrim passing by now and then. Lilly suggested that the Way is getting busy, May is the beginning of the Camino season. Yet most begin the walk at St. Jean Pierre de Port on the other side of the Pyranees in France and it would take 3 weeks at best to get here if walking at a very fast pace. Perhaps there are just many more pilgrims who began early this year. 

Toward the end of our backcountry walk we came upon pilgrim’s helpers offering simple cooked food, fresh fruit, water, boiled eggs, etc., all laying out on a lovely cart for the pilgrims to help themselves. There was a small donation box where an offering could be made if so desired but not expected. This part of the walk was without towns or fountains and I was in need of water so this stand was a blessing to me as intended. Another pilgrim came along, a tall young man, and taking a piece of fresh watermelon smiled saying “now all is fine!” 

The end of the trail led us to the edge of the plateau we had been on. In the far distance were the snow capped peaks that had been getting closer each day while in the foreground lay the city of Astorga beautiful and proud in her ancient status and glory. This city has been a major crossroad for trade in the pre and post Roman periods for Spain to all parts of Europe. 

The last 5 K were spent walking through another village before Astorga and then through the town itself as our hotel was closer to the end of the city. We liked what we saw though it was quiet due to siesta time. Our hotel we booked online and were very happy with it! A lovely room looking across the square to the beautiful Gaudi Palace (now a museum) as well as the magestic cathedral of Astorga. It had a real bath tub too! Gee, Lil and Will are getting spoiled! 

After checking I suggested that we “do something different” meaning than our usual routine of bathing, washing, etc. Lilly was game and both being hungry we went to look for a restaurant. She’d a good feeling for it so we ordered fried calamari, a fruit and goat cheese salad, sparkling mineral water and a beer for me. We ate out on the plaza across from the hotel sitting under the shade of an umbrella eating fabulous food and getting great service. We felt indeed like the king and queen feasting in front of their beautiful palace. 

We looked at our guide book and calculated that we have 11 days left of walking (if we are able) with one fudge day to arrive in Santiago on the 27 or 28. All of a sudden it seemed so close: to be on the other end of this amazing journey that once stretched out far in front of us. 

After our feast we walked around both the Palace and Cathedral but didn’t have much interest in either museum. Instead we went in search of the chocolate museum for Astorga is known for its artisan chocolate. It took a little sleuthing to locate but we did and bought a pound bar of 70% dark almond chocolate. It will be worth the weight to carry it. Later we found a grocery and restocked on lunch and snack staples. 

With that all accomplished we returned to our room and Lilly took a bath and washed clothes while I started today’s entry so I can go to bed earlier tonight. 

A few hours and a great dinner later it’s time to say: 

Hasta Manana Amigos!

       

Blessed friends. First Cows on the Way. 

       

Pilgrim stuck in time. Pilgrim’s rest stop. 

       

Will bridging realities. Cross and mountain. 

       

Astorga in distance. Astorga. 

       

On the Way. Puente Romano. The Gaudy Palace in Astorga. 

          

From our window. Best Salad of the Way. Heaven’s bells. 


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