Our day began by sharing breakfast with more Germans and it ended with Brazilians and Belgians. And in between was a lot of walking and reflecting.
We started in Hospital de Orbigo, all decked out in its medieval festival finery. You can tell we’re leaving the flat Meseta and heading into the hills; in fact, we had a few climbs pretty early in today’s walk. Some of our fellow walkers are looking more familiar. We’re all walking similar stages, so that isn’t a surprise. And today we started seeing more donativo rest stops; people who are providing rest and refuge to peregrinos because of their devotion to The Way, or in honor of somebody they’ve lost.
The walk itself was fairly uneventful. At “only” 13.5 miles, it’s one of our shortest stages. A man played a song for us on the way to San Justus De La Vega, and we saw a pilgrim with his donkey. Random things, but they are adding to the experience for sure.
We cruised it into Astorga and only got tired when I got lost trying to find our albergue. Our hospitalero, Patricia, is from Brazil. She opened this place after completing The Way in 2018. And she provided an excellent homemade dinner for us. Seriously amazing. Before doing this, she worked with people fighting addictions and at dinner, talked about living “for the day.” Only worry about the day you’re in, and you can conquer anything. We talked about the pandemic, and how it’s impacted so many lives. The below image came up on my Facebook memories today. Two years ago was supposed to be our walk. It obviously didn’t happen, but the fact that it showed up today, right after Patricia’s talk, is coincidental to say the least.
The food was excellent, and so was the conversation. For the first time, I’m understanding the concept of your “Camino Family.” These are people you meet and get to know a little more on your Way. Paula and I were in a smallish supermercado, grabbing some snacks for the next day, when we ran into Maria from Germany! She asked us about our first two days and we chatted; it was a nice conversation. And at dinner, we got to know Claudia, like Patricia from Brazil. She’s a physical therapist who is still seeing first-hand the effects of Covid. She is riding this Camino on her bicycle in honor of her patients who survived, as well as those who didn’t. Paul and Leva are from Belgium and on their second Camino, 22 years after the first one. He’s retired, the former financial director of Leuven University in Belgium, one of the largest and most prestigious Catholic universities in the world. I’m getting to know these people behind surface questions. I feel like my Camino Family is forming.
Tomorrow is a big one. We go to Foncebadon at the top of Mount Irabu. 15 miles with about 2,000 feet of vertical climb. Foncebadon promises to be interesting; we’re staying in a convent there, and the entire place has a population of 13. Buen Camino.
PS: Some of these pictures don’t seem to be loading right now. If they’re still bad tomorrow, I promise to replace them.
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