The Day We Taught Sue How To Play Pooh Sticks
We all slept well last night in the small Albergue (Tio Pepe) in Mazarife. Both Julie and Sue had a bit of a surprise when they stumbled upon a naked man who was sleeping on the sofa in the community room (less said about that the better!). We chatted about the weird witches that were hanging from the ceiling which are something to do with this region, but I am not sure of the history (perhaps a Google search may help?)
We were on the trail by 7 am after hot coffee and toast (Spanish toast is a French loaf cut in half, and yummy).
I can smell the end of the Mesta as the landscape is getting a little bit greener, and it was wonderful to watch the sunrise and warming our backs as we trekked on. It is a reminder to always look behind you otherwise you will miss some fantastic scenery.
When the road is that flat and monotonous you need to source things to keep your mind active. There is only so much soul searching and “thinking” time you can do in a day, so the creative spirit made an appearance in the following ways…
- Our adopted pilgrim sister from California (Sue) now knows what Pooh sticks is! (I lost!)
- We danced in the sprinklers which was more fun than it sounds!
- We sang our hearts out to mainly Disney tracks.
- We played “spot the stork”
- We ate wild aniseed
- We popped blisters at a cafe
- We heard a man burp really loud in a village (which does not sound that exciting but certainly gave us the giggles for at least 200 yards!).
My blisters are merging together and I am now limping when I walk. It’s not pretty!
The main village that stood out today was Hospital (not the clinical version)
The bridge that you cross to walk into this quaint town has 19 arches and is spectacular. Rachel and I visited the old church to grab a stamp (sello) before we met up with Sue & Julie and indulged in a long lunch.
We spent over one hour in this village just eating, drinking and “people watching”. There were elderly Spanish people sweeping floors and walking hand in hand along the path. School children on a little outing with their high-vis vests on. Even older Spanish grandparents riding their bicycles (they must have been in their 80's!). There was something extremely peaceful about this place and I hope to return someday. We eventually grabbed our packs and were once again on our way.
The other thing that caught my attention today (apart from the blisters!) was the storks. There are huge storks in their nests on every church steeple and even electric pylons. I even walked into a sign today because I was looking at the storks rather than where I was going! Little did I know that the storks will be changing into chickens within a matter of days!
An Oasis… no a petrol station
We walked along in the sweltering heat for miles and miles. Rachel and I had our trekking umbrella's but it was still way too hot for comfort. We then got into a routine of stopping at a bus stop every few hundred yards for just a small break from the sun. In the haze on the horizon, we spotted what we thought was a cafe, but it was actually a petrol station. Needless to say, we dodged the traffic and sauntered across a busy main road to take comfort in a coke and ice cream! Sitting outside on plastic chairs, with my shoes off and giving my feet some air, whilst consuming the best ice-cream I have ever tasted was absolute heaven!
The last three miles into Astorga seemed to go on for ages and ages. I walked with Sue whilst Rachel walked with Julie. The heat was crazy hot and even though we could see the Cathedral in the distance it never seemed to get closer! We had to cross a big green bridge, over roundabouts and along side streets. Eventually, we saw the sign for the Albergue and signed in. We had made it! I have no idea how my blistered feet managed to walk over 20 miles / 30 km today but they held up ok.
The municipal in Astorga is opposite the cathedral and it's huge. We are in a room of 12 beds with mixed men and women. I’m hoping that there will not be many snorers! A fellow Italian pilgrim called Enis made everyone a wonderful pasta dish with mixed salad and cheese. Wow! Another pilgrim shared dried mango and pineapple. It’s such a different world on the Camino and I love it!
My only regret is that we didn't really get time to explore Astorga. Apparently, there is a chocolate museum and even the cathedral which is only across the path from the hostel was too far to walk that night.
I washed our clothes and fell asleep before 9 pm. I was beaten!
Today was a gruelling 21 miles (or 19 if you look at Julie’s Fitbit). We had more good bits than bad.