Last night’s Albergue San Miguel was a real find. They had art supplies available to guests so you could draw or paint, and the walls were hung with pilgrim artwork.
In the evening, I visited with three French guys about my age in the garden, and then we went out to dinner. Only one of them, Jean-Paul, spoke English, and he began his Camino from his home in LeMans! He’s walked 1,000 kilometers. The other guys were from the South of France and the West. I was supposed to hear their three different accents, but couldn’t really hear them. They left very early and were off to do 40 kilometers today!
The sun comes up at 8:15 this time of year, and I waited to leave until then so I could see. It was 41 degrees F , and my two wool layers were just right until the sun warms up.
Walking out of town, I met a guy who grew up in Danville, and then ended up walking mostly alone today. I’m enjoying the solitude, and listened to my epic playlist.
Today the Camino wound through hills and fields, and the light was golden. The countryside reminded me of the Contra Costa county hills with a little Sonoma County thrown in.
Then out in the middle of nowhere, we came to a concession stand where everything was free. There was an encampment near it with a real hippie vibe, like Isla Vista, in the 70’s.
Soon after, there’s a giant cross and a view of all Astorga spread below, with its Cathedral—kind of a mini-Santiago moment. A path appeared from the left, and some pilgrims approached. Turns out they were on the Via de la Plata, one of the other Camino routes that merges here in Astorga, with my route, the Camino Frances.
In short succession, I had a series of encounters with senior citizens.
A guy was playing Flamenco guitar with a donation box right there overlooking the view. I gave him some change and he asked if I was German or Dutch. When I said I was from Los Estados Unidos, he asked if I had a dollar. Turns out, I did bring a couple of dollars and gave him one. He was very pleased.
Just down the road there were three people of mature age sitting on a bench. “Buenos Dias, Peregrina!” It occurred to me that they came there for entertainment, since there’s a constant stream of pilgrims coming down the road. They interviewed me and it was fun to converse a little in Espanol. They did not like the fact that I was traveling solo. I told them my Mother doesn’t like it either.
Not five minutes later I had another conversation with someone of my parents’ generation, in a coffee bar. Jose was a native of the neighborhood and grilled me about where I lived, and where I’d walked. The guy behind the bar rolled his eyes a bit, it must be a regular thing.
Made it to the Albergue and I’m relaxing on my lower bunk, trying to decide my strategy tomorrow. It’s my first bunk bed experience of the trip. So far, I’ve had single rooms, which are still a good deal in the albergues.
Wish me luck with sleeping tonight.