Camino ~ Astorga to Foncebadón

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Day 3 … Tuesday, 4th August 2015

Didn’t really want to leave Astorga. It’s such a pretty town built inside preserved Roman walls. Because I got in late the day before, I tried to explore the town as much as possible with the little time I had here.

The Plaza Mayor still full of life, churches surrounded by stone remains of past civilizations, Guadi architecture, the town’s fame chocolate and charming alleys.

I saw my first Camino sunset from the best seat in the house, on the Murallas. So mesmerized in the final moments before twillight and the silhouettes of windmills on mountain tops that I forgot about my washing and hurried back to do whatever I needed to. By which time the albergue lights were already out and I had to grope about in the dark making as little noise as possible. 

Before setting off in the morning, I lingered for a while more taking photos of the cathedral and pilgrims starting early.

Met a Taiwanese girl who was thrilled to meet someone who speaks Chinese. Told me she hadn’t spoken a single Chinese word for the past three weeks and was feeling kind of weird. She started at JSP with a friend who gave up after 4 days. Unexpectedly left to continue her journey alone, she somehow lost her backpack, managed to recover it after wasting an entire day searching but suffered a fall a few days before we met. Still limping, she was determined to go all the way to Santiago.

I accompanied her and we made good progress together but she wanted to rest midpoint at Ganso and so we parted. I felt unusually fit and pushed on one village after another, one wheat field after another. The thing about the Camino is one extra km walked today is one km less tomorrow.

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So instead of stopping at Rabanal, the mountain village near Roman gold mines, I followed a group of Spanish pilgrims to the next village Foncebadón.

That’s my daily total walk of 27km and a 500m accent to 1,400m.

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Foncebadón was a neglected, broken village until pilgrims stopped for the night to have an easier climb the following day to Cruz de Ferro, the highest point of the entire Camino.

When I arrived, all the inns were full except the last one on the hill. URGH!!! More climbing.

Didn’t have lunch, feeling light in the head, weak in the knees. Just needed a cold drink, a shower and food in that order. But there’s a queue at the registration and only one elderly caballero taking care of everything.

P a t i e n c e.   Hang in there for a few more minutes and all will be fine…at least there are beds available ..

…and WiFi which we depended on to communicate with our family and friends, and for me to post my daily blog .. but ..

the internet was turned off at 9pm sharp. Suddenly everyone started talking to each other and then the albergue felt more of the Camino spirit.

In the conversations, I learnt that a young lady had a horrible attack of bed bug bites from the night before at a village after Astorga. Within a day, her entire body including the soles of her feet was covered with boils. She had to abandon her walk and be taken to the nearest hospital for treatment. Apparently others had bug bites too from the same albergue but they were not aggravated. Unfortunately I couldn’t remember the name of the albergue except that it charges only 5euros and seems a little too sluggish.

Tip on albergue : As the Camino becomes more popular, the number of establishments serving pilgrims are also increasing, some may be cashing in and may not have the proper facilities to run a refuge. I understand the Spanish tourism agency has strict guidelines on the health and safety of licensed pilgrim accommodation so it is advisable to stay in those that are listed officially. If anyone has more information, do share your experiences. Thank you.

 

Joan Yap

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