Day 19 : Hospital de Orbigo to Murias de Rechivaldo

Steve : Up at 6 after a literally infernal night (see yesterday’s post). Haven’t felt this tired since we tried to give away Jen to Homerton Children’s Hospital at 2:30am one morning when she was 18 months old. “Here, take this child, we haven’t slept for months, thank you, bye…”.

Anyway… the hospitalero tells us over breakfast that it’s around 10 deg C hotter this year than last. Oh dear.

I plaster my feet with some fake Spanish Vaseline (someone recommended it and I’ll now try anything) and stagger out the door.

Across some scrub and up a hill – finally the path was diverging from the main road. Took lots of photos of half abandoned Spanish villages…

The evil sun was up and doing it’s thing but I thought it wasn’t as bad as yesterday. Maybe this peely-wally Scotsman was finally getting used to the orange orb thing in the sky?

An impromptu cross and peregrino monument

After a couple of hours rambling through some nice countryside I came upon what can only be described as an oasis.

A couple of locals had set up a stall, with covered sitting areas and interesting bits and pieces.

The stall was piled high with fruit, fruit juices, coffee, a huge variety of teas and they even had a pizza oven. A large sign said in several languages “Free, help yourself”. And it really was. I filled up on fruit, coffee and a took a couple of boiled eggs. I tried to wash my cup and our benefactor insisted that I let him do it. There was a small box marked ‘donativo’ but there really truly was no sense of any expectation. All our host wanted was to hug everyone as they left and wish them Buen Camino. I put a few euro in the box and left, thinking that some folk really do make the world a better place.

Back to the trail along the roadside, unfortunately, as I approached Astorga.  The roadside trail may be boring but the graffiti isn’t.  Camino graffiti is definitely of a higher standard…

Something big was happening in Astorga – the main square had a religious statue in it and it looked like a procession might be happening.

A Gaudi church

But peregrinos can’t hang about. We had decided to aim for a vegetarian albergue in Murias, so after two more breakfasts, one in each end of the town, I headed out into the midday heat to get the last 5k done before melting time.

Another roadside monument

I arrived at the very splendid Albergue Casa las Aguedas around 1pm and checked us all in.

Then rinse, lather, repeat of self and clothes and the lounging around can begin….

J and H didn’t show up until late afternoon after an epic 35km hike in the heat of the day. Thankfully today’s heat of the day wasn’t as bad as yesterday but nonetheless – much respect!

This albergue is very quiet and plays Windham Hill type music at subdued volume throughout. Very tranquil.

Dinner was served at 7pm and set a new high standard. Gazpacho soup, couscous with grilled vegetables and poached apples and pears for dessert. Incredible value for 10 euros.

Gazpacho #1
Gazpacho #2
Gazpacho #3

We went to bed not long after 8pm. H was asleep immediately and didn’t stir until 6am the next day. I was too hot, again, and it took me a good while to get to sleep. But no snorers….

Best albergue yet, I think.

Bits that hurt and some that don’t

Steve: well, we’re around 2/3 of the way, with 260km to go. If we haven’t got the hang of it now then we never will…

I’m quite pleased with how this 56 year old bag of bones of mine is hanging together. Apart from the perpetual blister-fest, which I consider to be a peely-wally Scotsman-in-the-sun thing as opposed to a Steve-specific thing, my body is holding up fine. My legs are like tree trunks and I haven’t had any muscle pain since the first few days. I’ve had no backpack problems. All is surprisingly well.

Some observations.

  • Make sure you read your Fitbit correctly. On day 2 or 3 I looked down to check my heart rate and it said 263. Hmm, I thought, and considered if my Will was up to date and wondered if the British Embassy would sort out returning my body. I stood still and waited for the resurrection morn. Then I realised I was actually looking at the step count. We’d only just left the albergue and I hadn’t done much that day. I tapped through to my heart rate which was a quite reasonable 85. I wonder if there have been any Fitbit related coronaries resulting from such misreading?
  • I don’t think it’s possible for Brits to actually buy appropriate shoes for this sort of heat. All my local outfitters are geared up for the swamp that is Scotland. Goretex in everything. What you need for this walk is a glorified sandal with lots of support in the right places and ventilation everywhere else. Water resistance is the least of your worries.
  • High tech underpants are unquestionably A Good Thing. The one drawback is that when not walking it would be nice to have something a bit less, how shall we put it?, structural. Pack a pair of knackered old y-fronts if you can. Your gentleman parts will be grateful.