Before I jump ahead to walking to Astorga I will first wrap up last nights evening at Tio Pepe. Dinner is available at 7:00 and I’m there just sitting on the patio, the one with the pinball machine having a glass of wine. There are two women sitting next to me who I have not seen before and they are clearly Americans. They live in White Plains, New York and are walking just six days to a village short of Astorga and then will make their way to Santiago by train and then on to Madrid to fly home. This trip is their fourth as they attack the Camino in pieces. Not uncommon.
I’m trying to decide what to eat but before that LILO comes to see me and gives me a big hug. She does not speak English so she brings the young girl with her to interpret. LILO says she remembers me, which is a surprise. I did leave a little something for her after she nursed me back onto the Camino. We took a selfie which I’m sending. That was nice. I order the ensalada mixta … shocking I know. I was about to call it an early night when Candy, Don and the young Italian, Mathias arrive and will join me. They will eat and I will just stay for a glass of wine.
I did not know this about Mathias but the Camino we are all on now will be his third this year! Yes, this year. He speaks several languages and is twenty six years old. A very nice young guy. Lives at home in a very small village in northern Italy with his Mother when he’s not walking the Camino. Works odd jobs in the winter, saves his money to pay for his Camino habit. I’m not sure what he’s trying to find on the Camino but it’s taking him longer than expected.
We are wrapping up dinner and the patio is nearly empty, save one young guy sitting alone with his back to the rest of the patio just drinking and staring at the wall. Candy calls out to him to join us. I’ve met him once before. He’s 20 years old and walking with his father. They live in Maryland. He moves a bit closer to us but does not really join us. He is painfully shy and he’s had too much to drink. Seems like a nice kid but he’s just lost and tells us he suffers from depression and is trying to figure it out. I’m not sure that the medication he’s taking was meant to be taken with Jack Daniels or the chain smoking. He staggered off to bed. Hopefully he will be fine.
The room was just like most of the others in the small villages, small and hot. My window was designed to only be opened at the bottom where it could be pushed out only about three inches … A completely senseless idea. Not enough room to create air flow but just enough to guarantee that you would hear every bell and whistle from the pinball machine.
I’m up early today … day 23. Astorga is a long day and it’s warm but not hot. That’s a relief. I leave at 8:30 and pace myself for the long day. As it turns out today’s walk is 18.7 miles. That’s a long day. Neither the length of the day or the temperature is today’s real challenge. That comes from the gnats! At one point, for nearly an hour and a half I am swarmed by them and they are relentless. I walk all that time holding both poles in my left hand while using my right to hold my hat hitting myself with it as a fly swatter. By far the most uncomfortable part of the Camino thus far. It was so bad that I did not stop for water although I really needed to because then the swarm would have a stationary target. The swarm also slowed my pace. I left Tio Pepe at 8:30 and arrived at my hotel in Astorga at 5:30. I walked with Candy, Don and Mathias for about three miles. We stopped and I had a Coke Zero while they opted for food so I moved along. They are walking six miles fewer than me today staying at an Albergue outside of Astorga. I will see them in a couple of days.
Tomorrow is a big day, I’ve been looking forward to since my arrival. I will walk to Rabinal del Camino where I will meet up with Pat Mcfadden! Pat now lives in Porto Portugal and is going to drive some 250 miles to meet me and then we will drive back to Astorga to meet Rainer from my first Camino. The three of us will have dinner at my favorite restaurant, Serrano. After dinner Pat and I will drive back to Rabinal stay the night and on Tuesday morning I will get back on the Camino. Pat will drive back to Porto but will return on Sunday where he will join me in walking the final five days into Santiago. A great way for me to end my third Camino. By the way Rainer has walked three Caminos and Pat has walked two.
Okay, so I’m sitting in bed writing this and decide to go downstairs to get a glass of wine and return to my room to complete today’s blog and who walks into the bar? Rainer. He’s here a day early. He lives in Frankfurt but also has a home in Spain so he came a day early. We grab a glass of wine and start catching up. What a great surprise. We finish the wine and I have to get to bed after such a long day and of course we will meet for dinner at Serrano tomorrow night. Rainer knows that today was a long day and encourages me to get some rest .. tomorrow we can spend more time together.
A couple of house keeping notes. First, I went back through my daily miles totals because the numbers were not adding up to the number of miles actually walked. I found the error and have corrected it. The actual miles to date are 331.4. Long story I made the same error several times but it’s now where it should be.
Tomorrow’s blog may not be posted at the end of tomorrow but will likely be posted on Tuesday. I will be busy having dinner with two great friends.
Good night, Buen Camino.
Miles today: 18.7
Miles to date: 350.4
Steps today: 47,650
Steps to date: 804,767
Flights to date: 626
Total donations to date: $34,500.40