El Camino: Day #21

Day #21 El Camino

Tuesday 3rd October

Astorga > Foncebadon

Distance walked 26km

Made the mistake of going to bed last night without preparing my sleeping quarters the night before. No idea what time it was that the snoring started but I tried to ignore it. I couldn’t. It was coming from all angles. Men and women. Mostly Germans. I usually place my head-torch tucked under my pillow as well as a little airline bag that has earplugs and an eye-mask upon arrival, so that I can access them easily when the night comes and the lights are switched off by some do-gooder at the god-awfully early time of 9pm. In my desperate search for anything to fill my ears I managed to find one lone earplug, for all I know it was someone else’s left behind, but I’m pretty sure it was mine. I shoved this is one ear and slept on the other, wrapping a scarf around my head tightly, covering my ears and eyes to block out any sound or light. It did the trick but lesson learnt.

The scenery is getting better now that we’re leaving the bigger cities and heading into the mountains. Today was relatively easy and uphill at times. The target destination of Foncebadon was recommended to me for both the accommodation and a restaurant. I usually just turn up and see what I find or see where my legs get me for the day, but today I wanted to get to a certain place and secure a bed in a certain Albergue so there was somewhat a mission in mind. If it wasn’t available, no worries. I’ve got to learn to keep my mouth shut however when I get a “hot tip”, as I’ve realised that if I tell too many people the best place to stay and they get there before me, there’s a chance there’ll not be enough beds for everyone. It hasn’t been the case yet, but in the back of my mind I know one of these days it might occur. This is supposed to be a pleasant journey, yet there’s definitely a sense of eagerness and competition for a bed when the sun is burning down and people’s patience grows thin at the end of a long day walking. Sure, people help each other out when injured or give you directions, but I wouldn’t be surprised if I saw a scuffle over a bed racing for check-in!

I arrived to find I had plenty of choice for a bed and took advantage of what the recommended perks were. A hammock in the garden and an ice bath with salts for my feet. My left shin was especially getting sore and soaking it for half an hour was good. It was an early day finished walking and I soon retired to a hammock, where I stupidly fell asleep reading and subsequently got burnt. The only thing disturbing my nap was an Australian man who was excited to share his Camino via Skype on his phone to anyone back home and at the same time to everyone within his vicinity. I’m not sure what it is with people over the age of 50 who think we all need or want to hear their conversations over the phone. Invest in some headphones drongos!

His conversation was unavoidable. He seemed a bit tipsy but on the brink of emotional. A classic Australian male who was keeping his emotions bottled up then letting it all out after some beers. It did provide me with some mild entertainment however when he reeled off some ripper lines to his pals on the other end of the line that “I reckon John Lennon must’ve done the camino, ‘cause you listen to those lyrics of Imagine and its all about this” He went on to give examples but could only think of the one line, “you know… imagine… all the people, with no religion, and all that”. Beautiful.

He was suggesting that while all that shit is going on in the world (Vegas shooting, terrorism etc) it doesn’t effect anyone here, its just so peaceful and everyone is getting along no matter what language they speak. He said “I walked with a Japanese guy for an hour and a half and we got along great and I couldn’t understand a word he said, my Japanese stops at Sushi!” Brilliant. “I couldn’t pronounce his name so I christened him Matty”. Priceless. Stop, please, this is too funny. Then he mentioned how he went into a church and “did I mention the priest was black?” There was silence at the other end of the line. Even his friends didn’t know how to respond to that one. My notepad was getting full. But my stomach wasn’t yet, so I had to leave this scenario and head to dinner. The second recommendation of this town was a medieval themed restaurant. I assumed it was so popular it’d be packed. I took a couple of others there and we were the only 3 dining after 2 guys walked out. It was a beautiful place, decked out well and the combination of pumpkin soup, beer and the world’s biggest hamburger I’ve ever eaten topped the day off nicely. I was so full I could barely climb the gravel path back to the Albergue and crawl into bed.

¡Buen Camino!

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