Open your eyes
… said an old Spanish senor as I was packing up to leave after enjoying a cafe con leche y tortilla just outside Astorga. This was his final salutation after a brief exchange of pleasantries about where I come from and where I started the camino. Perhaps this is some local idiom (open your eyes) or some local idiot but either way I decided to take him at his word and adopt this simple philosophy for the rest of this Camino. Considering I got three hours sleep last night, keeping my eyes open at all is proving difficult.
Mentally this has been among the toughest first days I’ve had on camino simply due to lack of sleep. I arrived in Leon bleary eyed at around 4.40am having had one of the worst nights sleep it’s possible to have outside of a tumble dryer. The ‘bed’ on the Renfe sleeper train from Barcelona has straps to hold you in place for a reason! I spent the night being shunted from side to side with the only respite the brief interlude at the stations while the train was stationary. This allowed for only 3 hours sleep before my 22k hike to Murias.
Since writing my previous post I discovered there was another virtue between ‘trust’ and ‘patience’, that being ‘wisdom’! I decided to hop a cab and got into Hospital de Orbigo at 5.30am thus giving me the chance to arrives at Murias before the worst of the midday sun. I’m still burnt though! It’s hot here – 30 degree hot.
My walk started at dawn and I was amazed at how little I remember of the route. I was sure there was a big incline on the way up to David’s hippie hut but no such incline arrived. Instead I was treated to scenes from Snow White with deer and rabbits bounding along the way from Santibanez to David’s vegan shack.
I arrived into Murias around 12 caked in sweat and absolutely exhausted. Even the locals were taking pity on my bedraggled appearance, pumping red face and sweat soaked clothes shouting across the road ‘mucho calor’ in sympathy – while they looked fresh as daisies. Good old locals!
This is a fairly simple and serene section of the Camino with few inclines and challenges but the 6 hours sleep gained over the last 60 had taken its toll. I fell into the Albergue Las Aguedas (which is fabulous btw – veggie with all mod cons), ordered up a beer, showered and washed my clothes immediately and headed out to the village cafe for a bocadillo.
At 2pm I went for a lie down and didn’t reappear until 6pm, I have a horrible feeling I’ve been snoring, talking and dribbling for the last 4 hours as no one is meeting my eye! Or maybe I’ve got that ‘Camino novice’ look, or perhaps it’s the sunburn.
I am aiming to get back down to my fighting weight and lose 6lbs in the next 15 days so I gave the bread from my bocadillo to the birds and feasted on the ham and tomato paste inside! Tonight’s meal at this veggie Albergue was delicious including gazpacho, veggie paella and some mystery dessert that contained creme, vanilla essence and meringue – not so good for the waistline but it would have been rude to refuse it! I read today that you burn 5000-6000 calories a day backpacking for 8 hours with 10kg on your back. I don’t know if it’s true but it made the creamy, meringuey pie that little less guilt inducing!
It’s a tiny slice of paradise at the Albergue Las Aguedas – I’m 1 for 1 on communal meals and hoping to get as many in as I can. Tonight I met another couple of Camino old hands, a couple from Toronto who are walking a second time and a lady who has been walking for three months from St Puy de Velay (well jell).
I imagine that tomorrow my mood will be massively improved – I intend on sleeping a good and long 8-10 hours tonight and attempting to reach Foncebadon around midday again.
Foncebadon is one of those Camino towns that holds much mystique on the Camino and I was sad to miss it the last time! That will make for a slightly longer km day tomorrow but not by much!
There’s rain ahead! Bugger! I hope it can hold off until I arrive at Ponferadda as I do not fancy the mountain path over wet stones. My challenge over the next 3 days is to get as close to OCebreiro as I can. Here we find the Camino’s steepest incline – I’m unfit, fresh out the gate and walking up that hill in the mid day sun will be uncomfortable indeed – it may be my final undoing! Getting ahead after O Cebreiro and maybe walking from there to Samos will make or break this tight itinerary!
Doggies! And one strangely veiny foot! God I’m old.