Day 24 - Astorga to Foncebadon
Trip Start Sep 03, 2012
36Trip End Oct 07, 2012
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Kms walked in total: 551 kms
Kms left to Santiago: 238 kms (although sign in bar said 230kms and was sponsored by Mahou - very trustworthy)
Pains: leg started badly but the pain disappeared with the rain, cold and uphill. I have a feeling my legs were just absolutely bored with the Meseta.
After waking up the Swiss wild boar I went down to the albergue breakfast. Terrible coffee and uninspiring toast, but the chat with the Bolivian hospitalera made up for it as she was very chirpy.
She is a Bolivian aborigine and could speak Quechua. I showed he all my Decathlon "Quechua" branded clothes and she confirmed she had seen it before
Some French people asked whether there was any juice, and laughing she she took a jug of water and said "yes, white lemon juice".
A bit of an uphill climb today to Foncebadon. Most people will stop at Rabanal which is 5 kilometres less, but I want to be close to the highest peak of all the Camino in order to get it down early the next day.
Nothing too exciting during the walk today, although it is starting to look slightly greener than the Meseta days.
Most of the villages we past are quite small, or basically just a street with five to ten houses at each side. Most of them survive essentially from the tourists, with a good example being Rabanal del Camino.
I was taking a photograph of the main street and the "calle del medio" (middle street) when I heard the conversation between two locals in the corner shop. They had a heavy rural accent but the man was telling his wife "we could go back to Nuremberg or Munchen again". The pronunciation of both cities was in perfect German - unexpected
Just as I past Rabanal it started raining with strength, and for some reason it felt fantastic. Perhaps I'm more of a cold climate walker than a Meseta dehydration buff.
The incredible thing was that with the rain and the uphill, the pain of my left leg nearly disappeared. It was there but it seemed to have slightly dissolved. I'm certain that my legs just love the uphill, and all the previous days they simply went on strike to complain about the boredom of the Meseta (no ups or downs, no rocks to climb on).
I was happy though went I reached the albergue as the wind was getting stronger and small rivers and puddles were forming along the path. The surface was still relatively hard as it had been very dry for weeks, but it was getting slightly soggy.
I expected a bit more from the village of Foncebadon, but its only five houses of which four are albergues. The street is just mud and there is only a bar to kill some time off. I think the brand "Foncebadon" is used by a mineral water company and perhaps that's why it sounded so familiar.
Its was quite relaxing though, and the albergue I had booked is probably the best one up to now
They have a log fire in the lounge, and music playing all afternoon. As it got colder the lounge became the focal point of the night.
Most of us had dinner in the albergue (paella, embutidos, salad and ice cream, wine, etc for 9 euros). As usual I sat and there was a mixed bunch I had never met before:
- two youngsters from the Czech Republic
- a stuttering Dutchman who spit a piece of paella rice with every "t" he pronounced
- a Spaniard from San Sebastian who had just started at Astorga having done the previous sections in two other weeks before
- an old Irish guy from Cork who was cylcing to Santiago. He taught us how to detect a guy from Cork: "Ask him to say to 33 and one third. It will sound as "tirty tree wit one turd"".
After dinner I had to wait for a while to be able to conquer a seat next to the fireplace as the Frenchies were just not moving
Apart from the guy from San Sebastian, everyone else was non-Spanish. The usual lot: French, Dutch, German, English and non-Ohio Americans. It was a funny mix of languages, not helped by a loud English teenager who was literally legless on the wine he had been drinking since lunch time.
As the night came to an end, I was chatting with an English pensioner from Cornwall and a French girl who lives in England. I had seen her before with a bunch of Irish drunkards when she mentioned she lived in England because she hated the French.
She had been unlucky that day as she either lost or was involuntarily parted from her iphone at Rabanal while she had a rest. She was devastated as all her photographs and notes she had been taking were in it. She said she was going to write a book about the Camino and compare each day to something in life!
The Camino pushes people to write books that's for sure, but sadly not many make it and the only one I keep seeing is the guide I'm carrying. The author is greatly responsible for the masses of English speaking peoples collapsing the Camino. Shame on you John B! Shame on you..