Monday, June 4, 2018 … 15 km … 10 miles … Sunny/Rain
Even after the long day and being on my feet all evening, which were killing me when I climbed into bed, I feel good. My toes still go numb at night but after waking they come back to life. Every morning as I put my socks on, I rub lotion on my feet and massage them. And remember, I praise them as I do this. Thanking them for holding up and keeping me going. Cale just laughs and shakes his head. My body is a little stiff upon waking, but again a little stretching and moving and I am good to go.
After walking for 22 days, our bodies and brains are in sync. They now understand what we are doing. I think on day three, they are wondering, “what are you doing to me?” And now, they understand.
We have a short day today only 10 miles, but we still decided to leave around our normal time. It would be nice to arrive in Astorga at a reasonable time. As we said goodbye to our host, she gave us the best homemade cookies ever. Nice little treat until we arrive at our café for breakfast.
The cookies were our only snack this morning, we all were hungry and looking for a café. Unfortunately, as we were leaving the town, nothing was open. But no worries, only 3 km away was a town with a café which had an amazing breakfast. Again, a normal stop along my other Caminos.
Hospital de Orbigo to Villares de Orbigo, 3 km
Once we left town, we entered beautiful farmland. Crops were all around us. The little country road weaved its way through the fields. The sun was rising and the air was crisp and cool. I was a little chilly this morning but it felt good. I think it might have been around 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
We made it to the café quickly, I think we were all so hungry. The café was full but again with all of our friends. But also, new faces. Pilgrims who started in Leon are the new faces we are seeing. We all are happy to see each other and ask the question, “how are you feeling today?” “where are you walking to today?” We talked as we waited in line to order and again as we ate. It was a wonderful breakfast; I think a got a little of everything.
One main breakfast staple which I have forgotten to tell you about is their orange juice. It’s not just your normal orange juice. It is freshly squeezed, the best orange juice you will ever drink orange juice. So fresh and so good!
Villares de Orbigo to La Casa de los Dioses
We were all feeling really good today. I think after the huge accomplishment of yesterday and today’s short walk, we all had a little skip in our step. Our next stop would be this amazing oasis. I have had the blessing to stop at this oasis before and I was looking forward to it again. But until then, we had to walk through farmland. Dirt paths right through the farm. So, watch your step!
A few hills, which were not easy but all was good. Remember today is officially our last day in the Meseta and we can see the hills are coming.
We were laughing, singing and having fun. Of course, then there would be some quiet time. Today I just kept thanking Jesus for all my gifts and graces. I was feeling so grateful for everything! So much joy I couldn’t stay quiet! Just wanting to sing with all my heart and share it with everyone.
As we topped a big hill and looked ahead there it was! The Oasis! Places to sit, fruit, snacks, peanut butter, teas, coffee, and so much more.
As we were relaxing, here came our friends. The Baby family and the Georges!
I took this opportunity and removed my shoes and relaxed for a little while.
When we all felt ready, we gathered our bags and started walking again. It was already 11:30. “Why are we walking so slow?” Just taking our time and enjoying ourselves. Maybe our bodies were tired from yesterday. Not sure, but we laughed about our slow pace. We were just having so much fun and didn’t really care about the time. We thought we would already be in Astorga by now, but we still had around 6 km ahead of us. Oh well, we have been having fun. We will still be there early in the day.
Oasis to Astorga, around 6 km
As we left the oasis, we were laughing so hard. Just having fun. The path was still dirt. It was a nice path. It looked like rain but it still was holding off. Still a little chilly. I would take my jacket off and then put it back on. So, this is when you wear your jacket backward. This way you don’t have to remove your backpack.
All of a sudden, Cale said, “why is that man up there with a shovel?” We saw an older man standing on the side of the road with a shovel. We couldn’t figure out what he was doing. He was in the middle of nowhere. We just kept making jokes and kept walking.
As we approached the gentleman, we all said hi. He then asked if we could help him. We all stopped and said, sure. It was weird, we all answered yes without thinking about it.
He asked us to help him move a rock. This was the area he liked to walk in and there was no place to sit. He saw the rock and thought he could prop it up so it would be a little bench. The rock was big and he needed help.
The guys started to help him, they dug a little more dirt away and then moved the rock. As they were doing this, I thought there is no way that rock will balance like that.
They kept digging, placing little rocks around the base, and maneuvering the big rock. Then it balanced!
As we were leaving, the gentleman gathered us in a circle to thank us. He proceeded to ask us questions, our names? where we were from? Where did we start the Camino? And so on. His eyes were drawing me in and joy was radiating from this man. I was glued to every word he said.
This was an amazing encounter. He then asked if we believed. We all said, yes. He told us that he was a Catholic priest, Padre Jose but everyone calls him Padre Pepe. He shared his love of God and shared his joy. Then he looked at each of us and gave us a little message. At this point, I knew he was a messenger. This was an encounter from God!
I can’t explain the feeling of being near him. I was crying tears of joy. When he gave me my message, I couldn’t believe it! Thank you, Jesus! (see my journal below to see the message, you won’t believe it)
He then blessed us and sent us on our way.
As we walked away, I snapped a picture of him sitting on the rock. And these words kept coming into my heart.
“He sat upon a rock. He moved a rock. Upon a rock, you will build my church”
Ok, so now we were all floating. I kept repeating the words in my head so I wouldn’t forget them and I could write them in my journal. Each message was for each of us, it was beautiful. We were all touched by this messenger. Thank you, Jesus.
Finishing the day
We all were a little stunned, we knew we encountered an angel. Just then one of the Georges was passing us. I asked him, “did you see the gentleman sitting on the rock back there?” He said, “what man?” I didn’t see anyone.
Wait, what? There was no way to miss him.
The rain started to fall, just off and on. The final kilometers were done quietly. I know I was still in awe of what happened, not sure of the others.
We crossed the green monster, the bridge over the train tracks, it winds you up and over and just doesn’t make sense at the end of the day. So much extra walking. We were just ready to get to the Hostel.
We made our way to the edge of town and started the steep climb, very steep climb into Astorga. Astorga is a beautiful medieval walled town set atop a steep ridge. There will be a lot of those along the road to Santiago, the town upon a hill. Let’s just say my feet were ready to stop.
We made our way to the hostel in the rain. It was coming down pretty hard now and it was chilly. Time to check-in and get a warm shower.
Hostel: Albergue San Javier, 95 beds, 10 euros
This hostel was on the other side of town near the Cathedral. Nice hostel with a sitting room and kitchen. As we walked into our bunk room, I grabbed a blanket immediately. It was cold and I knew I would need this tonight. Our luck, we were walking the Camino and a rare cold front was following us the entire way. It usually wasn’t this cold at this time of year.
We arrived around 1:15. We had plenty of time to rest and shower. And plenty of time to go and explore. Now we just need the rain to stop. Lunch, the grocery store, and chocolate were calling us. Astorga is known for its chocolate.
I love these town plazas in all these Spanish towns. Astorga has a great one. I love enjoying some tapas and vino and watching all the locals come to the Plaza. These plazas are a social hub, full of conversations, music, and laughter.
I shared with everyone, if the rain stops, I would like to go and sit in Plaza Mayor and have some tapas. They all agreed that would be fun. The clock in the plaza is really cool and unique
On the façade of the building, we find several decorative architectural elements, highlighting in the central top, both the royal coat of arms and the clockwork master watchmaker Bernardo Franco, on the sides of the clock are the maragatos Juan Zancuda and Colasa, since 1748 these automatons figures dressed in the typical regional dress that at each hour sharp move telling time by making the clock bell sound with a mallet. Source: https://turismoastorga.es/town-hall/
The rain did stop and we were able to enjoy some time for shopping and tapas before dinner at the hostel.
Monday, June 4th, Hospital de Orbigo to Astorga … 15 km … 10 miles
Sun and rain, 50’s, little chilly.
Today was a short day but it still took us 6 hours to walk it because we took our time and enjoyed every minute of it. This was one of my favorite days along the Camino. We had an encounter today. God sent a messenger. Padre Pepe (Jose). We helped him move a rock to sit on. He spoke to us and shared his joy and love. He ended up being a Catholic priest. So amazing, he blessed us. It was beautiful.
Padre Pepe gave me this message:
He looked right at me and said,
“Open your heart, trust again and be happy. The Our Father prayer was given to us so we can truly understand how much Our Father loves us. You are an example of this love, open your mind and heart. Love.”
Tears were flowing. Wow! Everything that has been on my heart, this messenger was such a gift. I hear you Lord and I will never close my heart again. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! I love you Jesus!
Have you had a similar experience? What are you grateful for today?