HASTA LUEGO ASTORGA

Astorga, forever marred by the dreadful news of the murder of that poor American lady.

The terrible coincidence of me being in that town at the time they found her body will remain as one of the not so nice memories of this journey that sometimes I may omit in the relating.

It has to be said though, people are talking all the time about the safety of the peregrinos. I remember talking to a lady from America, I think it was Texas, who said a policeman friend of hers advised her to bring a tazer with her as she was travelling alone. I believe the Americans were all aware of the story of the missing lady and this may have been why he was giving her such drastic advice.

It’s odd to think that there are such people who could take advantage of someone on a pilgrimage, whether religious or spiritual.

As I left Astorga by bus I tried to get back into the mood. I found that trying to work out the small screen display in front of me took up a lot of time. The caballero beside me was watching The Big Bang Theory, obviously in Spanish and I found it on my display.

You’d think in this day and age there would be a better way to do this. I understand translations have to be done using people from the country the programme is being shown in but really, Sheldon Cooper with a voice like Barry White? You’re the first, you’re the last, Bazinga.

By the time I had worked out that I couldn’t get English subtitles we were almost halfway to Ponferrada. I put on my daughter Caitlin’s little set from Garry’s Barber Shop and listened to a proper accent, my accent – if a little sweeter.

Must say I had a little bit of a tear in my eye listening to her beautiful voice. I drifted into a little sleep with her lyrics whispering in my earphones.

Ponferrada came up earlier than I expected – got the mileage wrong again. Kilometres, miles. Spent the last few minutes dividing things by eight and multiplying by five. Did you know that the Proclaimers would walk 800 kilometres. Doesn’t quite scan though does it.

Ponferrada estación de autobus is as dull as most other bus stations in the world I’m sure. Didn’t even go inside. Jumped into a taxi and on to my hotel for the night.

Had decided to take one of those rest days again. It’s a luxury to have a bathroom you know. It’s very emotional when you arrive and see the bathroom IN the same room. Bidet!!! Feet can be soaked while supping C&L – another tear begins. Sorry Caitlin, I cry at anything now apparently. Bloody Camino!

Feet soaking in hot water with a few drops of Tea Tree oil – AMs idea. She says it disinfects. Who am I to argue. I know that I could actually smell something else other than myself.

It’s odd you know. You’d think that after a long sweaty walk you’d love a good shower. It doesn’t seem to work like that for me.

First I get my C&L, then I lie speadeagle on the bed – even if it’s only a single bed. I must confess I like a good scratch. I have found myself scratching to near ecstasy, you know like when you see a dog scratch behind his ear to the point it looks like he’s going to tear it off.

Scratching finished, some blogging done. Take advantage of the Wi-Fi – that’s another thing, just watch peregrinos put up with everything else but don’t take away our Wi-Fi, it’s like the second most important thing in the place you are staying next to the quantity of loo roll. Damn, there’s only three sheets left and there’s nowhere for another 5 km.

Settle down for an early night, not moving on tomorrow so alarm set for a bit later – 8:00.

When the alarm goes off I need to see the world again. Open the window and as I breath in the fresh Spanish morning I hear “Oh, I just wanna finish my jam, I love jam”, coming from beneath a tree below my window.

This was the voice of a peregrino who has been out in the sun too long the day before and had stolen all the little cartons of jam from the albergue she was staying at.

I listen for a while from my first floor window. I can’t see who it is yet but I know they’re sheltering from the early morning rain beneath a tree just below me, sounds like two of them. And they’re Irish.

After a bit I decided to shout down to them. “Is that an Irish accent I hear down there?”

“Jesus, Mary and Joseph”, came the reply -“Irish indeed”, says I. Sorry started to sound like Michaeleen O’Flynn there for a second.

“No”, I said, “it’s just me up here on the first floor”.

“We can’t see you”, says one. “Come out from under that tree with your jammy hands” I shouted.

“How much were you listening to”, said one. “Enough”, I said.

“Move from under the tree towards the road, I’m up above you”, I said.

When they came out they were like two kids who had been caught doing something really naughty, all sheepish. Turns out they were from Enniskillen – that great jamless town in the west.

I wished them Buen Camino and they set off on their hunt for Jam Nirvana, or as its otherwise known Santiago de Compotela – did you see what I did there. True story.

As it was Sunday and I wasn’t for walking I decided to sit downstairs in the café, have I bite to eat and watch the MotoGP. What were you thinking Vale?

After that I put my coat on and ordered a taxi to the centre of town. Taxi came, charged me 11 Euro for the privilege if you don’t mind – it was 6 out. I queried it and he said because he had to come out to the hotel to pick me up the cost was more. Frantically looked for the word “Bollocks” on Google translate. “Cojones” is what it comes back with but that wasn’t quite the meaning I meant.

I had asked him to take me to the centre of the city, but again something must have got lost in translation. Dumped me at the first roundabout he came to. If you think that was dead, you should have seen the rest of the place.

After waking around in this ghost town for a while. Standing in the Plaza Major totally alone I sought out my two friends C&L. They never let me down. Found a great café, had a menú del dia for 10 Euro with a bottle of wine. Food was great. Weather was a bit chilly but I sat outside and updated my blog.

Finished around 8:00 and headed back to hotel to prepare for the next day.

Buenas noches mis amigos.

About CJ

Setting out 1st September to walk El Camino. I am walking the French Way and starting at Logroño. My wonderful wife is joining me at Sarria to finish the walk with me.
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