My feet are killing me today. I am battling large blisters, draining them with a needle every night and putting blister pads on them.
Today is my day! In spite of my feet, I am joyous. At 10 am there are church bells in the distance. “Good speed is your speed.” is painted on a sign, surely an encouragement to pilgrims.
This morning I dwaddled over my tea in the kitchen, as it was still dark. Wilson quickly ate his breakfast, was ready to go and asked for my email address so we can stay in touch. He was thinking would not see me again. He left.
I took my, but it was pretty dark at 7:30 am, so I took the alternate and more direct trail along the road instead of wending through the woods.
Gorgeous sunrise over the rolling green countryside.
Passed a huge barn guarded by three barking black labradors while at least three German Shepards lazed in the sun. I was not even close to the barn, but the labradors were doing a great job this early.
By 9:30 am I stopped for coffee with milk and sugar at a small village. Visited with two German women doing parts of the El Camino a second time. Who should come in but my Brazlian friend, Wilson. He stared at me and said TYLER, HOW did you get here? After a few minutes he figured out I did not use the magic carpet as claimed, but took the shorter route along the highway. We laughed and laughed. Then I finished my coffee and left, somehow without seeing him or saying goodbye. Must have both been in the restroom.
Two hours later I am perched at top the steps to a cross over looking the valley and city of Astorga. Airing my barefeet in the sunshine, enjoying the view when here come the two German women from the cafe. They laugh as Wilson had seen them on the trail and asked where I was. They told him she is up ahead, sticking out her tongue at you and saying nana-nana-boo-boo.
And who comes down the trail but Wilson, calling out Tyler, WHAT are you doing? WHY are you still ahead of me. We laugh again. He goes on and I pull on my boots and head down into Astorga.
This is a beautiful medieval town once surrounded by a wall, which has a walk way and I stop for a snack, overlooking the country. Walk down cobblestone streets to a palace and the cathedral. Large bus loads of tourists gather with guides. In the cafe overlooking the palace, I use the restroom and order meatballs for lunch. What a beautiful town but I am not a tourist and my feet ache and I am not up for looking inside the buildings, so I pick up a chocolate bar with almonds for the road.
Just outside of town there is a tiny chapel where pilgrims have stopped, some to avoid the tourists at the cathedral, for a rest or holy moment. Who is there but Wilson. We laugh at meeting each other again and walk and talk for about an hour.
Stopping at a hacienda-type hostel, we go in for a soda, I got a Coke, and visit. It is run by a Brazilian, they serve a Brazilian dinner and it is super clean and charming with a yard in the back for hanging laundry, a washboard as part of the sink and great big clean showers are restrooms. The dormitory is also huge. I stay and Wilson goes on. He refuses to say goodbye as he is sure we will meet again.
A French Pilgrim visits with me about my sore feet. He recommends boots two sizes larger and wiping out the salt sweat from the boots immediately after removing them. In two days I will pass through a town large enough to have boots. It’s the first I have heard about wiping out boots, but it might be a good idea.
Dinner was lentils, rice and deviled eggs and no dessert. It was very plain with no spices. Wilson later told me this is very authentic Brazilian cooking. It was good and filling. Dined with a young Spanish married couple bicycling the route. He had good English and said it is not fun. They cycled 75 kilometers today and did 150 yesterday. Some roads are busy with traffic, off the walker’s route. Some are cobblestone they share with us walkers and I can see their head bobbing as they tackle the stones. He says it is crazy. It is cold when they go out in the morning, and they are not allowed into the hostels until 8 pm, giving all those walking first chance to get a bed. Plus bicyclists do not always give walkers warning on the trails and we have to get out of their way quickly as they speed by us. I was smugly satisfied to hear it was as miserable as it looked.