I started my day in the San Miguel albergue the way I ended the last one, chatting and exchanging stories with the wonderful host Arturo. He told me how camino magic had brought him and his wife to that place, and stories of other camino workers, helpers, characters. In the end I had to leave though as it was looking like it would be a hot day again. I wanted to get as close to Astorga as I could before it got too bad, as there is no shade after Santibañez.
The pilgrim mannequin in the desert is still there, no doubt updated to showcase the very latest in camino chic. An FB friend pointed out that he is no longer wearing a mask, so things must be looking up!
Polly the Parasolly was up and out again in the baking heat as there was no shade. No doubt one of the best purchases so far (if also one of the oddest). The looks I get are mainly envious and I bet a lot of people will put ‘umbrella’ on their next packing list.
Apart from the mannequin, the person I was most hoping to meet on the way to Astorga was the now rather famous David, back from a long walk of his own. He started his Casa de los Dioses (House of the gods) project with practically nothing many years ago, sleeping under the stars and offering refreshments and sustenance – water, coffee, tea, juice, fruit, bread, boiled eggs – to passing pilgrims for a donation. Meaning, pay what you can, and if you can’t, take what you need. Donation money went towards refreshments for the next day and so on. Over the years this plot of hot dusty land has become a welcome oasis for the tired pilgrim, with several small structures to provide shade, a lovely flower bed in the open courtyard, hammocks in the shade etc. David himself took some time out from his Casa de los Dioses and pilgrims in general, but it was soo good to see him back again! If he gives up on us, what hope is there?
Not far from the Casa de los Dioses is the cross where you will see Astorga – especially the towers of the cathedral – for the first time. It’s still an hour or so to go but at least you can see it!
Oh look, the green pilgrim hamster wheel contraption in Astorga, no doubt twinned with the blue one leading into León. Great. However, a Belgian couple I met had found a nice local man who offered to show them a way around it, so they whooped and cheered while silly old me went the whole up and down and round and round. This man showed us the shortcuts into Astorga as well, and let me take his photo:
Muchas gracias, señor. And nice flowers, by the way. I hope she liked them.
I checked in to the fab Só por Hoje albergue, run by the lovely Patricia, a much needed alternative to the two main albergues and hotels. Só por Hoje has a small dorm with normal, not bunk, beds and has a brilliant shared chilling space. I went out for a meal and some people and Astorga watching, then went straight back to my albergue and chilled for the rest of the evening.