Friday, 8 January 2016

Camino Frances Day 2

I woke up around 5 am on Day 2, which is rather early for my daily routine. Maybe I was too excited to continue my walk. I did not take a shower anymore since I had one already the night before. Ever since I moved to Europe I have gotten used to taking showers in the evening instead of morning.

I peered outside and figured it was still too dark to start the walk so I hung around a bit. I took a photo of the albergue for posterity sake.

For only 5 euros a night I think this place was definitely a steal. The place also offered an 8-euro two-course meal of salad, chicken, pasta, yogurt and fruit. Not bad for a pilgrim's menu. Although given a small tummy I had to spend 2 hours just to finish everything.

Normally albergues offer a room full of double deck beds but for this one I got booked in a room that only had 4 beds and I only had one roommate.

My roommate Christian is Danish. He just finished his schooling in Barcelona and thought of doing the camino to clear his mind. I envied him because at a rather young age he got to be exposed to the world of the camino. I asked him to pose with the UP Ikon sign. I could have asked for his Facebook account so we could keep in touch after the Camino but for some reason I didn't. I guess it's just one of those random things I do.

I was thinking about math -specifically Geometry-while I took this photo. Two lines intersect at a point in a plane and will never meet again. So much like my life and Christian's life.

He had blisters on his feet so he will trek at a much slower rate. I doubt if I will ever see him in the camino again. Or perhaps ever. That somehow made me sad in a way.

I continued my walk at 8 in the morning. This sign was a reminder that I still had almost 300 km to travel.

I stopped by this fountain to get my water supply. One can normally find water source every 4 kilometres or so in the camino route except in some less populated areas.

I took a selfie for Day 2 to send to my friends who were my companions in Camino Portugues. I was doing this camino alone although I was planning to meet my friend Robbie from Austria along the way. He was my first ever Couchsurfing (CS) host.

Funny. We never meant to meet in the Camino but he saw my query in a CS forum and it just so happened that he was planning to do the Camino around the same period. He started his walk in St. Jean Pied de Port in France which was roughly 20 days earlier. Around this time he would have passed Leon also. I was planning to catch up with him at the end of this day.

I also sent this photo to my Cuban friend in Gran Canaria to make him envious. We planned before to do the Camino together but it never pushed through. He replied back "Te odio =P".

Still another selfie along the highway. My hair was a mess because I did not bring any gel. I had to make my load as light as possible, remember?

For paths like these, the route was just straight ahead. And it can be pretty lonely, only the occasional ten-wheeler trucks and cars whirring by, would keep you company.

I took a stop in this bar to have my breakfast and have my pilgrim passport stamped.  I recall going to the toilet and I was so glad I brought wipes with me because the wash room lacked toilet paper.

Take note, if you are doing the Camino, always bring wet wipes with you because you'll never know when you've got to go. And when you do, it's better to be armed with a handful of wipes.

My typical breakfast order was a bocadillo de jamon and cafe con leche. I recall seeing a caucasian guy with a terrible case of hangover. I was not sure if he was able to finish the Camino because I never saw him again.

Hung on the wall of the bar is a poster of the route with illustrations of the interesting structures to be seen along the way. In hindsight I should have paid more attention to them. But at that time they all just seemed to be random names except of course for Santiago de Compostela.

The sun was getting harsher at this point so I paused to apply sun block generously on my face. I was not planning to bring sunblock but it was given to me by my roommate in the hostel. He had just finished his Camino and was so excited to learn that I was doing one. To repay his generosity I gave him one of my ethnic necklaces. He was so ecstatic to receive it.

I can't but laugh reading this graffiti.

"Wanna know a secret ? I replaced lukewarm water with Sangria. "

A smart-ass pilgrim scribbled below it " Well that explains the vomit along the camino".

Haha. Pilgrim sense of humour.

I took another shot of my backpack and the UP Ikot sign beside a Camino landmark.

Pilgrim philosophy. Ah pilgrims never cease to amaze me.

"When you throw a stone into the sea, you never know how deep it goes."

I honestly don't know what it meant. Sounded like a new-age mumbo jumbo but deep nonetheless.

This landmark had lots of stones and flyers of albergues along the way. I don't know why travellers pile stones along the way. Maybe a tribute ? Perhaps a marker so that others would not be led astray?

I took a calling card and left a note for Robbie hoping that he'll get to read it when he passed by the same spot. I hoped to meet him in Astorga which was my intended stop for the day.

A few meters before Puente de Obrigo , about 11 kilometres from my starting point for Day 2, I took this shot but I guess I failed my objective. I actually liked the tree formation in the background but the photo did not give justice to it. I once again had to remind myself that using a camera phone had its limitations.

Ah.. Puente de Obrigo. It is one of the picturesque stops I would say.

A tractor, a wheel barrow and some corn in a warehouse in this rustic town.

Occasionally a pilgrim will be faced with a decision. A fork in the road. Not life threatening of course but a decision nonetheless. Would you choose a shorter and straightforward route ? Or a longer but more scenic one?

As it was my second day I still was packed with energy so I took the left route. It brought me right into these fields. For quite some time I haven't seen any yellow sign. I was actually contemplating on retracing my steps at this point.

After walking for 20 minutes I finally saw this sign, an indication that indeed I had taken the right path. I heaved a sigh of relief.

The map of Villares De Obrigo showed that it was pretty much a sleepy town without an albergue or a supermarket.

I made a slight detour and passed by the church. I wanted to go inside and pray and perhaps take a photo of the altar piece as I always do whenever I visit a church but there was a funeral service going on.

I don't know who the guy was, how he lived his life or if he had ever done the Camino. I offered a quick prayer for the repose of his soul nonetheless. It got me into thinking that we might all strangers but we all share a common destiny, that we are all but pilgrims in this world and that there will come a time that we will leave this world behind.

This picnic table was conveniently located in the woods just off Villares de Obrigo. There wasn't any toilet available but I peed nonetheless because I could not hold it any longer.

New roads were being developed along this path. The place was much more scenic than how the camera captured it.

I can't help but smile when I looked at this church. I took a photo of this and missed the arrow sign leading left. Good thing an old man called my attention and told me that I was heading to the wrong direction. Another pilgrim who was tracing my steps almost missed her turn as well.

After taking the right turn the route led us to a muddy field. It was much more difficult to negotiate with the ground that seemed to be so clingy.  Further on I hit upon this cross with lots of stones, obviously left by the pilgrims.

There was a makeshift statue adorned with trinkets brought by pilgrims. A jacket here, a bandana there, a beanie, a flag, worn out shoes among others. I felt the need to leave something. So I did. It was a baggage tag with my name on it.

I saw two pilgrims taking a rest on bench beside a tree, a man and a woman.

"So where did you guys start your Camino?" I asked them.
"St Jean." the blond girl replied
"Wow" I exclaimed.
"How about you?"
"Leon. This is my 2nd day"
"No wonder you look different."
I was bit puzzled. "Different? In what sense?"
"Well, you look....civilized"

Civilized. A rather strange word. Perhaps what they meant was that I still didn't have that wornout look.

I continued on. I couldn't find a single soul around me. My mind was operating like a mathematician at this point. If the farthest distance my eyes could reach around me was 1 km. I could say that there was no other soul within 3.14 km2. For some reason my thoughts were on the series "The Walking Dead". I think I am morbid because I tend to associate landscapes with horror movies or series. I remember thinking that it if I were a director of the Walking Dead this would be a good set.

I spotted this stand further on. It offered relief to pilgrims as it gave food in exchange for a donation. It was drizzling again so I took shelter.

My phone battery was getting empty at this point but I managed to get this shot of the cross with a view of Astorga below.

My phone battery finally gave out at this point. Good thing there was a French pilgrim behind me who took my photo and offered to send it via email.

I finally arrived in the albergue in Astorga and got to charge my phone. As fate would have it, Robbie checked in the same albergue and we were even booked in the same room. It was great to meet Robbie again after 3 years.

We decided to cook dinner for the two of us and split the cost. We went to the supermarket to buy the ingredients. Along the way we saw this church of Astorga.

For Day 2 from Villadangos to Astorga I have walked about 28.5 kilometres. My right shin was beginning to hurt at this point, I actually hobbled on the way to the supermarket and back.

Little did I know things were about to get worse.

1 comment:

  1. Ooh, cliffhanger.
    That scenic spot just looks dry in the photograph.
    What sort of food was offered?