June 12, 2012
It was a rough night last night. In all of the albergues I have stayed at so far, the lights go out at 10pm, sometimes at 9pm. I fell asleep before 9pm, but woke up at 11pm to find the light still on. Too tired to climb down to turn it off, I fling my arm over my face and sleep some more. 1am, still on, 3am, still on, 4:15am, still on. At 5:17am, I can’t take it anymore and get up and get dressed, leaving the albergue at 6am. It’s still dark, the half moon high in the sky.
My Camino guidebook outlines 2 different ways to walk the next 40km or so. One way is along the highway, the other (often longer, but just by a couple of kilometers) is on smaller roads off the beaten path. Sometimes it’s hard to tell where the path divides, especially at 6am, when there aren’t that many people around. At first, I pass the turn, but something doesn’t seem right, so I turn back and find the right way. A Korean guy is behind me and wants to take the same road. We fall in step and start talking.
Kyeongsoo has 2 months off (which he gets after working for 10 years for the same company) and is walking the Camino solo. His daughter just graduated from Princeton and is now at Wharton Business School, his son studying fashion in Korea. He is suitably impressed with my TaeKwonDo black belts. We compare lives as we walk across the high plains. There are no bars open in the first villages we pass through, so after 3 hours of walking, we stop for a picnic in the town park. I didn’t really plan on a picnic, but we pooled our resources. He had peanuts, I had prunes, chocolate cookies, sunflower seeds, and a nut/choco bar. There was no cafe, but it still was nice.
He walked ahead as I was made a bathroom stop, but we met about an hour and a half later at the next bar. We’ve already walked 24km and it was only another hour walk til the next town, Hospital de Orbigo. My dogs were barking, but a 12th Century bridge and a decent town was calling, so off we went. Today’s walk is flat long road that cuts through fields of corn, all leaning away from the wind. I pass local folks wrapped from head to toe. They say, “un poco frio,” a little cold, which is an understatement. Today is fairly cold and windy; I’m wearing my fleece and my raincoat, plus my scarf.
The albergue has a nice courtyard and I’m early enough to get the bottom bunk. The shower is basically outside and has one temperature, lukewarm. Clothes get washed and I shuffle back to the bridge where the town’s fancy hotel has internet. A glass of wine and a lovely salad make for lunch on the patio, where, if you’re just sitting and not walking, it’s positively freezing.
Going back to the albergue, my Italian friend Livio was there, Kyeongsoo checked in, and when I went in the kitchen to make tea, I found another Italian guy making what looked like a very nice lunch of ham, potatoes, and vegetables. He invited me to share his bottle of wine, and those of you who know me know that I never turn down a glass of wine. Two Italians, one South Korean, and me. Eventually, I went to dinner at the local restaurant and watched a soccer (football) game on the tv hanging on the wall of the restaurant.
Well, I’m certainly not lonely.