Friday, May 6. Santa Catalina de Somoza, Spain
I may be in trouble. Laurie has developed a new crush here on the Camino. It’s on a man. Actually, it’s on an entire class of men: elderly Spanish men who provide us directions, whether we need them or not. It may be because we look confused—even when we know where we’re going. Or it might be that Spaniards feel they get a blessing when they help out peregrinos on the Camino.
Several weeks ago we were heading out of the village of Calzada del Coto after a mid morning break. One hundred meters ahead of us on the road a Spanish gentleman with a cane was out for a walk and heading our way. We took a short detour down a side street to look at a local church. When we walked back out he was leaning on the cane, waiting for us.
When we got up next to him he greeted us and started to chatter at us in Spanish. We finally got that he was trying to make sure we got on the right road, because at that point the Camino was split into the Via Romana—the longest remaining section of Roman Road in Spain—or a return to the main route. I pulled out my map and between our rudimentary Spanish and his pointing we confirmed we were on our chosen path.
This happens to us every few days. I mentioned in a previous post that a man followed us a block in Pamplona and then stopped us to make sure we knew where the Camino was. In another case we were walking down a street in a town with our friends Beth and Jerry looking for a market. A man—not elderly, with his young daughter in tow—stopped us and asked in excellent English, “Are you lost? Because there’s nothing down this street.” He and his daughter led us to the market.
In another town I was stopped by an elderly Spanish woman who chatted with me for several minutes about the Camino and where to stay. I understood very little of what she said, but grasped the helpful sentiment.
And on our way into Astorga yesterday we were stymied by conflicting sets of yellow directional arrows. One pointed to the left to a Roman Puenta (bridge) while the other directed us straight ahead. Because we were looking to enter the town with a bridge famous for a thirty day challenge in the Middle Ages by a local knight, we were confused. Fortunately, one of Laurie’s crushes showed up to point us in the right direction—which was straight ahead—and across what I call the Bridge of Knightly Testosterone.
I guess under the circumstances I’ll put up with it—as long as it doesn’t go beyond the “crush” stage.
TRAVEL UPDATE: Our journey to Camino de Santiago is now two thirds over. Our remaining time is now measured in days instead of weeks.
Yesterday we planned on a short day—20 km—but a forecasted thunderstorm held off and we wound up going all the way to historic Astorga. Enroute we stopped in a first bar to grab lunch and use the facilities. Sitting there was our friend Maria, from Puerto Rico. We met her and Sofia early in our travels, on the bridge where Martin Sheen dropped his backpack in “The Way” movie. Maria was in the middle of composing an email to us. One of those Camino miracles/coincidences.
Maria joined us for our 30 km trek into Astorga. We dined in a 140 year old restaurant featured in James Michener’s book, “Iberia” and spent this morning touring the cathedral and the Gaudi designed Bishop’s Palace. Then this morning our trio set out in the rain on a 10km day to Santa Catalina. We’ve settled into this charming village with a declining population reduced to about 50. Even the sheep folds in town are unoccupied. But our Albergue is comfortable and we’re in a private room with a private bath. Happy wife, happy life.