Paulo Coelho

Stories & Reflections

Paul on the road : from Astorga

Author: Paulo Coelho

The road is proving to much harder than I ever imagined, but I don’t blame the road for this because I am making the road difficult for myself perhaps… At home in Austria, I run almost daily, I go often into the mountains both in winter and summer, and consider myself very fit for my age. The road is showing me something else though, perhaps trying to tell me that I have to slow down, in everyday life and just respect and accept the fact that the body cannot always keep pace with the mind…?

Since Boadilla, the days hav been long and hard, with high winds blowing directly into my face the whole time. As I mentioned before from Condes, I set off with a small group of friends via Sahagun on the Via Triaina to Terredillos, where we found a cold and dreary Alberge. I cleaned and lit the stove as Bastian & Tara prepared the evening meal, and we enjoyed pleasant conversation about the day gone past. We had expected Rodrigo & Nuria t arrive with the rice ;-) but due to Rodrigos visit to a Vineyard some 15 kms prior, and not paying attention to the time, it soon became dark. Nuria (friend of David from Villamayor de Monjardin) picked up the GPS coordinates on her i-Phone and saw that as the crow flies, they were very near to us, but thre was no road, so they tried to walk cross country as the sun was going down rapidly. With scratches and sprains they finally arrived… without the rice ;)… at about 21:00 pm, tired and cold, so they were glad of the warm fire that was still burning. We all laughed at the experience, bt Rodrigo said it was the last time he was going to follow me on the less trodden path ;)

The day that followed was hard, with headwinds and in contradicton to recent weather, it felt really cold. We headed out on the Via Triaina only to find a sign fter about 4 kms forbidding Periginos from using the path. So we took the detour back on to the very boring main road. Finally arrivig at Reliegos, we headed for the bar for a coffee and bite to eat. Maria & Ariana walked in and as the juke box played the Blue Danube, they began to dance the beautiful but difficult left waltz ;), Stefan and Mark also trundled in and our moral was hightened just enough to ease our last etappe into Mansilla.

A very frindly German Hospitaliero greeted us there, and the man with magic hands was carefully working on various peregrinos, in order to ease their ailments. He saw that I was hobbling and asked me to sit down whilst he then rested his hands on my shoulders. Following his instructions to take a walk around the courtyard, I did, and was amazed at just how much his work had assisted my throbbing legs. He also told me of the 3 musts when walking the Camino… If you wear boots, leave the last 3 laceholes open, Walk no faster than 4.5 kms per hour and lat but not least, Drink at least one litre of water per every 10 kms… wish I’d known this from the outset, it woul have averted much pain and the necessity for so many rest days.

Next morning off to Leon and I checked in early to the Benedictine Alberge in the centre of town. I layed down early for a rest and especially to raise my legs as instructed in Mansilla. After about 2.5 hours a tribe of Peregrinos came in, very loud and totally disrespectfull of the needs of others. Amoung them was an Australian woman who rnfrom one room to the other complaing like mad that there was no air in the place. This she did for about half an hour, when it finally got too much and I said what do you want for nothing (donation only) and witout hesitation, I packed my things and headed for the door. I had such a bad feeling about the night to come with this unruly crowd, I jut had to leave… and as I ran out of the door, who should I bump into… Tara from UK… and when she asked where I was going… I said “anywhere but here,let’s go” and we both headed out of town to Virgen de Camino, having first taken in the important sights of th town. The Cathedral was unfortunately closed for restorations, but we did manage to see other fine sights on the way out. (So this was the flight out of Leaon for those who were curious ;)

Having made a wonderfully healthy evening meal at the new Refugio in Virgen we all headed for an early night.

The next morning to us via Chozas de Abajo and Villar de Mazarife to Hospital de Orbigo where we were amazed by the pure beauty of this medieval town with it’s wonderful bridge. (see pic)

On the following morning, I had to bid my guardian angels, Tara & Bastian, of the last week, as I told them I needed to rest my leg. They were relieved at last to hear that I was going to do this, as they were becomming concerned at my stubborness to continue against all odds. Who knows when we’ll see each other again… but one thing is for sure… they were true companions, and I enjoyed eery moment spent with them… love to you both wherever you are ;-( and take care…
So I did as I was told and am currently here in Astorga resting (well except for writing this update) and depending on how my legs look in the morning, I’ll decide onmy next move… towards the mountain “Cruz de Ferro”…

Good night all, and keep following

Loe, Paul

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