Hospital de Órbigo to Santa Catalina de Somoza, 26.6km
The terrain started to change on today’s walk. Leaving the Meseta behind, the path leads through the foothills of the mountains of western Castilla y León. These distant mountains more prominent around every bend. Much of the terrain today reminded me of the Texas Hill Country in terms of contour and flora.
The highlight of the day was the Casa de Las Dioses Donativo (featured image of the day), 6km or so outside of Astorga. All of the Donativos on the Camino are perfectly placed and welcome relief but this one definitely rises above.
The guy, David from Barcelona, that runs/owns it lives on site and stocks it with a variety of beverages, fruits, and bread. Even better is the personal conversation. While I was there he welcomed each pilgrim with a hug and questions about their pilgrimage.
All of the food and beverages were spread out on a cart and a few tables and benches around. All were encouraged to take as much as they wanted. There didn’t seem to be any gluttons or food-insecure people taking, everyone enjoyed what was there but didn’t take more than needed. Off to the side of the cart was a small donation box. David said at the end of the day there was always enough money to buy supplies for tomorrow. Our frightened world needs more places like this.
This was the catalyst for a really good conversation about economics. He believes the earth provides enough for all people to have enough, we just need to learn to share better. I share my thoughts with him, which were very similar. Mine, an eclectic economic thought fueled by my missional perspective of the Judeo-Christian faith and a lot of Wendell Berry.
Our conversation turned to the Camino. David asked how mine had been thus far, I told him that it was very good but difficult to describe or condense the goodness into any one thing. He thinks the Camino gives us an opportunity to cast off distractions and experience the truly good things about being human – walking, good conversations, food & drink, and some hardship. That begins to capture it.
Not long after leaving La Casa de Las Dioses, we (I was walking with friends I met this morning) arrived at the Cruceiro de Santo Toribio. Just beyond the cross was an old man playing guitar. When we came upon him, he stopped and said,
“¡Buenos Dias, peregrinos!”
He went on to ask where we were from. Two things happened when he learned I was from Texas, 1) He wanted to know if I had any US Currency for his tip jar, and 2) He composed and sang a song to me, David el Tejano de San Antonio. Thoroughly impressed with the homage he paid me, I left $7 USD in his tip jar. Money well spent.
We made it to Astorga around noon and separated because of different sight-seeing plans. Astorga is a beautiful town and worth seeing but I had my eyes (and stomach) on lunch and then the trek to Santa Catalina de Somozo, still another 9.4km away. I stopped on the edge of town for huevos fritos, tocino, papas fritas, and the ubiquitous baguette.
After breakfast-for-lunch, it was back on the Way. Made it Santa Catalina by mid-afternoon. Found a bed at a self-contained (bed/laundry/food/bar) albergue and settled in.
After the nap, I went out to explore Santa Catalina, it is a tiny place and took about 15 minutes to see everything worth seeing.
It was a good day, fueled by some good conversations and thoughts of the upcoming mountains.