The last day of walking! The route out of the city was straightforward although I was the only pilgrim around. I had eaten fruits and yogurt, and restocked on peanuts, but I was hoping for an open café too. No such luck.
About 6 km later I was walking through a village, Palacios de la Valduerna, when I heard someone call “Peregrina!” Flora lives next to the Correos and is involved in improving the pilgrim experience in her village. She offered to call and get the key so I could see the museum. Normally she would have it, but didn’t today, for some reason beyond my Spanish comprehension. I declined that, but she really wanted to give me a brochure about the village, to inform my circle of camino friends, so I went to her house for that. She offered me café, which I couldn’t (and didn’t want to) refuse! In her living room she told me about how there were fewer pilgrims this year than last (something I had heard before), and how they were going to improve the (already good) signage to direct people right by the museum. The village used to have 1000 people but is down to about 400 now. Then we went to look at the outside of the museum and church, and took a whole series of selfies and pictures of each other, with each other’s camera. Flora was very thorough.
I will try to add a scan of the brochure sometime in the future.
The rest of the walking day was a bit monotonous.
About 5 km outside of Astorga, soon after crossing the highway junctions, I lost all signage. I followed some farm tracks until a road led back to the highway. Then several km plodding on the asphalt into Astorga.
I eventually got to the now-familiar hill leading up to the Albergue Siervas de María. I had considered taking a private hotel room, but decided it would be more fitting to end my journey properly at the junction with the Camino Francés. I was glad I did.
It was interesting to observe the sudden change. The albergue was busy with people who had walked from afar, people just starting, people hobbling, people with new shoes and old dusty ones, newly formed and constantly-changing Camino families speaking various languages.
I am not a person who welcomes a lot of “communal-ness,” singalongs and group bonding exercises, and the mention of a ukulele will usually send me running with hands over my ears and eyes. It’s a long story and I blame my dear departed mother! However, when the ukulele strains of Jason Mraz’s “I’m Yours” filtered upstairs from the gathering area, I decided to go have a closer look. The young Brazilian who carried the ukelele with him was very impressive! The instrument was passed to a young Korean who played next, also very well. The multi-national gathering of good cheer certainly illustrated the charm of the Camino Francés and reminded me that I could enjoy that again, too. In limited doses.
Someone asked me if I was sad to be leaving. I said, no, I had a good walk, I have walked into Santiago several times so I didn’t feel unfinished, one month was enough for me, I was looking forward to getting home, and I could always come back. I wished them Buen Camino.
I think that is the perfect mood to end on. I am feeling good and walking strong, with no injuries and my blisters have healed, but the body is ready for a rest day or two. I think my Spanish comprehension has improved quite a bit but my speech less so.
Thus endeth this Camino. I intend to write some summary posts, and even go back and edit my posts to be more helpful to people who are looking for information. However, don’t hold your breath!
Finally, if you are reading these through a link as my Facebook friend, and want to continue, you should follow my blog separately as I don’t intend to link so often to my Facebook account.