Camino de Santiago, Camino Frances, pilgrimage, Spain

September 23rd, Day 22: Astorga ‘A Day of Rest for the Body, Not the Brain’

The distance covered so far.

I wake, still indecisive about taking a rest day. Tammy is up and packed and plans to move on to Rabanal. I seem to have no energy or motivation to go. We have been walking for a solid three weeks now and the past two days have not been enjoyable walking days – they have been hot and flat, and my body is tired.  I know I’m in need of a rest, but something is nagging at me to go.

Tammy heads out and I pack up and head to the square for an early lunch and more debating. I seem to have a lot of mental clarity from the past few weeks, but the only thing that’s clear today is that my head is spinning with everything that has been drudged up and discussed over the last twenty days.

After  lunch, I order a vino tinto. I feel so guilty about not walking. What is this about? I convince myself that a day of rest will make the following days more enjoyable. I sit at lunch for a long time, thinking about what the third stage of the Camino (the journey of the ‘spirit’)  holds. My mind also starts to drift to post-Camino thoughts. I didn’t need to think so much about this during the first few weeks, and I have been rewarded with being truly present in the moment, so focused on the Camino,  giving little thought to what is next and escaping the pressure I put on myself to figure out what that will be. BUT, a big question mark hangs in the air. As the finish of the Camino nears, the question “What’s next?” is creeping back in to my thoughts.

I come to the realization that for some the Camino is inconsistency. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime journey. The chance to take 5-6 weeks off work will not come around again soon for some. Packing up a backpack and living out of it for a month is not normal for most. For many, this is the most traveling they have ever done. For me – five weeks in the same country, walking with the same people everyday and forming a Camino family, eating the same food, drinking the same wine, hearing and speaking the same language – well, this is the most consistency I’ve had in a long time. And, I realize that these aspects have been a huge reason, if not the biggest reason, why I’ve enjoyed the Camino so much. Maybe stage three will be the opportunity to think about this.


After lunch, I head to the municipal albergue and get checked in. On my way to my bed, I run into Georgie, Rune and Sebastian (Basti). They have a spare bunk and invite me to join. We spend the afternoon relaxing at the albergue and roaming around town.

The Reef flip flops versus the Asolos, aka “Assholes”

All three of them have certain ailments – foot aches, blisters, bed bug bites, rashes, so we head to a clinic to get them doctored and then find a store selling outdoor gear. Georige and I decide that new shoes are in order. My Asolo hiking boots were great for Nepal, but to say they are being unkind to my feet on these long, flat stretches of road is an understatement. They have been renamed “Assholes.” The gentleman running the shop says that footwear is the most important part of a person’s Camino and generally the biggest misconception is that you need to wear hiking boots. Aside from crossing the Pyrenees on day one, there’s very little actual hiking. He recommends Keen’s walking shoes and he has a nice selection.

Georgie and I are in a state of bliss when we try these on. I feel like my feet are getting a massage with every step. I debate parting with almost 80 Euros, but decide it’s not a matter of money here. However, the bad news is that Georgie and I are the same size, and there’s only one pair left. So, we argue for the next ten minutes about who will take them, much to the shop owner’s chagrin. Georgie is in much more severe pain than I am. I insist she takes the shoes.

We head to a market and buy a couple bottles of vino and head back to the albergue. Basti, a very talented chef, is treating us to Risotto tonight. It is so nice to have a home-cooked meal, and something other than the pilgrim’s menu.

We spend the rest of the evening on the albergue’s patio, finishing every last drop of wine and discussing life and what is next for everyone.

I feel rested and ready for the morning walk to Rabanal, and I have plenty to think about on the way.

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