27 kilometers, 5 hours. Through the larger town of Mombuey on the highway and then through the tiny hamlets of Valdemerilla, Cernadilla, San Salvador de Palazuelo, and Entrepeñas, before crossing the freeway to Asturianos.
The night before, as I finished off a glass of red wine and some light tapas, fully expecting to be the only pilgrim in the albergue (hostel), into the Palacio Bar walked the Australian couple I had met days earlier at some ruins beside our Camino path. They were bundled up against the cold, had headlamps atop their heads, and were fully spent.
Mike and Cici had walked over thirty kilometers and into the cold night because they thought there would have been some sort of lodging in one of the villages in which I had found so little—like nothing. They asked me about the albergue, and I told them it was unlocked and the little heaters were on, and I suggested they try the food at Me Gusta Comer. We chatted later at the albergue; they said they liked their meals, but they were quite knackered from their long day. Lights out early.
Next morning, Mike and Cici and I met at the Palacio Bar and had breakfast together while they waited for the sun to rise, and we talked about game plans before I headed out into the cold. It had frozen again that night—even though my weather app said it wouldn’t. Oh well.
I had developed a minor head cold the previous couple of days and planned—with encouragement from Cici—to stop in Mombuey and find a pharmacy. In Mombuey, I did that and with my best—painfully bad—Spanish bought some meds to help clear up my sinuses, hoping to avoid worsening symptoms. I then stopped at a bar to get a bocadillo (sandwich) for the road.
As I strode along anticipating my lunch, I could see snowy peaks on mountain tops to the northwest, near the border with Galicia, home to the autonomous community (state) of the city of Santiago de Compostela, my eventual destination.
When I talked with my daughter on her birthday, she had asked me if I was getting homesick. I had answered with a resounding “Yes!” At that point, on that day, and anticipating the finish in Santiago, I simply thought, In less than two weeks I will be home. Manageable.
As I lay in my sleeping bag in Asturianos later that same day and hoped the heater could work faster while I wrote up my notes for the day, in walked Fernando. He was a member of the sagrada familia (our little “holy family”), a name the Belgian guy, Eric, had given our Camino group in the early weeks of my Camino. I still understood very little of Fernando’s rapid staccato of the Spanish language, but it was great to see him. He was the oldest of our group, and one of the strongest. He had been with Fran and José (other members of the familia) until they had to head home, no more holiday time off.
Costs: €4 for the municipal albergue, €6.50 for pharmaceuticals, €5 for a sandwich and coffee, and €8 for a pizza and wine in the bar at the sport complex where the albergue was located.