Camino Postcard 25: Santibañez de Valdeiglesia to Astorga

Today was, I think, the first day on the Camino that we did no walking whatsoever. Ellena was unwell so the hospitalero in Santibañez kindly called a taxi to take us to Astorga.

While we waited for it to arrive, we said goodbye to Tony – he was heading on by foot. We didn’t know it at the time but this would be the last occasion that we saw him on the Camino.

Astorga was ten or so kilometres away – a morning’s walk on foot but less than an hour by car. Before we knew it, therefore, we were sitting in the seating area of a rather ornate hotel drinking coffee, looking up albergues on-line.

The Palacio Episcopal in Astorga

In the end, we decided to stay at a nearby cheap hotel – the Hostal Coruña on the av. de Ponferrada – nearby was important so that Ellena didn’t have to walk too far. We also wanted a little extra privacy.

We checked in and found our room. Ellena and Carolin settled down to rest. I went in search of food, and a cash machine. Surely there would be one in this town?

Off I went, enjoying the sight of the countryside and distant mountains until I turned left and found a church, which I decided to pop into. There, I found Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament exposed. That was a bit of a treat, so I knelt down and prayed before Him. I prayed for Ellena and, yes, a cash machine. Laugh when you have gone three days on the Camino without money and have had to rely on the kindness of people with not much more than you. I also gave some thanks because twice during this Camino when I had run out of money and not been able to find a cash machine, including at Santibañez, Tony had lent me some of his.

After saying my prayers, I left the church to resume my search. Along the way, I ran into Lillian. I told her about my quest and she offered to lend me some money as well. The miracle of the Camino: being so kind to people you barely know. Lillian and Tony were very kind indeed. Thanks to Tony in Santibañez, however, I didn’t need any more money at the moment, but I told Lillian I would let her know if no cash machine was forthcoming.

Off I went, and not long later – a cash machine! Two cash machines! Three! Hold on, there’s a fourth!! All within spitting distance of each another. Wow.

I withdrew as much money as the machine would let me then went in search of my second target: a supermarket. Today was a Sunday so many of the shops were closed; Lillian, however, had found one and gave me directions to it. As much by accident as by design – remember I am Malcolm the Bad Navigator – I found it and bought some supplies for the afternoon.

After returning to the hotel, it was my turn to rest for a while. Later, we watched The Fugitive in Spanish, and in the evening, I went to a local pizza restaurant to buy our tea.

The pizzas that we ate on the Camino were generally okay to good; I think there were only two or three had were really good. I’m sorry I didn’t write down where I ate them – another reason to do the Camino Francés again!

After finishing our food, we settled down for the evening. Rest was the order of the day; rest, and recuperation.

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