Day 19: Villavante to Santa Catalina de Somoza

As mentioned in the last post, Guelane picked me up after my outdoor sleeping experience and we had a pain o chocolate for breakfast before starting our day of walking.

The next village was only 5km away and presented itself with its well known bridge. We later heard also of its great auberge with home grown veggies etc, but missed that experience.

The walk today was some 30k and included some altitude gain of c200m with a few ups and downs as we marched into the mountains of Leon. The big hike would only come tomorrow as we approach Cruz de ferro. Guelane’s leg had deteriorated more and caused some pain. He kept going though. Well done!

First highlight of the day was David. He has spent the past 6y maintaining a stand (summer and winter) where pilgrims are offered fruit, drinks and other food on a donations only basis. In his old life he was a rich man, has been separated twice and has two children. He looked to be in his late 40’s. Money and anything related with that were a disliked issue for him (some euro notes and coins littered the ground of one stone formation / artwork he put). Not sure what exactly drove him, but must have been serious enough. Anyway, thanks David for two eggs, one slice tortilla, one avocado, three plums and fresh water. We left eur5 in the donations box.

6km later we arrived in the city of Astorga where we briefly chatted with Juan from Malaga. Since he was waiting for a friend, he declined our offer for joint lunch. Known for chocolate, it also boast a huge cathedral and gaudi’s palace. The latter looks like a fairytale castle and in its style similar to la sagrada familia in Barcelona (also by Gaudi). It was meant to become the bishop’s palace, but was never used this way and now hosts the museum of the camino. While I looked around town a bit (and after we both enjoyed a kebab), Guelane rested his leg under two bags of ice before we moved on.

Our plan was to walk another two hours for c31km. Although the heat picked up markedly, the walk was pleasant due to great views. Arriving at Santa catalina, we found our hostel and enjoyed a welcome drink offered by a bunch of Italians (a swiss dude would spend the night at toilet as result ;o). They were sat with isabel and an old man from Barcelona with his dog. He has been walking the camino 15 times, played the flute and wasn’t shy accepting drinks here or there. Isabel was busy drawing him. Need to ask her to take a photo of that picture. Very skilful (well, she studies art for a reason I guess).

For dinner we had pilgrims meals (lentil soup, two eggs with fries, ice cream and wine for me) joined by olga (Germany, studies architecture in Innsbruck) and a belgian girl (name currently elusive). Nice conversation about camino and other trips, what we have learnt and what we do. The usual chat when you meet people first time on the camino and always interesting.

Team Belgium (Swiss guy in the middle)

After we collected our washing from the dryer, it was bedtime. We both were pretty tired after today. And that can only help to master the hopefully not too noisy night in the hostel (Guelane snorting away underneath me at the time of writing … Where is my shoe to throw?).

Good night all or Buenas noches!




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