Homer's Travels: Camino 2013 - Day 29: Astorga To Foncebadón

Friday, January 10, 2014

Camino 2013 - Day 29: Astorga To Foncebadón

Today was the beginning of the end for my blister problems. I would have other blisters farther ahead but Gv and I would finally get a handle on how to treat my feet. Last Camino it was Gv who had had terrible blister problems.  This time around she was free of major blisters (toe blisters don't count).    When we left Astorga I had lubed my feet up with PEDI-Relax, covered my existing blisters with gauze pads secured in place by Hypafix, and I wore wool socks over liners socks.  This would be the right setup for me.

This stage was a repeat of the one from my first Camino (posted about it here).  We first stopped at a bar/restaurant in Santa Catalina de Somoza for breakfast.  The restaurant advertised vegetarian, vegan, and gluten free meals.  The food along the Camino was slowly changing to accommodate different eating styles and conditions.  The owner was very nice and her bar was packed with people this morning.  The Bulgarian couple were here and I wished a happy birthday to the girl - it would be the first and last time I would actually talk to them ... or see them.

A tough tree growing out of a wall.
Next stop along the way was El Mesón Cowboy in El Ganzo.  Last time I'd missed the opportunity to get a stamp but this time I got one along with a sandwich which I ate while watching cats waiting for a pilgrim to drop food.  This is a good place to rest as the Camino starts to really climb soon afterwards.

We reached Rabanal and looked for an open store.  After a couple of misses we finally found an open store (It may have been a Sunday and a lot of things were closed).  Our destination, Foncebadón, did not have much of a store so we had to stock up for tomorrow early.  On the way out of town we ran into Vn.  We chatted a bit.  He was staying in Rabanal since he'd heard bedbug rumors about Foncebadón.  We'd liked the place last time so we decided to risk it and continue on anyway.

Out of Rabanal the Camino climbs and, like last time, I felt pretty good.  We met another pilgrim, Wy, a Vietnam vet.  He told us his story as we walked up the hill.  He and his friend had protested the war.  When his friend dodged the draft and was arrested, he went to prison, sentenced to four years.  Wy decided he wouldn't survive prison so he went to Vietnam.  He returned with PTSD.  I think the Camino was part of his long healing process.

Looking back on the trail to Foncebadón.
We were resting and talking when some horse pilgrims snuck up behind us and scared the bejeezus out of us.  This would happen a couple times on the way to Foncebadón.  Those horses can be sneaky!

We arrived in Foncebadón and checked into the hippie albergue we'd stayed at last time.  We checked our bed thoroughly and found no evidence of bedbugs.  We did our chores and, despite the chill in the air, we went outside to sit in the sun.  We were joined by Ma, Wy, and other pilgrims we'd seen that day.  We all sat around snacking and drinking.  The wine was cheap here and, while I didn't partake, others did.

I went up to my bed to take a nap.  When I returned there were more empty wine pitchers on the table.  Everyone was a bit tipsy.  Pilgrims were playing games with the local kids and everyone was having a great time.  There was a sign in the albergue that said "No hay Wi-Fi (Hablad entre vosotros.)" which means "There is no Wi-Fi (Talk amongst yourselves.)".  I can say that everyone took those words to heart and we all benefited from them.

There is no Wi-Fi (Talk amongst yourselves).  Word!
Dinner was a communal affair and it was pretty good.  More wine was passed around and a few people (especially Ma) were very happy.  Not sure how happy they would be walking the next day though.  Gv asked about the homemade goat yogurt they served last time.  They said they were not allowed to serve it but, after pleading, and consulting with the owner of the albergue, a large cup full was put in front of her.  I tried some and I have to say I don't like "real" yogurt.  Too sour for me.  I prefer the sweetened American stuff.

Our clothes, despite the wind and sun, hadn't dried by the time we headed for bed.  We strung a few of Gv's extra shoelaces together and made a clothesline over our beds and hung all our stuff up.  I fell asleep surrounded by t-shirts, underwear and socks.

A note about the pictures.  There are stretches where I didn't take many pictures (this stage being one of them).  Sometimes it was because of the weather - rain is uninspiring even with a waterproof camera.  Other times it was due to a desire not to take the same pictures as last time.  Several times I stopped myself when I realized that I'd taken the exact same picture on my first Camino.  The pictures I did take can, as usual, be found in my 2013 Camino de Santiago Google Photos album.

Total Distance on Day 29: 26 km ( 16.16 Miles)
Total Distance Walked: 661 km (410.73 Miles)

Approximate Track of the day's hike.
[Click on map for a larger version]


  1. Delighted to hear directly from the camino...I walked st.jean to santiago last July and im smitten....would love to be there now..hope to go again in summer. ..thanks for flashbacks it helps with the withdrawal. .lol....I wish you well on your journey. .buen camino

    1. RI: Welcome to Homer's Travels and you are welcome for all the flashbacks. I have spent the last two years since my first Camino flashing back to the wonderful times I had. I'm happy I could pass that joy along.

  2. Just realised you are not actually on camino now...oops....would love to know your thoughts on doing camino second time around. ..you mention not having same glow...is it a bit of an anti climax ?

    1. RI: After I finish posted about my second Camino (another 19 posts or about 7 weeks) I will take time to put into words how I felt about it. I have hinted, as you noted, about the lack of a 'glow' after my second Camino. I will have more to say about that. I would suggest, if you are planning to do the Camino again this summer, to take a different route this time. Perhaps the Del Norte or Primitivo. I have heard great things about both. I saw a lot of change on the Frances and the change was not necessarily to the better. The parts I liked the most were the parts I hadn't done last time (The Aragones, and a few other I will be posting about).

      I think the Camino is like a good movie. The first time is awesome. The second time you see more details that you missed the first time but the overall experience is never as good as the first time.