06 August 2012

Camino de Santiago Day 10: Hospital de Órbigo - Foncebadón

After a fitful night's sleep we woke up with the rest of the pilgrims and I was still feeling quite nauseous. We slowly got ourselves ready, and soon found ourselves alone in the hostel. The boys cooked some plain pasta for me in the hopes I'd be able to get some food down, but I was only able to eat a small amount of it. The staff at the albergue were not particularly kind or understanding, which we were surprised about, especially considering the stories we'd been told from previous hospitaleros about how they'd taken care of ill and injured pilgrims. (Also, I had only gotten a very small amount of vomit on the mattress itself, but I was still a bit grossed out to see them just flip it over rather than washing it!!) There was no way we were staying another night at that terrible albergue anyway, so we decided to head to Astorga, about 15km away, and just see how it went. We took the attitude that any amount of ground we could cover today would be better than nothing.

On the way to Astorga
The 16km to Astorga were not the easiest and we all agreed it was probably good we hadn't attempted it the night before, despite our bad experience. I was struggling because I hadn't managed to eat much and the camino was quite bumpy which was upsetting my stomach further. Alberto wasn't feeling great either, his allergies were bothering him quite a bit and of course he hadn't slept well either.

On the way into Astorga we came upon the cycling couple who had had so much pain in their butts a few days ago. We had compared notes on where we had been and where we were going and discussed our various ailments. Eventually we made it to Astorga where we split up with our new friends, took in the sights and then headed to a park where we all fell asleep. We spent over two hours in Astorga and didn't leave until around 2pm. I still hadn't managed to eat much although I kept trying. It hadn't been pleasant but it was clear that I was still able to pedal the bike, so we just decided to keep going and see how far we could get.

Palacio Gaudí in Astorga
We knew that there was a big uphill after Astorga, but we took a very quiet road up the climb (rather than the camino path itself) to ease our passage slightly. The road was beautiful and the climb was actually quite gentle--I spent most of the time thinking about how much I would have enjoyed it if I was feeling good!

Climbing after Astorga
We made it to Rabanal del Camino at about 4pm and learned that we were only 5km from the top of the mountain. We decided to have some lunch and then push on. Since we were quite late for lunch on the Camino the only thing available was a full three course pilgrim's menu--completely unreasonable for me given my tiny appetite but I ordered it anyway. I picked at each portion and had the boys eat what they could -- the manager actually came over to ask if the food was okay, but we explained the problem was with me, not the food!

We then departed up the road and I just kept thinking that there were only 5km to go - even though it was uphill and it semed to take forever. It wasn't my most successful climb, especially when we got passed by several machacas from an Astorga cycling club on their fancy road bikes -- they all shouted things to me as they passed, like 'Buen Camino!' and 'Venga chica, casi estás!'

Arriving in Foncebadón
The albergue in Foncebadón
Finally, we made it to Foncebadón where we located the albergue parroquial. Foncebadón is a tiny town near the top of a mountain, not much more than a few houses and albergues. By this time it was around 6:30pm. We asked the hospitalero if there was any space for us -- of course there was, but just in mattresses on the floor! That sounded great to me since I was very much blaming my top bunk for the disaster the night before. A few minutes later, the cycling couple came in behind us -- very pleased to see that we had made it this far, I guess I must have looked really bad in Astorga! They were from near Burgos and it was their first major bike trip. The guy, Félix, seemed to be enjoying it much more than his partner, Gema! We really liked them, though I had a lot of trouble understanding their accent!

View from Foncebadón
We had a communal dinner of Paella which I managed to eat a good amount of. It was really nice, there were some pilgrims from other albergues there as well because the hospitalero, Carlos, has a rule of never turning anyone away who needs to eat. Conversation was pleasant and then we all had to go around the table singing songs from where we were from. Carlos said that he knew not everyone liked it, but he was going to do it anyway. Then he said how glad he was to see so many Spaniards there because he often has mainly foreigners. Then, the first person to sing, promptly said that he was NOT Spanish, he was from Bilbao (Basque Country)! Everyone laughed, but it was a bit awkward! Fortunately towards the end of the table was another guy from Bilbao who said he was from Bilbao, Spain, and the World! So that put things right again. Thank goodness there was another American girl (who lives in Spain) near me, we sang 'This Land is your Land' together!

Waiting for dinner to start

By the end of the night I was feeling better than I had all day and we had high hopes for climbing O Cebreiro, the last big mountain before Santiago, the next day.

Stats for the day:
Moving time: 4h6m
Stopped time: 3h35m
Max speed: 49.7kph
Moving average: 10.8kph
Overall average: 5.8kph
Odometer: 44.35kph

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