Day 17: Astorga to Foncebadon

Good morning! We awoke in the albergue  this morning to anything “butt.” That is to say, such close quarters can really be trying. As Mikey puts it, “Good morning!” is simply an antiquated Europeanism that should have ended with the plague. It celebrates Gunter’s making it through the night or Olaf not being carried away by wolves. Yes, those were good mornings. 

Conversely, waking up to a geriatric Frenchman parading around in bicycle shorts or the inharmonious calliope of communal morning flatulence is anything but good. Let’s just do away with the niceties and put on pants!

The above aside, we did have reason to celebrate this morning as we left the Meseta! Well…kind of. Astorga marks the geographical end of the Spanish high plains. While we have officially left them behind, we will not reach the geographically and politically distinct region of Galicia for a few more days. Still, green grass and hills are a welcomed sight after the monotony we have endured.  

“Oh dear Camino marker, lead us on to Santiago. Wait a second, we forgot what hills feel like!”

 The town of Santa Catalina first introduced us to rock wall ruins. It (and many other towns) had fallen to near oblivion in the later part of the 20th century only to be revived by the Camino. While the remains of many abandoned houses and small farms abound, there are many thriving, albeit small, communities of inhabitants along the way. 

As an aside, we also met up with a trail mate (Mike) whom we had not seen since Day 3! 
 The advantage of walking at a faster pace is getting to select the rest stops. Please know that Frank was not in the lead today when we arrived in El Ganso!

 As the day warmed up a bit, many of the clouds began to break up. We can tell that Spring is finally coming by wildflowers blooming along the path. 

 Even Pilgrim Mikey was feeling a bit lighter today.  

We finally reached our goal of Foncebadon. It is a mountain hamlet that has also experienced rebirth due entirely to the Camino. 

In 1900, the village had a population of some 250. By 1990, it had become abandoned. Thus, we walked through some rather eerie ruins of homes and shops before arriving at our albergue an only restaurant in town. Oh, and by “town,” we mean the one street that runs through the hamlet! 

Still, it was a nice getaway from the more populated pilgrim stopovers and we had a great dinner. Time to pile into the bunk room and get an early start in the morning. Adios. 

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