After a wonderful breakfast and with a big smile on our faces, we continued our journey again as five happy pilgrims.

We left the Jesus Inn and all our special memories behind, under the watchful eyes of the storks that had built their nest on the clock tower of Villar de Mazarife.

The first few hours the trail went through vast fields with great vistas. Sometimes we saw the beautiful clouds in all their different shapes and colours above the freshly mowed grain fields which were dotted with bales of straw.

After a while, we reached the famous Órbigo bridge, apparently the longest bridge on the Camino. We stopped for lunch in the village. During lunch, Ilse asked for our attention and said:

'I've got something for you all'

As she said this, she gave us something to unwrap. She had given us the pin with the yellow Camino arrow.

wow...I was really touched

I thought it was a wonderful gesture, as it not just sealed our friendship as a group. We had already met each other at the start of the Camino, and we were somehow brought together again and again. It seemed as if we had all known each other for years, and for me, it felt like a friendship for life.

We all pinned our arrow visible on our backpacks.

only we knew the symbolic value of this gift

We decided to walk on until Astorga, even though this was still quite a long distance, which would take us about five hours.

After we had passed a number of small villages, the landscape changed, and we walked on a beautiful plateau. Here we came at a beautiful stone cross.

We paused for a while, and suddenly Miss Kiwi took her high heels from her backpack. Then she hung these shoes on a couple of walking sticks of the dutchies, and put them against the cross. It looked weird and comical at the same time...

as if suddenly two different worlds had come together

Miss Kiwi changed again into her alter ego as an actress, and she asked Ilse, our photographer, to make a photo session. It was completely crazy to see her parading around the rolling rocks in her long skirt and on her high heels. She took on all the funny poses you can think of. It was all so out of place and in contrast with the surroundings and the stone cross.

After Miss Kiwi had finished her bizarre act, we walked on with a big grin, looking forward to reaching the next village.

But very soon, and out of nowhere, a very colourful and shady resting place came into vision, with a comfortable hammock, fresh melon, and sodas. What a pleasant surprise! You could decide for yourself how much you wanted to donate for all this.

a wonderful principle, based on trust!

I walked over to the hammock and, to my great surprise, sitting on a bench slightly hidden in the shadow, I found my role model with her mission:

'the Camino is my way of life'

I knelt before her, hugged her, and said:

'wauw…Miss Italy…so nice to see you again!'

She answered my hug and smiled. We exchanged a few words, and I noticed that I was still very fascinated by her mission. But I also still couldn't really figure her out completely, and I didn't understand why she walked the same way to Santiago every year.

what was her secret?

After this wonderful stop and the happy reunion with Miss Italy, we walked on and arrived in San Juste de la Vega. This was the last village before Astorga, and we were pretty exhausted. Nevertheless, we decided to continue for one more hour to Astorga, but actually, this was too much, we had walked for far more than 30 km.

Once we arrived in Astorga, we checked in at a large inn with enormous dormitories, but we couldn't really care about that, we were completely worn out.

We were happy to finally drop ourselves on a terrace. Anja discovered her first blister. Not that strange after this day, but still remarkable on the other hand, as she had walked for thousands of kilometres. Today, we had all crossed our personal limits. But this didn't affect the great atmosphere in our group.

After a lovely drink and a simple meal, it was time for a good night's sleep. It was still always a challenge to create my own space in a large dormitory, and I sometimes dreaded it.

In the end, I was laying in my sleeping bag on one of the lower bunk beds. The dutchies were across the dormitory, and Miss Kiwi was in the lower bunk bed next to mine.

It was my habit to perform all kinds of rituals in my sleeping bag, hoping that no one would notice.

First I took out my contact lenses. I absolutely could not do this in the sanitary rooms, as I would not have been able to find my own bed again, as I would be completely disorientated without my lenses.

Then I had to put in my night braces. It preferred to do this with my sleeping bag over my head, as I thought this looked very awkward...it always felt as if I was putting a complete set of teeth in or out of my mouth.

And finally, I had my earplugs. I would never survive the snoring around me without my earplugs. These plugs had to be moulded into shape before I could put them in, which took several minutes per earplug.

this way, step-by-step, I was closing myself off from everyone around me

I was busy fixing my last earplug when I suddenly jumped out of my skin...

Someone shouted my name, and next to me someone was screaming with laughter.

Miss Kiwi completely lost it!

Without me noticing anything, Miss Kiwi had carefully followed all the movements of my rituals. I turned red, felt caught in the act, but also couldn't stop myself from laughing out loud. From across the room, the dutchies asked what was going on.

It didn't take long before the other pilgrims begged us to be quiet. I put in my last earplug and pulled the sleeping bag over my head.

Read what happens next in Santiago 20

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