The next morning we walked through the beautiful town of Astorga, packed with history and reminders of Roman times.
Very impressive, these old buildings and houses radiating atmosphere. The Santiago trail always goes right through these old town centres, making the walk extra delightful.
When we passed the episcopal palace, a stunning design by Gaudí, Miss Kiwi suddenly said:
'I stop right here and will find another Inn to discover this beautiful palace and Astorga'
Wow...we had only just left the inn, this was a complete surprise for me.
However, I did understand her, because in New Zealand she didn't have this culture and history that we have in Europe. I had travelled and hiked in New Zealand myself, and it’s an amazing country with stunning nature. But I also thought that it lacked a bit the history, and atmosphere that our own continent offers.
I admired Miss Kiwi for really following her own path, and that she left this great group of ours again to do just that. I thought it was cool, probably because I found it difficult to do this myself.
And besides that, she was already so deep in my heart, that I found it hard to let her go again, afraid that I would not see her anymore. I had been so happy to meet her again on the trail after a long time.
maybe I had some issues after all?
maybe I was afraid of losing people, or I couldn't let them go?
Personally, I was continuously forced to slow down or to stop for a while due to physical injuries or other inconveniences, which resulted in having to let go of my dear Camino friends time and again. Bizarre how this worked.
Miss Kiwi was convinced of her choice, and so we decided to prolong this moment of being together for just a bit longer with a cup of coffee on a terrace.
We said goodbye with pain in our hearts, and we walked on as four dutchies, not knowing whether we would ever see her again.
I felt a bit strange inside. I had to push myself to enjoy the walk, and I didn't want the other dutchies to see that I felt this way.
The trail took us further through Astorga, and when we had almost left the town, we suddenly saw my role model by the side of the road. I said:
'wauw…Miss Italy, we have to meet again!'
We kept on meeting each other again and again...very special!
Miss Italy asked the other dutchies if they would take a photo of us together. She called me the long, blond lady, and I was fascinated by her short length and her mission.
She really wanted to send this photo to her daughter in Italy. Her daughter was a psychiatrist. She didn't want Miss Italy to walk the trail to Santiago again next year, purely because of the risk with her age of 76.
Miss Italy was a modest and helpful person. She was small and walked with funny small steps, but she was grand in her being and thinking. She followed her own path entirely. She was not in a hurry, enjoyed herself to the fullest on the trail, and took her time in everything she did. An encounter, a long lunch, a church, taking other pilgrims in tow, it didn't matter what it was.
She was radiant, it was her life! She fascinated and moved me. How I wanted to convince her daughter otherwise.
the camino was her way of life
Again, so many emotions on the trail. Suddenly I also had to think about the prayer of the monk in one of the parish inns, the Camino blessing:
blessed are you, pilgrim, if your rucksack is getting empty of things and your heart does not know where to hang so many emotions
He was right: the further my own Camino progressed, the more my emotions increased...however, my backpack was still as full as at the beginning...if not fuller. And not just fuller, I had more and more hanging on the outside as well.
so, should I let go after all?
We said goodbye again to Miss Italy. I was glad that I didn't have to say goodbye to my dutchies, which would have been too much for one day. Finally, we, the four dutchies, left Astorga behind us.
It became a beautiful hike, through undulated fields with red earth and green oak forests. After having walked for hours, we finally arrived in Rabanal del Camino. This turned out to be a peaceful, nice and small village. I fell in love with it right away.
We checked in at a nice inn. And here awaited us a new reunion!
It was the Spanish runner lady with the cigarette! Such a great and welcoming reunion!
That evening we had a delicious dinner outside, at a long white table with familiar and unfamiliar pilgrims! We enjoyed meeting all these people, the stories, and the Spanish outdoor life!
I also thought about Miss Kiwi and Miss Italy. How were they faring, and where would they be spending the night?
More to come soon in Santiago 21