Yesterday we walked about 17 kilometers -about 10 miles - from Hospital de Órbigo to Astorga through intermittent rain and sun,..
....and copious mud
After we left our albergue we walked a few blocks through Hospital de Órbigo until we found a place open for breakfast, the bar of the hostel Don Suero de Quiñones.
It was a cute place,
...but for our breakfast of two slices of toast each with butter and jam, a coffee, a tea, and two OJ's our bill was 12€-about $13.80! Talk about high Way robbery!
Now and then on the Camino one comes across pilgrim graffiti. Today we saw this:
Though there are pilgrims who choose to walk a silent day once in a while, I wouldn't say that real pilgrims walk in silence. However real pilgrims don't sing or whistle while on the Camino, or play their music so loud that other people can hear it, or walk in big yakking, singing groups with their fellow bus tourists.
Except that once in a while they do.
But most of the time the Camino is a quiet enough place where one can find as much solitude or sociability as one wishes.
On the hill above the city of Astorga we met a couple of friendly Spanish biker dudes from Granada who took our picture for us and we took theirs as well.
Pilgrims place rocks that they've picked up and carried along the way and place them at the foot of the cross with a prayer or special intention.
When we arrived in Astorga, a city known for its cathedral,
....and its Neo-Gothic architecture of its Bishop's Residence,
...we headed for the albergue San Xavier.
...a cute, cozy rustic-looking place with a pretty court yard,
....and a summer-camp kind of feel.
The sink, shower, and commode facilities were co-ed but plentiful,
..though the shower was the kind where you press a button and get a 15 seconds of water - cold - then you have to press the button again for 15 more seconds of cold water.
But no matter, we were happy campers.
Until the laundry crisis.
After we'd showered and settled in I'd handed our dirty clothes and 8€ to the young hospitalero to wash and dry for us. Actually, 8€ was a bit on the expensive side, as most albergue laundry services run about 6€. In fact this albergue was a bit on the high side, 9€ per bed, for as basic as it was. But it was all good.
After a great 3-course dinner with wine for 10€ each at a little bar we found called El Salvadore,
I ...we returned around 9 pm to the albergue.
On the way to our dorm I swung by reception to pick up our laundry. It wasn't done yet. As lights-out was at 10 pm I returned to reception at 9:55 and asked the young hospitaliero if my laundry was ready. An aw, shoot! expression flashed across his face and he told me not to worry, as soon as my laundry was done he'd bring it to my room and set it next to my bed.
When I woke up this morning my laundry was not sitting next to my bed. I returned to reception but there was no one there. I grabbed my flashlight and went outside into the dark courtyard, wandering in the direction I'd seen the hospitaliero taking the laundry the day before. In the corner of the courtyard I saw a washer and dryer. On top of the dryer was my laundry bag and inside the dryer was my wet laundry. I pressed the "start" button on the dryer and by the light of my flashlight noticed a plastic tub full of wet laundry on top of the washer, presumably the clothes of the poor pilgrim whose wash was next in line to be dried after mine.
I went back inside the albergue and after about 20 minutes I returned to the courtyard to check on my laundry. Another young hospitaliero, a different youngster than the one who'd been on duty yesterday, was loading the next batch of wet laundry into the dryer, while mine was now in my laundry bag. It was still wet.
"No, it's not wet," said the hospitaliero, "It's just cold from being outside."
However he capitulated to my insistence that my laundry was still wet, pulled the other pilgrim's laundry from the dryer and put mine back in.
I went back inside the albergue, paced around for about 10 minutes, then wandered back out into the courtyard. My wet laundry was back in my bag and the next load was in the dryer.
This time I capitulated and brought my laundry into the albergue, hanging our clothes over chairs in the common room, as if I thought they'd dry in the brief time we had before we'd have to be out and on our way.
The pilgrim whose clothes were now in the dryer asked me how my clothes were. "Still wet," I told her.
"I'm not leaving here until my clothes are dry," she declared. When we left 45 minutes later she was still there.
Tom, whose anxiety level was now about a degree and a half lower than mine, suggested that we let the clothes dry in the room for a little while. "Pull out your laptop and work on your blog," he suggested.
So I pulled out my laptop and tried to work, but I was anxious, distracted, stopping every three minutes to check if our clothes were any dryer than they'd been three minutes earlier.
Finally it was getting so late that we couldn't hang around any longer waiting for our clothes to dry, so we just started pinning out wet clothes to the outside of our backpacks. Though it was well past "pilgrim be gone!" time at the albergue, the young hospitaliero wasn't rushing us. I kind of felt sorry for him, this whole laundry mess wasn't his fault, after all, and he was just trying to make the best of the situation. So before we left Tom and I said good-bye to him and thanked him, and, despite the laundry drama, we parted on good terms.
Which in retrospect was probably fortunate as a few moments after we left the hospitaliero came hurrying after us.
"Is this yours?" he asked, holding up my laptop, which, in my distraction over the laundry, I'd left in the common room.
So, an hour late, we headed off, 20 kilometers and a steep mountain climb ahead of us, our wet laundry pinned to our backs, and me with a mild case of PTSD over my laundry saga and my near-laptop-castastrophe.
But it was a cool, sunny, beautiful day on the Camino.
Breathe, I reminded myself.
A romantic comedy of errors.
Lots and lots of errors.
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