A Pilgrim Tale: day twenty-two

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The rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain. And the hills. And irrigation channels and wildflowers growing in ditches. In small towns and big cities. On men riding bicycles. On allees of poplars. On pilgrims.

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It comes strong early, but by the time we reach Astorga in the afternoon, it is mostly mist. Astorga is a quaint, old city with winding, labyrinthine streets. The Bishop’s Palace, another Gaudi offering, is just around the corner from our albergue. It is the quintessential marriage of refinement and whimsy.

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And there is a civil building with figures on the clock who come out and hammer a bell to ring the hour. Mike and I walk back at 4:00 to see it.

Our albergue, San Javier, is in an historic building in the charming old quarter. A stellar location. The building has nice bones, with stone arches, heavy wooden beams, and a fireplace (especially welcome on this chilly day). But it is a bit of a run down affair. EVERYTHING creaks. The floors. The beds. It would actually be funny if it didn’t make it almost impossible to sleep. OK, it’s still kinda funny. But the beds are tight, there is no room for storage, and the laundry sink is out of doors with only cold water. Brrr.

We buy cheese and bread, olives and wine, and picnic in the common area near the fire. We stuff newspaper in our boots, hoping against hope that they will dry before morning, when we will walk back out into the rain. Again.

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Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself. And that no heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dreams, because every second of the search is a second’s encounter with God and with eternity.

~Paulo Coelho