Stage 18 – Colunga to San Salvador de Valdedios monastery

October 19 – Sunday

Such a blessed day! I had a decent night’s sleep, didn’t wake up to street noises and woke feeling pretty refreshed. I set out in the chilly morning before the sun hit the valley and got the chance to see the fog burn off in the lowest parts of the valley and the sun slowly start to light up everything.

After a couple of hours, I came upon a small group of people outside a little church. Turned out I was just in time for Mass in one of the oldest churches on the Norte! Built in the 900s, it still had some original old paintings on the walls. I got a special stamp for my pilgrim credential and then ate a snack on the picnic table across the way after Mass.

It is a bit sad, however, that I am often the youngest person there, by far! Petra was with me last week in Santander and there was one guy about my age last night. But mostly elderly people. No families, no babies. A bit understandable in the small towns, but sad to see in the bigger cities where I do see families and children out and about.

From Mass, I headed down a muddy trail, almost got lost, and ended up in Sebrayo just past noon. A very friendly man told me about the albergue, where I hoped to find water but was not planning to stop long. He also told me about the route ahead and how far it was to the next city.

I came upon the albergue and saw Tash and Vittorio at the picnic tables outside! They had ended up at the same albergue last night and knew I was somewhere behind them because they had seen my bag in the porch of the church. I figured at least Tash was ahead of me because iChat seen fresh walking pole tracks on the muddy trail.

We walked the rest of the way together, stopping in Villaviciosa for a coffee and some grocery shopping. Fruit is heavy in a bag, so I try to buy it fresh as I need it and not stuck up on too much at a time.  Villaviciosa is the apple capital of Asturias or even Spain, so there were apple things and cider distilleries all over. We didn’t stop for cider while we were still walking, though!

The Caminos split sometime later, with a cement marker and painted words and arrows on the street. So we are officially on the Primitivo! Less than 400 kilometers to go!

We all ended up making it to the monastery, which no longer houses monks, but is still pretty cool. We are the only three here and had an awesome, though quite leisurely and drawn out (the one bartender had to do everything), dinner. Totally ready for a good night’s sleep. Tomorrow is either a really short day, or a fairly long one, with no albergues in between.

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