By Patrick Georgi
It’s day 6 of hiking, and it has been interesting to see the differences in the albergues. I thought we’d be sharing one huge room with a hundred people and sleeping on the floor but they’ve all been very nice so far. The beds are always comfortable and they’ve all had pillows, which really surprised me.
One interesting place, and still one of my favorites, was Albergue de Jesus. It was in this really small town called Mazarife. Annie said that the last time she was there, the place had a dirt floor and didn’t have a big grassy courtyard like it does now. It used to be the only albergue around but now there are two others. The only places that seemed to be doing ok in the town were the albergue and the restaurant we ate at. It is just interesting to think that amidst all the economic problems, hostels seem to be doing fine, even though it is so cheap to stay there. It’s cool too that the movie “The Way” (which I haven’t actually seen yet) has created a lot more interest in the Camino and, consequently, more business for hostels and restaurants. It’s good to see these kind of places doing well, especially since the rest of the country is struggling.
Photos: The Camino Hokies, shown here at the Albergue de Jesus, break for class every day and turn in journals written in Spanish.
Left: On the Camino with Patrick.
Friends of the Camino Hokies,
We are into some pretty intense hiking and wifi access is sporadic so please forgive the sparse posts. Days begin early as we are on the El Camino by 7 a.m. The temps get hot and sun screen is being applied liberally! Blisters are not uncommon amongst us but our spirits remain positive. We had an uphill day and tomorrow is a long haul with a steep down. Note that our schedule and distances are located in the klicks (kilometers) category at the top of the page. Buen Camino!
Roman ruins from the first century have been unearthed in Astorga.
Eric Moody checks out exhibits at the Museo Romano.
Julie Lynberg, Jerilyn Izac, Serene Cherian on the Camino at an overlook of Astorga.
Note the terrain. Definitely made for boots.
by Kelsey Brandt
We walked on a very straight, flat road almost the whole day, with farms on both sides. Crops of different varieties were just beginning to sprout. On either side of the road ran irrigation channels providing water for these plants to grow. As I’m studying to be a civil engineer with a focus on water resources, these particularly piqued my nerdy interest. I was surprised to see such a system still in use, since the channels have obviously been in place for quite a while. Although the channels are beautiful and provided a nice backdrop to our walking, completely open irrigation channels are one of the least efficient ways to provide irrigation since the water is very susceptible to evaporation, especially here where the sun is strong. Southern Spain is experiencing a water shortage similar to what’s happening in the southwest US, and as I walked I found myself dreaming big about how I could help ease their water crisis if I could implement an irrigation system that covered the water and reduced evaporation losses. However, it is a difficult balance between historical tradition and new technologies. Those channels have been there for years and are a part of the farming culture of Spain. Someday I hope to be able to study Spain’s water system in depth, including why their water towers are cone shaped and how their water is treated to be even better than water in the US, and to ultimately be a part of finding the balance between tradition and technology so that Spain can continue to have clean water without sacrificing its history. For now though, I just hope tomorrow brings less blisters and more engineering!
By Ashley Cordero:
Today we backpacked through a more agricultural side of the Camino compared to yesterday’s hilly countryside. On either side of the path there was farmland for what seemed to be miles upon miles. We walked by as farmers went about their day tending to their crops and we saw the occasional herd of animals grazing. As we continued to walk there was the occasional small town that would pop up. It made me think about the relationship between the peregrinos (aka pilgrims) and the residents of the small towns that have sprouted up along the Camino during the middle ages. To us tourists/peregrinos, Spain and the Camino are fun, new experiences and a nice vacation from the hustle and bustle of our daily lives. However, for many towns along the Camino, our vacation is their livelihood. Many pilgrim routes acted as a route of trade and commerce years ago. Now, with what seems to be an exponential growth in the use of internet, cars, airplanes, and highways, these routes are less in demand and no longer necessary for trade and commerce. These little towns find themselves fading into the background. The pilgrims that travel the Camino have filled in these economic losses and have come to serve as a primary source of income for these towns. Pilgrims and residents rely on one other for support and strength. I am glad to experience such bonds and relationships with people along the way.
…woodstorks nest atop an old bell tower in Mesarife.
Rachel, a graduate assistant, poses at one of the Camino markers. Scallop shells lead the way to Saint James in Santiago.
EL Camino – Day 1
Past the grand cathedral of Leon, down city streets, and eventually to a dirt road, Day 1 of our Camino trek commenced at daylight. Twelve miles later, we arrived at the small village of Mezarife. Just outside of our destination, I took advantage of a welcoming water stop. The others, thrilled to see our aubergue, went ahead. I changed to sandals, sprawled across an inviting bench, closed my eyes, and mulled over the day. Moments later I was delightfully surprised by a farmer on a burro, leading a large herd of sheep across the Camino – shades of Plantation Road!