Day 16: Foncebadón
We walked 15.7 miles from Astorga to Foncebadón
Finally a hike! Our day ended with the most significant elevation change in a week or two. It felt amazing. The mountain breeze was cool and the views were beautiful. At the top of the mountain, a dirt road led us to a small village with just a few buildings. Having skimmed mostly-positive reviews, we decided to stay at Monte Irago Hostel. It cost only 8 euros per bed and we were instructed to "choose any bed that looks free". Without a doubt this was the most loosely run hostel we had stayed at yet. So inevitably, I was skeptical, but tried not to show it since I wasn't sure how much better the other hostels would be. We already had paid and started walking up the stairs before I realized it was far from the type of hostel you want your mother to stay at. On the third floor (aka the attic), we found two mattresses (yes, mattresses) on the floor next to each other. I asked my Mom, "are you okay with this?" half hoping she'd say no and order us a helicopter to the closest hotel. She replied "ya, are you?". So I followed her lead.
In retrospect, when planning our trek, I warned my skeptical mother that we might stay in hostels with 200 people per room or even sleep on mattresses on the floor. I was obviously exaggerating and had never slept in such hostels during my travels, but wanted to prepare her for the worst. As a result, Mom was totally not phased by the hippie hostel on the top of the mountain.
The best part about our hostel was that they offered free yoga at 6pm. My mom and I, along with ten other pilgrims, spread out in a circle in a pasture overlooking the valley below. We were instructed to "watch out for goat poop" as we unrolled our tattered mats. As we stretched and meditated, horses frolicked through the fields around us. It was pretty magical.
It took us until we reached the top of the mountain to realize we had almost no money and there wouldn't be an ATM until the next day. We spent our cash on our hostel and were thrilled to find one restaurant that accepted credit cards. There, we shared a spectacular chorizo and cheese sandwich- a post-hike classic. At dinner, my mom was really excited about the hamburger the waitress recommended. Having traveled a bit, I've learned that no burger will ever be as good as one from the United States. I was right. The burger we shared was brown/purple and looked like a meat that should never be consumed. Still, I tried it and it tasted like bad meatloaf. I was starving and I ate most of my half, but felt pretty sick all night.
A Trace of Grace
Notes from a trekking Mama
I was not expecting ending our day on the top of a mountain, never mind at a hippyish hostel where yoga was offered in a field with horses strolling by. Talk about the perfect place to be reminded to stop and breathe!! Now if I can just sleep as well as the other 15 people around me...