Today was a day for sadness and excitement. I was excited because the Magician and I were only two days from Cruz de Ferro (a large cross). At the cross you could leave a stone you carried all the way from home here (to represent the burden you would leave on the pilgrimage). The one I had with me I’d actually picked up a few months before in Costa Rica. It had the strips of a tiger on it, representing to me, that if I wanted something badly enough, even I could change my stripes. The day I decided to walk 1,000 miles on the Camino, it was just after one of the last times I ever saw my ex- husband (19th June), and I realised, nothing had changed for me. And I didn’t want that. I didn’t want to come out the end of a divorce (which came as a complete surprise for me), being the same person. At this point I accepted the main reason I was getting divorced was because I became a workaholic (which caused a lot of other consequences). What I’d come to accept whilst being on the Camino though, with the love and encouragement of the Magician (and all my Camino family), was that I also became a workaholic because being at work was an escape from the life I had at home with my ex- husband. I would be saying goodbye symbolically here. And moving on with my life.
Our group set out from Villar de Mozarife, which after it there is a bridge called the Puente de Orbigo. This bridge has a wonderful story, where Suero de Quiñones staged a Passo honoso in 1434. This year was a holy year, which meant there was a significant increase in the number of Pilgrims, than other years. Over a number of days, this a nobleman (with 10 friends) defeated 166 knights who would try to cross the bridge, so that he could ‘free’ himself from the iron necklet he wore round his neck every Thursday (which represented the love he had for a noblewoman). This event is still celebrated every June.
The sadness from this day, came from the knowledge that we would be saying goodbye to my Little Sister and the Texan. They wanted to walk slower, and with our flights booked, the Magician and I had to keep to a deadline of distances now. When we got to the late afternoon we said a very tearful goodbye to them both, on the bridge of Puente de Orbigo. It felt like a fitting goodbye, at a place famous for love. Although I was certain the Texan wouldn’t be fighting hundreds of knights to free himself from my Little Sister (I was pretty sure it would be the other way around from watching the way they gazed at each other).
The Magician and I tried to walk quickly, but it was late in the afternoon and there was a long distance in front of us. We then proceeded to get lost in muddy fields, before then getting back to the Camino which was right next to a horribly busy main road. Walking along the road into twilight we eventually got to Astorga. This beautiful town in the 18th and 19th century became the centre of the chocolate industry, as previously cocoa from oversea colonies came through Astorga from the Galacian ports.
Here the Magician showed me a side I’d never seen before. I unfortunately picked up an infection so I had to go to the hospital. Here he cuddled me, spoke in broken Spanish and French till he got me in front of a doctor and filled up with antibiotics. He then tucked me into bed, made sure I had food and water, before he even thought about looking after himself. To top it all off, he tried to pay for me seeing the doctor etc etc. When he left me to sleep I stared into the darkness remembering the numerous times I’d ended up in the hospital with minor operations for my back. Left to get myself too and from there alone, because my ex- husband didn’t care enough to make sure I was ok. I started to realise neither situation was normal. My ex- husband evidently didn’t actually care about me, and the Magician… well… put me first. Not something I think I can ever get used to (and I don’t want to ever take it for granted).