Since the very start of my journey, there has been someone in the back of my mind.
He was the only person I ever knew who travelled the Camino, and I think his walking of The Way may have been the first time I ever heard about it. His name was Tom Hunt, and he was my secondary school principal.
Mr Hunt was a formidable man... And he didn't suffer fools. Needless to say, the two of us clashed on occasion, largely thanks to my rebellious teenager phase, but he never gave up on me. He had a passion for English literature, and for sports. The astute reader will note my use of the past tense here. Unfortunately, Mr Hunt passed away a couple of years ago. As I understand it, he was aware that he was dying, as was his family. Nobody else knew though, until it happened. I also understand that he knew his possible fate when he undertook the Camino de Santiago all those years ago, in the months leading up to his passing.
And so, as I pass landmark after landmark, town after town, I can't help but wonder - Did he come this way? Did he stand right here? Did he see what I'm seeing now? And also - What must it have been like, standing here, walking here, and knowing that you might have only weeks left to live on this Earth? It's a sobering thought, and one I keep coming back to. I have no answers, of course, but I still can't help but wonder. It crossed my mind more than once today as I continued my journey. The distance to go today was roughly 50km - from Leon all the way to San Justo de la Vega. The terrain was undulating, as ever, but it was more interesting than the last few days of travel - there was a wood to navigate, and greenery to behold. Unfortunately, it did rain a lot throughout the day.
Since I had no pannier for my bike, I made one out of a raincoat... But thankfully I had brought a poncho as well, so I threw that on. It is a great big orange monstrosity, to be honest, and it made me feel like a plastic, billowing, neon bag. It also made me feel like a total twat. But a dry twat, and that's the main thing I suppose. Before long I arrived at my destination - Hostal Juli in San Justo de la Vega, a quaint little town on the outskirts of the city of Astorga.
No sooner was I in the door than the heavens opened up. A thunderstorm rolled right over than village, lashing rain and slapping hailstones off the ground. The driveway outside became a fast flowing river, and not man nor beast was to be seen out in it. The thunder shook the sky and the lightning forked for as far as the eye could see. It was a scene from the bible - an Old Testament storm come to wash mankind from the Earth.
And then, as quick as it had come, it was gone. The clouds parted and the sun shone, and all the little cats and birds came out to play again. It was... Weird. You don't get that in Ireland. If it rains, it rains for the day. And the day is dull. This... This was a new beast altogether. I was in awe of it, and of its power. And I thought to myself - did Tom Hunt ever see a storm such as this? Did he too stare up into the angry sky over the district of Castille y Leon and think on the wrath of nature? Perhaps he did.
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