Camino Primitivo-Day 1 Oviedo to Escamplero
The start of the Camino Primitivo is right from the Cathedral. The plaque above indicates the direction for both the Primitivo and the Norte routes. It reads:
In the beginning of the 9th Century, from this basilica of Saint Salvador, The Asturian monarch Alfonso II The Chaste, began the first of the pilgrimages to Compostela to view the tomb of James, The Greater and there, he founded in his honor the first basilica.
This plaque refers to the fact that the Primitivo is considered to be the first pilgrimage route to the tomb of the Apostle St. James. The Cathedral in Santiago de Compostela was founded by King Alfonso. Refer to my post on the history of the pilgrimage here: http://www.musingsfromthelastfrontier.com/pilgrimage-camino-de-santiago/
Our first stage is Oviedo to Escamplero. We got a late start and didn’t get walking until 9:00am. The walk through the city that early on a Sunday was quiet and the people we saw were the dog walkers and a couple of pilgrims.
Today’s stage was intentionally short to give us time to recover from jet lag and get our walking legs warmed up. This is the hardest of the Caminos because of all the elevation that is gained, and lost. Our destination for the day was the sleepy village of Escamplero. Distance is about 16 Km.
The only issue we encountered was that it got hot pretty fast and within a couple of hours we were walking in 75F degree heat. We took it slow and stopped a couple of times for me to take pictures and make some wardrobe changes. I switched to a t-shirt instead of a button down hiking shirt and rolled my pants up to Capri length.
Our first stamp in our credencial (pilgrim passport) was given to us at the Cathedral in Oviedo the day prior. Our first stamp after starting to walk was at a tiny chapel in the village of Lampajúa, that is undergoing restoration and was closed. But we could look through the bars on the window. La Capilla del Carmen (The chapel of St. Carmen). Here we met our first fellow pilgrims. A group of 3 men and a woman from Utah. We walked with them for a while discussing the impending extinction of humans from the planet and wondering if culling the heard by a few billion could save us.
About 1 km or so down the road, we stopped at a public fountain at an old 12 Century church (Santa Maria de Lloriana) in the village of Lloriana and refilled our water supply. We lingered long enough that the Utah group moved on. Then we happily continued on our way alone. We met up with them again at the only bar along this stage. Stayed for about 20 minutes and enjoyed a cold glass of mineral water. By then I was in desperate need of sunblock which I had forgotten to apply.
From there it was another 3 1/2 Km to Escamplero. The walk would have been a piece of cake except for the intensive heat, especially on the long uphill into the village. We found the albergue almost empty, and hoped it would stay that way since it was already 2pm by the time we arrived. No such luck. Pilgrims were streaming in all the way until 6:30pm and it was completely full by the time we went to bed. This albergue is extremely basic and is an old school house. Triple decker bunks, cold showers, and barely enough room for all of us to lay our gear out. It was not indicative of the rest of the albergues that we would encounter and I knew that. But I could see how this place could scare certain types of people out of staying in municipal albergues.
There were pilgrims from many nationalities here but we were the only Americans. People from the Canary Islands in Spain, a group of Italians, Lithuania, Bavaria, and a couple who only speaks Russian and are from St. Petersburg. I’m not sure about the late arrivals. They ended up bunking in the common area downstairs I think. There is a nice restaurant about a 5 minute walk away. It’s the only place to get food. We bought jamón and cheese from Oviedo so we just made sandwiches that evening and ate outside.
It was interesting sleeping and showering in such tight quarters with complete strangers. It felt very natural and safe. We were all trying to find a common language to communicate in. We all plan to be walking by 6:30 AM to avoid the heat. Looks like we are all headed to Cornellana which is about 25 Km away.
No cell coverage or WiFi here.