Madrid Camino Day 8 – Asuncion to Coca

Sat, May 13, 2017

Ola de Coca!

The Camino Madrid is well marked – and sometimes enthusiastically!

Short day, only 10 km from Asuncion mainly because Coca is the last stop for food etc. for the next 25 km and I am not quite ready to take on a 35 km day. Soon enough though, I am sure.

Nice morning in Asuncion. Slept like a log. When I went to return the albergue key to a local shop, I ran into my amigo Ruben, who led me to the best bakery – Pasteleria Rosana – for supplies. Word had travelled that I was the Canadian peregrino and I was greeted warmly and given free pastries and warmly escorted to the town limits – being shown the sights along the way. I was hugged and my hand was shaken and much Buen Camino was expressed. It was so wonderful to experience such warmth and generosity from strangers, freely given. There are many lessons to be learned by this kind of behaviour.

My walk to Coca was through more pine forests (the sea of pines according to a locally born poet) and was quiet and uneventful save for more wild rabbits. Also had a few visits with horses who often come wandering over to their fence line for a scratch.

One of Coca’s claims to fame – a Roman Emperor!

Coca is famous for being the birthplace of Roman Emperor Theodosius who was basically the last emperor of a united Roman Empire and considered responsible for making Christianity the official religion of Rome.

How about that.

There are some ruins here and a famous castle – the Castillo de Coca – built by the Moors for the Christians.  Also a remarkable church with a reputed hidden treasure and many an homage to pilgrims en route to Santiago dating back 900 years – putting to rest the notion that the Camino Madrid is a recent construct.

Castillo de Coca – a.k.a. The House of Alba

So I am coming out of the grocery store and an older woman runs over talking excitedly in Spanish and gesticulating wildly for me to follow her. I do because she keeps saying ‘peregrino’ and has hold of my sleeve. Around the corner is her house. She runs inside and as she does, another man, obviously a pilgrim himself, appears from down the road. She calls him over, and proceeds to stamp our pilgrim passports with the official Camino stamp of the town of Coca. The other guy- a Turk from the US- speaks Spanish and translates. He tells me she now wants to record where we are from. He tells her he’s from Turkey and living in the United States, she makes a face like she’s eaten a lemon. I tell her I’m from Canada and her face lights up. “All of Europe loves Canada!” she says, shaking my hand. The Turk agrees with her, shrugging sheepishly. Makes me proud.