Madrid Camino Day 8 – Asuncion to Coca

Sat, May 13, 2017

Ola de Coca!

The Camino Madrid is well marked – often enthusiastically!

A short day today, 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.

I had a nice morning in Asuncion. Slept like a log. When I went to return the albergue key, I ran into my amigo Ruben, who led me to the best bakery in town – Pasteleria Rosana – for supplies. Word had spread about me, the Canadian peregrino, and I was greeted warmly. They also loaded me up with free pastries! Ruben walked me to the outskirts, showing me the sights along the way. With an embrace and a Buen Camino, I was off again. It was so wonderful to experience such kindness and generosity from strangers, freely given.

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 scores of wild rabbits. I had a few more visits with horses who jogged over to the fence line for a visit and 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. Which puts to rest the notion that the Camino Madrid is a modern construct.

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

So I am coming out of the grocery store and a woman runs over talking excitedly in Spanish and gesticulating wildly for me to follow her. I do, because she has hold of my sleeve. Around the corner is her house. She runs inside, and as she does, another pilgrim appears 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 for me. He says the woman 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. Her face lights up. “All of Europe loves Canada!” she says, shaking my hand. The Turk agrees with her, shrugging. Makes me proud.