We made our way out from Hospital de Órbigo with the sky threatening an early rain. We wound through beautiful open areas of varying landscapes, and as we approached a hill section drew a sharp breath at the skyline of a city that lay just ahead. Astorga was a planned rest point in our guide, but because we were ahead of schedule, it fell early in our days route.
A few hours later and we were pulling in to find the streets lined with market vendors, fruit stands, and open backed trucks selling fresh ham or cheese. Happily we ooed and awed over the city’s offerings. Despite being impressed by the vibrant fruits and vegetables, we somehow ended up making our first purchases at the pastries table. . . go figure. We walked a bit more and, after walking by a palace and cathedral, decided this quaint little city warranted far more than a simple walk through.
We found a quick room at a nearby hostel and dropped our things as raindrops began to spatter our window. We each sampled a bite of our treats, and I immediately turned to Jeanie, a mere noise the most I could manage to express the taste filling my mouth. “Jeanie, taste this!” She took a piece and went weak at the knees. “We have to go back!” And so, as the sound of raindrops grew heavier, and travelers and vendors alike rushed inside, we headed back out in a crazed search for “our donut lady.”
The full streets were rapidly vacating and our pulses quickened as storefronts closed and van doors shut, resigned to selling their goods at a later and dryer time. We wandered the streets for about ten minutes, unable to find our lady. Littered wrappers or ties were all that were left in the flooding plazas and we slowed our pace. Just as we realized how silly we looked, we rounded a corner, and there she was, welcoming back her smitten Americans travelers.
We gushed something about the best pastries we had ever tasted and soon we walked away with a little baggie of four more doughy rings, of which the
most accurate description I can manage is “sweet snow atop delicate layers of soft melt away magic (aka pastry).”
I share this story with you for a few reasons. First, there have been a number of our Camino friends who, now knowing Jeanie has diabetes, have reacted in surprise when finding her enjoying an afternoon or post dinner treat. “But I thought you couldn’t have sugar!” they say. Time and again I have witnessed Jeanie respond with patience as she explains that she can really have whatever she wants, it is mainly a matter of accounting for what she is eating through her insulin dosage. Jeanie has fully embraced the tastes available on this amazing trail, from cheeses to croissants to a fresh churro or two, she believes life is to be experienced. And on lucky days in Spain, an out of this world donut is a part of that.
In no way are we advocating a steady Camino diet of pastries to get us through our days. But Jeanie does want people to understand that diabetes does not mean no sweets or treats or fun. It is not a list of rules and denials, it is about working with your body and its needs to enjoy life in a way that will work for your body in a given moment and in the hours ahead. At the most basic level, it simply means to keep your thinking cap on as you enjoy! So tonight, join us for a tasty treat . . . after you walk 15 miles of course!