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Country Road
An Asturian Country Road

From Cornellana to Bodenaya

From Cornellana, the Camino takes to the high ground again. The point of that is to get you off the N-634. In this area the highway parallels the river and is cut into the side of a ridge most of the way up to Salas; it has no shoulder to speak of. You have to pay close attention to the traffic. On the other hand, the issue with the Camino is that it's another 10.3 km of high, rough, and often wet terrain. With a day of rain  --  sometimes heavy -- to look forward to, I decided that I'd rather take the lesser chance of getting hit by a truck than risk slipping on rocks in the hills and breaking a femur or something. In the first case, the Guardia Civil would soon find me and notify family that I'd succumbed to the Camino. In the less desirable second case, I might lie out on the trail in the rain for days before another pilgrim came by.

As a small added advantage, the highway is shorter by about two kilometers. This was good too, as the rain came down in buckets all morning. I reached Salas before noon, with frequent stops to take shelter from the rain under trees or building eaves .

Rough high ground
Rainy Salas Salas in the Rain Outside the
Salas Casco
The Salas Casco The Salas Albergue
Rough Going in the Hills Salas and Rain Showers Salas under Rain Salas in Summer The Salas Casco The Salas Albergue

Salas is a small, pretty town with fine Renaissance architecture (see photos), but a very dank, grubby Albergue de Peregrinos. I arrived before noon, looked around, got a sello from a bar, and decided I didn't want to give up a half day to stay there. Another incentive to move along was a sign I'd seen in a bar the previous day, telling me that there is a new albergue privado in Bodenaya, just 8 km farther on.

It's a strenuous 8 km, however. From Salas, the Camino takes to the ridge lines above fiercely rushing mountain streams and comes out through areas of new highway construction before reaching the modest village of Bodenaya. Concealed therein is one of the treasures of this Camino -- the albergue of Alejandro Gonzalez. Alès (in the red pullover in the photo) is a young man who had been making a living as a taxi driver in Madrid for 12 years before attempting the Primitivo. As he passed through Bodenaya, he saw a ruined old cow byre and thought that something useful could be done with it. After completing the pilgrimage, he gave up life in Madrid, returned to the village, and arranged to buy the place. He's put in a lot of sweat equity and turned it into a very comfortable stopping point. He does not charge pilgrims for the night, accepting only voluntary donativos. To make a living in this remote rural area, he drives a school bus. We pilgrims provide him company and conversation, both beloved by all good Spaniards.

Æolic Park Bodenaya Village Bodenaya Albergue Alès with pilgrims
Wind Farm above Bodenaya Bodenaya Village Bodenaya's Albergue Alès Gonzales

Tips, Tricks, and Traps

The handsome, whitewashed building in the upper part of the Salas Albergue photo is not the Albergue de Peregrinos. It is the Hogar de Jubilados (Retirees Center), which in contradiction to a posted schedule of opening times, was closed when I arrived there at 11:30. The Albergue itself is in the Hogar's basement area.

No special tricks or traps for this stage. The waymarking is fine, even around the highway construction in the "Æolic Park" photo.

In better weather I would have chosen the waymarked Camino trail over the highway from Cornellana to Salas, but as it was, have no regrets.

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