Les Miserables

Proverbs 15:15 A miserable heart means a miserable life; a cheerful heart fills the day with song.

Day 26 — 12.09 Miles — Leon to Villadangos, May 23. The walk out of Leon was on hard pavement for about 4-5 miles. We also had empty stomachs. One cafe was open on the way out of town however their tortillas (omelets) had not been delivered when we stopped. The first open cafe was in La Virgen del Camino. We walked for 2.5 hours for food.

The Meseta has ended so there are trees. Cottonwoods are everywhere and so is the cottonwood pollen. Ron walks happily along through the falling cottonwood snow. He is oblivious. I walk along miserable and sneezing with itchy eyes, throat and runny nose. The Allegra that traveled from home with us is gone so we stopped in a pharmacy and purchased 40 Spanish allergy pills. The cost was only about $4.00! The pills help however being outside for extended periods each day somewhat offsets what the pills can do. It is a relief to arrive at our hostel and jump into the shower. A shower helps to wash the pollen off.

Evidently, Ron was not totally oblivious today. He said that he was having random thoughts and observations as I was miserable. So his thoughts were……..there are numerous cars in Spain that we do not see at home. They are Peugeot, Citroen, Opel and Renault. BMW’s and Mercedes are numerous also. Pick ups are not seen very often. Commercial trucks are all cabovers. The majority of commercial trucks are new or nearly new. One cannot get dinner in Spain until after 8 p.m. unless you eat a peregrino meal. Finding someone in Spain who speaks English is difficult. If you get lost in a city, simply look lost. Someone will try to help even if they do not speak English. Street signs when they can be found are placed on the sides of buildings about 10 to 12 feet up. In small villages, streets are for cars and people. Cars park on streets, sidewalks and several combinations of the two. Ron was really busy while we were walking!

More Bodegas / Hobbit Houses

The people walking with us were all new today. A group of college students from Missouri passed us. They were moving fast and appeared energetic. We talked for about 5 minutes with them. They had just started their Camino walk in Leon. They were familiar with Boise State….. BSU emblems are on our hats.

Astorga is our goal for tomorrow with an 18 mile hike. We might be a little tired at the end of the day. Per our guide book, we have walked 303 miles. Per our Garmin watches, we have walked more. Buen Camino. Sharon and Ron

Leon, Spain

Matthew 18:20 For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.

Day 24 — 9.27 Miles — Puente Villarente to Leon, May 21.   Todays’ walk was under ten miles so we decided to leave about 9:30 in the morning.  The path was gravel and ran parallel to a road.  The fields were quickly replaced with the suburbs and the noise from suburbs.  Commercial and Industrial buildings were now on either side of The Way.  We could no longer hear birds or the sound of leaves moving in the trees. 

The temperature was staring to climb just before we reached our hostel.  We had about one block to walk.  We turned the corner and there sits Toby at a table having a beer.  He was waiting for his room to be ready and just happened to be staying at the same hostel as us.  Our hostel last night in Puente Villarente was also his choice.  We did not see him there as he went into the village to eat. About five minutes after we sat down, Amelie came limping by.  We invited her to join us.  She and Toby have not met while walking.  She was booked into the same hostel as Toby and us.  In a town the size of Leon, it was quite a coincidence that we would all be staying at the same location. 

After we were settled in our room, we walked down the street to the Museum of San Marcos. The museum was housed in a cathedral.  Documentaries on the historic buildings in Spain do not come close to show casing the buildings’ beauty and history.  Cross #28 was hung around the neck of a bronze pilgrim statue outside the museum.

Day 25—Over 5 Miles of Walking in Town—Rest/Tour Day in Leon, 5/22

Per information on the city map, “Leon was founded on the site of the Roman camp Hispania once occupied by the Roman Legio VII Gemina.  Leon’s history goes back over 1,000 years.  It has been subjected to barbarian and Muslim invasions. In the 10th century, it witnessed the emergence of the monarchy and nobility of northwestern Spain.”  

The rhythm in Spain is drastically different than the US.  Commerce does not start until about 9:30 or 10 a.m. We had a leisurely breakfast, unfolded a city map and headed toward the Cathedral de Santa Maria de Leon.  We back tracked following the yellow arrows as the Camino also takes the pilgrims past the church.  We started across a small square, there was Toby sitting outside a cafe having coffee.  We chatted for a few minutes then proceeded to the Cathedral de Santa Maria de Leon. Just before we entered the cathedral, a nun walked by.  She was given cross #29.  The smile on her face was beautiful after she understood the cross had traveled from Los Estados Unidos to her.

A magazine about the cathedral contained a comment that states how one feels after visiting this historic cathedral.  “Leon’s Cathedral is for me that piece of history that every day transforms into art, hiding architectural mysteries and seducing all those who enter.” We wish our pictures would do it justice.  The cathedral is still in use for church services.  A service was being held in one of the smaller side sanctuaries.  One should remember however that the building is not the church.  The people are the church.

After leaving the church, Rachel who ate dinner with us in the Puente Villarente stopped to talk. We talked to Ed and Melissa also. They were in a store across from the cathedral when we walked in.

We have only have about thirteen more days on The Way.  If all goes well, our  planned arrival in Santiago is June 4.  Tomorrow’s destination is Villadangos del Paramo.  Buen Camino.  Sharon and Ron.

The Beet

Genesis 11:5-7 But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower the people were building. The Lord said, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.”

Day 23 — 16.93 Miles — El Burgo Ranero to Puente Villarente, May 23.  The Way continues to be straight and sometimes narrow.  It parallels a paved road the majority of the walk now.   We have wondered if being lost in one’s thoughts means we will miss seeing something special along The Way.  I think not.  We can look up and see normal views that for the first time look special.  We came across another memorial marker on The Way.  Cross #26 was placed on the marker.  

We have occasionally walked by a German couple or they have walked by us.  We exchange our “Buen Camino’s” in passing.  We do not speak German and they do not speak English. On one particular occasion, we came upon them stopped in the path looking at something on the ground.  As we approached the man held out his held excitedly and said something.  All we heard was beet! He held a very large dead bug in his hand.  It was either a huge fly or a huge bee.  Per Google translate, what sounded like beet to us was biene. We smiled, paused to look and say bee.  They smiled and said yah beet!  Buen Camino!

Later in the morning, we saw the German couple ahead of us again.  This time they had walked off the path across a ditch into a field.  The man saw us approaching and started yelling excitedly again.  This time the word sounded like “ork”.  They are fellow pilgrims so we crossed the ditch and walked into the the field. Was there was a problem?  The woman was taking a picture of something on the ground as we approached.  The man kept saying “ork” but then said what sounded like “id”.   Orchid!   The field had small wild orchids growing in it amongst the weeds.  We took a picture which made the man smile.  We smiled back.  All of us said Buen Camino and we were off on our separate walks.  

Wild Orchids in a Field

As the path entered the town of Puente Villarente, a rock carved with 1st John 2:1-6 had been placed along The Way.  Cross #27 was hung over the stone. 

Cross #27

Our lodging for the night was in another hostel.  We have been able to book lodging in hostels that offer a single room for two people.  The room is more expensive than a shared room with bunk beds but the expense is well worth the cost.  The cost is minimal at about $40.00 per night.  The majority of hostels serve a peregrino (pilgrim) dinner and a small breakfast in the mornings.  The portion sizes at dinner are large.  The first course choices are salad, spaghetti or soup.  The second course one has a choice between chicken, fish and pork. The desert choices are fruit, ice cream, flan or rice pudding.  The large portions are devoured by everyone.  Leftovers do not exist at peregrino dinners.  All dinners include bread and wine. The portion sizes seem small to us. We have both lost weight. 

Two new people entered our Way today. Emily from Denmark walked past us very fast and limping. We passed her later and she passed us again. Two surgeries on her knee were causing her to have problems. She is only in her 20’s. Rachel ate dinner with us. She is from New York. She told us during dinner about a nightmare hostel story that was spreading through the Camino hotline. She had talked with Toby!

Leon is our destination tomorrow! Ah….rest and relaxation. Buen Camino. Sharon and Ron

Hansel and Gretel

Luke 2:18 And He said, “See to it that you are not misled for many will come in My name, saying ‘I am He,’ and, ‘The time is near’ Do not go after them.

Day 22 — 10.97 Miles — Sahagún to El Burgo Ranero, May 19. The walk was short today.  How can a walk that is over 10 miles be considered short? The Way continues to be on flat, straight, gravel paths.  The scenery is monotonous.  It is easy to understand how this part of the Camino is thought to test one mentally.   We walk long distances lost in thoughts that wander through our heads as we are wandering through the countryside. I wonder what we miss as we are walking lost in thought.  Fortunately, a pilgrim’s memorial marker that was along the path caught our attention.  Cross #24 was left on the marker.  Toby walked by us after the cross was hung on the memorial. He said seeing the cross made him think of the story about Hansel and Gretel. He saw the cross and knew we were in front of him.

Cross #24

We arrived in El Burgo Ranero.  The Camino path took us past the church.  Other pilgrims were looking up at the church. There were a number of storks with nests on top of the steeple.  We continued to our hostel and noticed an elderly woman  sitting outside in front of a house. Her walker was in front of her. She appeared to be people watching.  No one was acknowledging that she was there.  Her loneliness called to me.  She was given Cross #25. 

As we are checking into our hostel, Toby arrives.  We seem to be on the same schedule and making reservations at the same hostels.  Later that afternoon, Kathy walked by with her sister Karen.  Karen had flown in from Oklahoma to finish the walk with Kathy.  All of us plan to take an extra day in Leon to rest.  We all wonder if our paths will cross in such a big city.  

Our next stop is Puente Villarente.  Leon is on the horizon!  Buen Camino.  Sharon and Ron

The Shire?

Hebrews 3:4 For every house is build by someone but God is the builder of everything.

Day 21 — 10.97 Miles — Ledigos to Sahagún, May 18.  Today started with a good breakfast at the hostel.  They served more than toast!.  We had Spanish omelets which are called tortillas.  Ed and Melissa from Tennessee ate with us.  The temperature was only 36 degrees with a wind so it was cool again.  Cool is better than hot. 

In the village of Moratinos, there were hobbit dwellings that looked like houses in The Shire from the  “Lord of the Rings” books.  Ed, Melissa and Toby walked in the cafe just as we were leaving to go have a look at The Shire.  Of course, a yellow arrow pointed The Way and the path took us past The Shire.  We had a good laugh when we read the sign in front of The Shire dwellings.  It said, “No, the hobbits don’t live here.” The dwellings were actually bodegas.  An explanation is below.  

It felt good to reach Sahagún for two reasons.  It was chilly and Sahagún is the official halfway point of the Camino.  We calculated our mileage at 275.7.  The halfway point is computed as a straight line and we are not walking a straight line so our mileage equals more than halfway. After checking into our hostel, we walked to the Monastery de Santa Cruz/Museum to purchase our official certificate verifying that we have walked to the halfway point.  The certificate is beautiful however it is written in Latin.  A translation was provided with the certificate. 

Andy from the UK who we met in Ledigos was at the museum to get his certificate.  He also was staying at our hostel that night.  

In the morning, we are headed to El Burgo Ranero.  Buen Camino.  Sharon Ron

The Yellow Arrow

Psalm 91:5 You will not be afraid of the terror by night, or of the arrow that flies by day.

Day 20 — 15.34 Miles — Carrión de Los Condes to Ledigos, May 17.  Today was cold and windy.  Down jackets, gloves and ear warmers were necessary.  The wind was coming at us from our right side.  The side wind was easier to walk in than the head wind that was blowing at us last week.  

This section of the Camino is actually over a Roman road.  The Roman road was no longer visible as it had been covered with dirt and gravel.  The road was straight and in the middle of crop fields.  There were not many trees for wind breaks.  No cafes or towns were along this section of the Camino. There was a food truck however about 5 miles along the road.  We were like horses heading to the barn…..no stopping, just walking. 

Stone Placed at the Beginning of the 12 K Roman Path

A few stops were made to take pictures.  Only two pictures were taken of the scenery.  The remainder were taken of different Camino markers that show pilgrims “The Way”.  A very lovely color was chosen to mark “The Way”.  Yellow is the color of the Camino.  Any other color arrow is ignored except green.  A green arrow indicates an alternate route.  When the trail takes an unknown turn, the yellow arrow that points The Way could be on the road, a building, a light post or a sign.  

At one place, the trail crossed a highway and started down a trail on the other side of the road. We came upon another rock with a scripture verse inscribed on it.  Cross #23 was hung over the rock.  The inscription said Matthew 5:1-20 which is the Beatitudes.  I wondered if every pilgrim can find himself in one of the verses. 

Matthew 5:1-20

Different stone markers began to appear along the path as we approached Ledigos. They paralleled the road. We saw about twenty. Each one said “Mort” on it. A Google search, revealed that mort means sudden death. The stone markers are probably the equivalent of white crosses in the US that mark where someone died along a highway.

We stopped in Ledigos and checked into a nice hostel.  A hostel is always nice when one has a private room.  Toby checked in after us.  We also saw Ed and Melissa from Tennessee for the second time. I met Andy from the UK at the washing machine and Ron met him while having a beer with Toby.  We had a nice dinner together. 

The walk for tomorrow is to Sahagún.  Buen Camino.  Sharon and Ron

Camino Green Belt

John 4:14 But whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.

Day 19 — 16.71 Miles —Boadilla del Camino to Carrión de Los Condes, May 16. Today was very pleasant.  We walked along the Canal de Castille until it ended outside of Frómista. 

An alternate trail started just after Población de Campos. The temperature was still hot so we decided to follow the Camino “Green Belt”.  The “Green Belt” was approximately 1/2 mile longer.  It was a 1/2 mile that was well worth the walk.   If we had stayed on the main Camino trail, the day would have been hot and uncomfortable as the main trail paralleled a highway.  There were no trees on the main trail.  The optional “Green Belt” route was shaded. Rio Ucieza was on our right and fields of wheat were on our left.  This section of the Camino was approximately 7 miles long.  The path meandered and the birds serenaded us for the entire seven miles. The cottonwoods had left their covering of “snow” on the ground.  The sound of sneezing added to the sound of the birds.  Thank goodness for Allegra allergy pills.

Tomorrow we will walk to Ledigos. Buen Camino. Sharon and Ron