Camino – Day 23
I began the day in the beautiful heart of the city of Leon, pausing for a moment in the pre-dawn darkness, with Venus shining bright in the eastern sky, to admire the majestic cathedral one final time. And then I set out once more following the Camino westward. I walked for almost 15km before I reached open country, first through urban streets and then past suburban towns and the kinds of light industries that can be found at the edges of cities. Even when I finally reached a more rural landscape I was never out of earshot of traffic noise, and often walking on a path next to a busy highway (although, thankfully, on a path and not simply on the shoulder). But all of that having been said, it was a pleasant morning to walk and it felt good to be moving.
Speaking of moving, friends have been asking how my legs and feet are doing, and I am delighted to report that my body (including my legs and feet) are doing quite well. There is occasionally some mild tiredness, and assorted little twinges that pass through various locations on a very temporary basis. I’ve had two blisters, only one of which was related to walking (the other one was a stubbed toe at an albergue), and both of those are almost completely healed at this point. I feel strong, and I’m in what might be the best shape I have ever been in.
After 21.5km (about four and a half hours of walking, with 15 minutes or so for a bite of tortilla de patata about half way through the morning) I arrived at my intended destination, the village of Villadangos del Paramo, where I am staying at the Albergue Municipal. This particular albergue used to be a school. There are photos on the wall (I’m guessing are at least 50 or 60 years old) that feature former class photos.
There seem to be three basic types of albergues – Municipal (run by the community and often run by volunteers), Parochial (associated with a church – usually some part of the Catholic Church), and Private (privately owned and operated). Sometimes a parochial albergue serves as the Municipal albergue. And whatever the specific type, all of them range in price somewhere between “donativa” (by donation) to about 15 euros, and they run from very basic to relatively fancy.
I arrived at the albergue at about 11:30am and they don’t start receiving peregrinos until 1pm (when they open varies from albergue to albergue). But because I am walking without making reservations, I like to get started early and arrive well before opening time. And the added bonus is that while waiting there is the opportunity to have conversations with other peregrinos, which can be an interesting experience if languages don’t completely match. Today I had the delightful experience of sharing time with a woman from The Netherlands, who speaks very fluent English. We got a bit acquainted while we waited, and then a couple of hours later, while I was up the Calle having a vino tinto and working on this post, she came by and joined me. We shared a really lovely and touching conversation with some real depth. Such is the gift of the Camino.
The beauty of the simple rhythm of this Camino life is that the afternoons and early evenings are open for relaxing and enjoying each moment. It is a rhythm I want to remember and, hopefully, find a way to replicate in some fashion.
Now it is time to go check on my laundry hanging on the line to dry in the sun (after hand washing it). And then more relaxing.
Here is a link to photos from today – https://photos.app.goo.gl/jSTvxAB8UvxxJ1vd9