This blog is a record of my observations, experiences and crazy thoughts about my 800 kilometer pilgrimage across northern Spain: the Camino de Santiago de Compostela (April-May 2009).
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Day 23 - Ledigos - Wednesday, 13 May 2009
Carrion de las Condes -> Ledigos = 24K (382K to go!)
Today I knocked out 24K. I had hoped to reach Terradillos de los Templarios, but stopped in Ledigos. The first 17-18K was long; no villages, flat and shadeless. I started walking at 0640, after breakfast in a local bar and arrived in Calzadilla de las Cuerza by 1000. I pressed on for another 6K and stopped at Ledigos, hoping to find tortilla. No tortilla available in this deserted, rural bar. As I sat there I realized my feet hurt and decided to simply call it a day and check in. I could simply relax and rest a bit and press on tomorrow. I called Mark and asked him to contact a Christian Science Practitioner for help me with my feet.
The terrain is flat, but challenges most pilgrims. Just before Ledigos I watched a grown man fall to his knees and weep at the pain he was experiencing in his legs. The sealed roads are as bad as the rocky ones.
The albergue is basic, a bit run down actually, but it is sunny and warm and birds are singing. I am fatigued I guess. I did not sleep well last night (I shared the room with a snorer/farter who also spent an hour in the middle of the night rummaging through his pack while wielding a flashlight and muttering to himself in French. He left the hallway door open when he banged around in the toilet adjacent to our room – not complaining, just observing!)
At 1500 I munched down the sandwich I made yesterday (turkey and cucumbers) and soaked up the sun a bit. I showered and washed my hair (using a bar of soap). The breeze is drying my hair.
Earlier I walked around town a bit…it is small. There are no shops. The only sounds are the chatter of wild birds, bees humming and the occasional crowing of a rooster who lives behind closed doors on the featureless Plaza Mayor. I can hear the prairie winds rush past my ears. It is so quiet here. Not a car on the streets nor any people. It is siesta time, but even in the evenings most of these tiny towns are devoid of life – like movie sets after the film crew has departed. They are like the small, dying towns in the heartland of the USA. The young people are long gone and only aged parents people these villages. Finally I hear a dog bark. No cats in evidence here and no flowers in this harsh small town.
I am hungry for a novel or good conversation.
It would be lovely to pace my walking in such a way that I could stop for a leisurely lunch at around 1400 and then continue walking later in the day. Unfortunately, the albergues fill up rapidly. So pilgrims tend to walk early (to avoid the heat) and to stop for the day at around 1300-1400. This leaves time for laundering clothes, journaling, getting supplies and dining.
I love walking early, under the setting moon watching the purple skies lighten and hearing birds starting their daily chorus. The first stop is at 0800 most days. I down a sweet café con leche and toast with butter and marmalade. I stop again for late breakfast at about 1000. By then I have walked about 4 hours (12-20K under my belt already). I am not in a hurry. I love mornings and I walk along briskly and happily most days.
It is hard to imagine walking through this region after 1300. The sun drains me and any humidity would make it even more challenging. How do the summer pilgrims survive?
I am, frankly, ready for a break. I am a bit worn out and tired of the 24/7 public nature of pilgrim life. I should check into a hostel and treat myself to some privacy and a day of leisure.
In just 19 days I will be in Madrid (or on my way there). I’ll begin my journey back to life – back from the setting sun.
I struck up conversation with a young couple from Finland. They are tired and angry with one another…chafing. They ask me to listen as they speak, to be a referee. They break up as I watch. She puts him in a taxi cab – it is like a scene from a “tele-novela” (soap opera). I spend the remainder of the day and evening listening to the young woman sorting out her feelings.
As I wearily crawl into my bunk, I hear the young woman, crouched in a corner, weeping forlornly as she whispers into her cell phone. What will the next chapter of their lives be like? Will I ever know?
In April 2009, I began my 500-mile trek across the rocky paths and mountains of northen Spain. I finished my walk on the the ancient Way of St James (the Camino de Santiago de Compostela) in early June 2009.
I consider this a pilgrimage of gratitude. Each step was an opportunity to express gratitude for the abundance life offers; each footstep, one of finding joy. It was a humbling experience. It was a character-building experience. It was a spiritual adventure and a physical one too - who knew I was such a mountain goat? I hope you will enjoy my rambling, stream of consciousness obeservations of my experiences as a pilgrim on this historic pilgrimage route that really is only the begining.
Of course veteran pilgrims know: the Camino never ends - once a pilgrim, always a pilgrim. So, wherever YOUR path takes you, I wish you "Buen Camino".