24 Sept 2017Santinabez, Spain
Lest anyone who is following my schedule should be feeling impressed with my progress, I don’t think I mentioned that I decided to credit myself with the solitude of desert walks I completed throughout my training in the neighborhood around Pipe Creek (in 80 to 90 degree weather) + time walked in Big Bend over the many vacations we have spent camping and hiking there. Setting that against the need to walk the section of the Camino that is called the Meseta – it is flat…much like getting up and taking a walk from El Paso to Amarillo, I hopped on my second bus for a ride through it and arrived in Leon (from Burgos.) It put me ahead of schedule but meant that I finally decided to cancel my Parador and dinner date with Cory. Since she was not able to come before the 26th, I recognized that there is just not enough Leon to really fill that length of time (almost 6 days) in any circumstance.
Against that rationalization, yesterday was one of the most joyful along this entire adventure. My walk was just a simple wonder for me. I was rising in the face of all my greatest fears of being lost and I boldly chose to do an “alternate route” that would keep me off the edge of the highway, and move me out through what I realized 1/3 of the way along that I was continuing on the fringe of Meseta-like land, and I was walking as if I was on my Bumpgate Road practice walk…without the fences and longhorns. I was completely at home in my world.
My pack got dropped off for transport at the Parador (something of me got to stay for a while in the luxury of the Parador) and I lurked outside the main entrance where peregrinos passed on the route out of town. When I realized there was a little cafe across the plaza where I could get my “git-er-dun” cup of Cafe con Leche, I headed over and waited out the glimmer of safety most of us find in first light when we don’t have to wear headlamps to walk. As I went back to latch onto the hem of a group headed in my direction, I remembered Anne’s directive that if all else failed, follow Germans as they are hardwired for good gps sense. As I followed one couple, we came to the point where one eats some protein-carb item (ham/cheese/bread sandwich or potato/egg frittata like thing called a tortilla). Mine is always the tortilla as it requires the least amount of chewing. And it goes well with the 2d café con lèche. Unfailingly served with a large hunk of baguette.
In order to be in the shade, I had taken a space next to someone who was also in search of the alternate and while not being German, he was close enough for me. He was Belgian. We pondered a plan and the bar owner came over and gave us a printed map and flier from his good friend’s albergue in the place we were headed. Confidence enshrouded us both.
We headed out and covered 11k and a vast number of important and unimportant issues, surprisingly finding ourselves at yet another bar, just in time for lunch. From there it was a breeze. He decided to walk on and I signed in to my reserved space at Albergue de Jesus.
I arranged my bunk, washed my clothes and body in the same shower (take all your clothes off, soap up and as you rinse off, add a little extra shampoo to the clothes you are standing on and it causes washing action. Step up and down on them a few extra times and then rinse everything well). I walked some more steps and met a couple of friends at their albergue where the evening meal would be held.
We also walked around town….all 30 buildings, not including the church. Storks nests sat on top of the pillars on the bell tower.
Supper was good, sunset was great and they bought me an extra beer to celebrate the 500,000th step I had taken as Henry and I crossed the street to head into the wilderness trail cum Pipe Creek.
This is, for me thus far, not mystical or magical. It has been hard work and steady improvement in attitude and outcomes. What I realized on this day however was that it was most definitely a journey and a recognition of the beauty of walking and seeing the place and hearing the sounds and moving forward…chirping birds, crunching stones and gravel, another peregrino about to pass you, signaled by his/her approaching shadow and the sound of the click of walking sticks. Knowing for the most part that your pack would be faithfully delivered ahead of you for Jaco-Trans small fee of $5 and expert delivery skills and you would get the bed you had called ahead for and reserved in your best effort at speaking Spanish on the phone and understanding the return fire, unhesitating rapid-fire commentary from the guy at the other end (It closes out with me spelling my name in the Spanish – just K-I-M) – all this gives me a warm wash of feel-good.
The routine is pretty secure, less frantic and the absence of Anne’s snoring has not yet been replaced with anything nearly as strong, loud and unrelenting. There is a heavy Spanish guy who followed me in however tonight so the challenge might be on to replace her honors. Fortunately he is 4 beds away from me.