Setting off and arriving

Leaving town early

It was not so cold today. I liked the little town. There was a transplanted Texan who opened for breakfast and apologized for not having tortillas ready. Coffee and toast with chopped tomatoes and oil were fine for me.

“Town”

Nobody had talked much about the descent into Ponteferrada. Maybe they didn’t want to scare us.

Kilometres of this made me slow
Rewarded with pretty villages on the way though

Finally I got into Ponferrada, a large and busy town with a huge Templar’s castle

My lunch guest

It was only about 2 km out of town to my very modern and nice albergue. I will do another 20 km tomorrow minus the crazy mountain descents to Villafranca. Gave a poor fellow pilgrim CBD cream for her feet. She says she will do 30 km tomorrow. I can’t imagine. What did I like best today? Alone time in a beautiful natural setting!

A hard walk

I kept tripping and almost falling…also I took a black and white cow for a villain as I set off in the dark.

Some pretty flowers as consolation

I spent many hours walking alone and I liked it very much. A high point was the iron cross or crux de fer where people are supposed to leave a stone as a symbol of the pain and sorrow one wants to leave behind.

I did my thing!

The walk after this was flat and nice but I had heard that there was a big descent. It came!

A sort of dance down

And at last in a nice albergue with clothes in the washing machine !

A wonderful walk

We past through Astoria today and there was, of course, a magnificent cathedral…,and the fairy-tale castle of Gaudi. I did not tarry as an annoying man started to explain how today’s holiday ( Columbus Day) had benefited the natives. . . By baptizing them. I scooted away after having expressed my complete disagreement

The walk outside of the town was wonderful. I was completely alone in countryside that seemed to belong to no one. The two great luxuries of the age, space and silence, were mine for hours.

Gaudi museum and gardens in Astoria

The high point of the walk was this strange “ oasis” run by a man called David. He offered coffee,fruits, toast and fresh orange juice for whatever one wanted to pay. A French guy told me he allowed him to shower the night before, cooked him a meal and gave him a bed for nothing. There was even a little shack with a stove where we could warm up. How strange he was! He has been doing this for Seven years.

David’s Oasis

We are staying in el Ganza which means “GooseTown”in an albergue where dinner costs more than the bed…and is worth it! See the stork nest on the roof of the church

Out of Leon and into the country

Now it can be told! I fell in Leon as I gazed at some ceiling murals purported to be the “sixtine chapel” of the Romanesque era . Included in the experience was negotiating some Middle Age type steps and … I didn’t negotiate so well. Down I went on both knees and I now have spectacular stained glass color knees.

OK this place is wonderful and French and stunning! Very different from Burgos but I loved the outside too. There was a Middle Age festival going on which added to the ambiance.

My knees look bad but work well. In spite of the look I did 20 k no problem

Sometimes I feel like this
How lovely is this? People used to joust on this bridge!

Camino Showers

The showers of the Camino are strange and varied. They are invariably clean but doors, curtains, glass panels or simply wide-open spaces are the possibilities. At the last moment I decided against a towel ( too heavy) and brought a sort of sarong instead which has served me well. The important thing is to keep track of your stuff..,glasses, knee brace, the dreaded hearing aids, money belt, soap, shampoo and even conditioner if you are feeling glamorous. When I forget to bring my clothes in with me, the sarong does double duty and my hair is always wrapped up in the t-shirt I just removed. Does that count as actually washing it? One looses touch with the priorities on the Camino.

Of course the taps are a complete mystery. Bars, levers, hand-holds. One can never be sure what temperature or force will …or won’t…emerge. The early morning speciality today was the sound effects. Water emerged when I pushed a round knob with all my might. The sound of an elk in mating season accompanied my efforts. It was 7;15. The tap like many on the Camino stopped after a few moments and this is to encourage short showers I presume. Since I was all lathered up I pushed the button again and …moan/groan went the pipes. I had to push the button a total of five times so of course by the time I emerged like a Hawaiian maiden wrapped in my sarong the whole dorm was awake.

Oh well, they had a full day ahead of them.

In Leon

Afternoon at the fountain

Yes, I came into town on the bus! I was falling behind and would not have made it without the little “ cheat” of a morning bus ride. And yes, I have a few days wiggle room but my sweet spot of 20 km would have left me short of days. I am staying in an albergue run by the Benedictine nuns and tonight we will have vespers.

I ran into another pilgrim with whom I connected earlier on and was very happy to see his dear kind face. Just when I was getting discouraged…,

A street scene in Leon

The town has a great vibe. Flowers still blooming everywhere

Geraniums!

By the River and in the convent

A shorter day today. We were to stay last night in a room adjacent to a group of blind and partially sighted pilgrims. They may not have been able to see but they sure could talk, laugh, play video games and have conversations on their cel phones two and three at a time. My brilliant walking partner tactfully announced that since we are “ senior ladies” we would be moving next door to another section populated by serious Germans and sulky Frenchmen. We slept like tops!

A car with no tail begs for yoghurt

He was my favourite at the whole albergue except for Gabriel who took charge of all my horribly dirty and sweaty clothes, washed them, dried them and left them outside my room in a basket. I paid of course for this but….

Leaving in the morning

We are still on the Meseta but we took the scenic route that follows the river rather than the one along the highway. It was worth it.

The non-river part

Here is a picture of the courtyard of Santa Clara monastery where we are staying …one room with two beds! No no

A loooonng day

Twenty five kilometres is a lot more than twenty!

Does that sound odd to you? I have been used to walking about twenty kilometres every day and felt quite proud of myself because I never felt tired or had pains in my feet. I skipped along like a little goat. However today I and my walking partner got a little ambitious . You must understand that it would be a shame to run out of time before we had finished our walk.

We started with a long and steep pull out of Castrojeriz. The grade was 12%. The descent was 19%. I resorted to walking backwards to save my knee on the descent. Michael Jackson roll over! I would only attempt this on paved roads of course.

The weather was grey and cloudy all day with a terrific wind like the breath of God up on the high open plain. This truly is where the sky meets the bare earth now that crops are gathered in. This is the land for meditation.

At last we came to the beautiful canal that has been used for centuries to irrigate the fields. I must say by then we were very tired. We had about a five kilometres walk before we got into town. However we are now safe inside the albergue and ready to make our own dinner in the neat little kitchen. We will sleep well I know!

Really walking the Meseta

How cold it was walking out of the albergue this morning! I was glad of my jacket and one of my friends used her thin socks as gloves. The province has lifted some of the restrictions for accommodation because the Covid numbers are very good and so instead of 2 in the room we were 4. I was so tired as I had not slept well the previous night that I hardly noticed. The dawn was spectacular, the sky blue with a beautiful overlay of pink. We walked 10 km by 10:30 and stopped for “ second breakfast”.

An ecumenical church

We met our Camino angel from the day before, Claudio, and had a chat with him before continuing on across the high flat plain. It is very pleasant to walk the track except for the muddy bits.

Hard to miss the path!

Our goal was Castrojeriz and we could see it in the distance after we passed the ruins of the convent of San Antonio,

Time seems elastic, almost not to matter. The sky, clear and decorated with many clouds seems indifferent to our slow progress. I like walking close to the earth. The fields are almost at eye level in some places, the wheat already cut and dry stubble waiting for winter.

Approaching Castrojeriz

Our albergue, simple and welcoming. I am sitting in the town square waiting for the food store to open. Dry leaves rustle and I lift my head, thinking someone will pass by. But no, it is still siesta time and nothing will be open for about an hour.

Oh, in the little church that I liked so much there were slips of paper that we were invited to choose…almost like fortune cookies. Mine read “ let go or be dragged”

On the Meseta

We left Burgos in the dark and in pouring rain. My jacket and poncho held up well but my feet became soaking when I stepped into a large puddle. However, my socks are a bit magic and seemed to wick away the water so that my feet were not at all uncomfortable.

More inspiring than the mural—-we are less than 500 km from out goal

We entered the Meseta. Some people think it is boring because there are no mountains. I do not! The sky and land meet and the little villages are a joy and a mystery. We did just over 20 km today with no discomfort

Flat …. Flat. …,,Flat

A Camino incident

My companion has had discomfort with blisters and other complications. Along comes a gentleman whom I had met at the start of the Camino. He immediately opened an impressive pack of first aid items and tended to my friend’s feet. We walked together chatting and singing into the village where we will spend the night. We will meet again on the road I know.