Bill’s Blog Journal

Leon

Day 34 -Leon – 10/18-19

Spending two nights in the Old Town portion of the city marked by the left footprints of a Roman soldier. They always marched with the left first. Me too…I’m now 600k into my 1,000k trek and am now down to my Fryeburg Academy wrestling weight! I highly recommend this Camino diet to anyone. You can eat all you want. This town is full of wonderful pastry shops so I am hoping to boost my calorie intake so I don’t disappear entirely. 

I’m in a very sweet little boutique hotel right in the center of everything for less than 60 eruos a night. 

It is welcome to leave behind the pilgrim backpack and just be tourist for the day. I was even tempted to take the sightseeing train, but it was too cold and only in Spanish. 

There are numerous museums and church’s with the centerpiece, of course, the cathedral. My little IO Bear Buddy is also enjoy the trip and has started many conversations about Osteogenesis Imperfecta along the Way. (Please remember that you can donate at anytime through my blog site http://www.spiritualhattrick.com the donate link will connect you directly with the OI Foundation) 

So many beautiful buildings and so much history. I ended a nice day with a mass and pilgrim blessing in the Basilica de San Isadoro. Earlier I toured the attached museum and saw the chalice which is believed to have been The Holy Grail. The priest was quite a character inviting all the pilgrims back to his chambers after the blessing to get our document stamped and for a photo op. 

The Meseta Part 2- Days 28…33

Overview –

(I apologize that this post is a bit haphazard. Not feeling well for a few days really threw me off kilter. I also took only a few pictures) 

It is remarkable how much can happen while only walking. Or perhaps I should say the opposite. We spend so much our lives rushing about in a car driving from one important thing to the next. We hardly take the time to notice the details of our existence let alone our thoughts. 

The Meseta offers the opportunity to explore ourselves and new perspective through which to view our relationship with others. I have found this a difficult portion of the journey. I am happy that I walked each step and happy to have it behind. 

Day – 28. Poblacion – 10/13

In the morning I felt better but not too great and decided to head out. I had walked only 3k to the first albergue. It had a chair by the entrance so I decided to rest a minute. I realized I was exhausted. The place looked very inviting so I went to check in for the night at 9:30am. 
This was by far the nicest and best designed I’ve encountered. Looks very new with only 12 beds in six bunks of sorts. The top bunk is a walk up and each space is private with a nightlight and electric outlet. (Some places you will find a half dozen phones plugged into one.
The sign advertised Reilke so I requested a session. It turns out that the local “healer” came for the session. Who would have known that 24 hours after being told I looked like a Shaman I would be seeing one! Interesting experience…. 
Basically I slept the better part of 24 hrs. I joined the evening meal for a test of food and to be socal but left soon to continue resting. 

Day 29 Carrion – 10/14

Thursday was Columbus day here, a national holiday. Therefore the number of people on the Camino has increased as many will walk for a four-day holiday. They check into these very inexpensive albergues, 5 euros a night,  after a days walk, hit a grocery store, buy some wine and have a party. Fun to see all the different types of Camino experiences. 

Checked into my albergue and discovered that one of my dozen roommates is Timothy, the Irishman, who I met on month ago on the bus from the airport in Lourdes and last saw in Pamplona. The Camino is like that. He was kind enough to share some of the dinner he cooked. It was wonderful to have a meal which included fresh veggies and no french fries! 

Day 30 – Ledigos -10/15

It’s early Sunday morning walking alone on a very quiet country road there are many walking ahead and behind. 
Thinking about the people I’ve met so far and how they come into your life then vanish has led me to thinking abandonment issues related to my mothers suicide and my relationships in general. More lessons in acceptance. 
If one walks the Camino in order to finish it it may never begin, if  walks it for the journey it may never end. 

The next leg offered an alternate route away from the main road via a dirt road through beautiful empty fields. Here I met a gentleman walking in the opposite direction. His name was Sky and he had begun walking the Camino from Chartres cathedral in France in 2009.  He walked the famous labyrinth there to its center and proceeded directly on to Santiago. He has been traveling the world and feeling his life at loose ends. He has returned to walk from Santiago back to Chartres. This time he will complete the labyrinth by returning to the center and walking out. He said he will never again leave a labyrinth unfinished! 

Finally someone asked about my circle & triangle AA patch. It was good to have coffee and a two person meeting. 

Day – 31 Bercianos – 10/16

An early start was in order for this walk of about 18 miles. With no challenges from terrain and the weather was not too hot which helped a lot. 
Great lamb dinner. I ordered Torta Santiago for desert which arrived accompanied by a shot glass containing a yellow liquor. Smelled pretty potent to say the least.  Happy for yesterday mini meeting. 

Day -32 – Mansilla de las Mulas – 10/16

Straight walk for 25 k without a left or right decision all day. 

Mule town was charming and a stopping place for Mariana as I spotted her cart parked on the street so I trust she was treated to a comfortable stable. 

I was invited to share a home cooked  dinner with a man from Manchester UK and woman from Vancouver BC.

The Camino brings people together in so many ways. It is hard to know who is a couple and who justmet are are simply walking together. Another such couple joined our table as we finished dinner. He entertained us playing beautifully on a guitar that was available.

So I was left alone to chat quietly with his companion. The conversations often begin with “what brought you to the Camino?” Her story was heartbreaking. She had seen the movie The Way and it had planted the seed. Last Christmas her daughter had given her a number of Camino gifts as encouragement for her to go. Last January her daughter died of suspicious causes. The woman is now walking the Camino to grieve and, like in the movie, carrying her daughters ashes. 

Day 33 – Leon – 10/17

My thought for the day on this last stretch of the Meseta is -Show up for my life good or bad….

It was a cold wet morning walking through the urban suburbs approaching Leon. I walked a portion of the day with my Spaniard friend and guide Angel. He has been wonderful offering advice on the best and cheapest places to stay. He seems to have taken me under is wing and we have enjoyed each other’s company even with the language barrier. He was good enough to give me his number before we parted in case I had any emergency and needed help. 

Meseta  – Part 1 

Day – 27  Fromista – October 12th
Meseta is quite a change and is challenging in its own right though much easier walking. You are presented with bleak landscape contributing to some boredom, plus  heat, etc. 
I walked on and off most of the day with a lovely Korea woman, a professor of international affairs, on sabbatical. Her English was limited and my Korean nonexistent so it was a quiet day. 

This section really highlights the remarkable irrigation system of canals and viaducts. I am told that is much more sophisticated than it appears. The Spanish developed irrigation systems before the romans. 

I stopped at the main canal junction to say hi to Marianne the donkey, who is pulling the car/cart, to give her an apple. 

I ended up chatting with a couple of very lovely and cheerful Irish girls who said that my hat made me look like a Shaman. 

As soon as I checked into the albergue I became stomach sick. It was a long rough night. The hosptilera was very kind and provided a blanket. 

Day – 28. Poblacion

In the morning I felt better but not too great and decided to head out. I had walked only 3k to the first albergue. It had a chair by the entrance so I decided to rest a minute.  I realized I was exhausted. The place looked very inviting so I went to check in for the night at 9:30am. 

This was by far the nicest and best designed I’ve encountered. Looks very new with only 12 beds in six bunks of sorts. The top bunk is a walk up and each space is private with a nightlight and electric outlet. (Some places you will find a half dozen phones plugged into one.

The sign advertised Reilke so I requested a session. It turns out that the local “healer” came for the session. Who would have known that 24 hours after being told I looked like a Shaman I would be seeing one! Interesting experience…. 

Basically I slept the better part of 24 hrs. I joined the evening meal for a test of food and to be socal but left soon to continue resting. 

Quick update 

I have fallen behind with my journaling. It is surprisingly difficult to make the time free and free of distractions. The day fills up quickly with walking, eating, walking (self & clothes) and sleeping. Then I picked up a stomach bug a few days back and that put me way behind. I am much better now. I expect I’ll be in Leon in a few days and take a day off. Will catch up then. 

Thank you all for following along, your love, & support. 

Into the Meseta..

Day 25 – Hornillos Del Camino 

Lovely walk leaving Burgos via the urban area surrounding the university gradually becoming an undulating sea of brown. Little to photograph today. 

The Meseta offers the opportunity to converse with ourselves and with other pilgrims. Among today’s encounters were a nurse from Pennsylvania, a couple from Australia, a very nice young man from Italy with one arm, and young lady from South Korea. The most fun encounter was with 5 brothers from Boston (sorry I forgot to get s photo). They have been walking the Camino together for the past three years in two week segments. The youngest was 66 and the oldest 87!! And they were a very funny bunch. 

Stopped at this small chapel with a history of miracles and received a medallion and blessing from one of the nuns. 

Enjoyed a good communal dinner and conversation in the albergue. 

Wandered down the street after dinner and enjoyed the company of a new friend from Mexico who had told me about a little Irish Pub with live music. The local singer was terrific with a voice and style reminiscent of Edith Piaf. ​​


The overnight entertainment was something else in a bunkroom of a dozen beds. One man snoring and his poor daughter trying to wake him each time. And another gentleman with some disorder causing him to utter a variety of uncontrollabled noises from time to time. One of the great lessons of the Camino is the opportunity to practice accepting people as they are. 

Day 26 – Castrojeriz

Chilly crystal clear morning walking through yet more fields of harvested wheat and other grains.  Occasionally a field of sunflowers around and dried still standing looking very forlorn. This area is what we would call high desert with an elevation of 900 meters,  making for clear nights, and hot days in the blazing sun. Fairly easy walking through rolling hills and occasional plateaus. 

Some feel the Maseta is boring and skip it entirely by taking a bus. I am finding beautiful in its own way with occasional surprises to offer such as a very sweet chapel. 

Or the remains of one.Had a delightful meeting walking for an hour today with a Swiss woman and her 12-year-old grandson. She has been walking two weeks a year for the nine years ago starting in Switzerland. There are so many stories reminding me that we each walk our own Camino. 

Once again my German friend Linn has materialized. She was searching for an albergue that was not full or too weird.  She declined an offer from a local to rent a bed in a basement. I gallantly offered to walk her to a nearby church run albergue where they not only had room but the morning wake up is one of the Brothers chanting. 

Day -21 Villafranca          Day -22 Cardenuela Riopico Day -23 and 24 Burgos – halfway

Day 21 – VillafrancaMontes de Oca
Between the noise in the albergue this morning and the breakfast of stale bread I decided to try and early start walking in the dark leaving Granon. The Camino once again provided rewards I wouldn’t have imagined, a full moon lighted my way through the fields. Plus the signage here is excellent. 
Speaking of guidance I feel as though I’ve been guided since I said yes to the Camino. So many aspects of my life have seemed to just fall into place. All I have to do is follow the signs….


I am often surprised when I pause in my walk to look back. The scene is often quite beautiful as is my life when I view it from today’s perspective. I can see that everything worked out as it was mean to. I’ve been blessed all along but did not know it. 

The walk today was mostly level on well maintained paths to I took the opportunity to walk in my running shoes giving my feet a welcome change.

I was disappointed not to be able to see inside this sweet church. I loved its charm and the symmetry of the stork nests. 

My French friend Deni & his son came upon me in the midst of contemplation to once again provide guidance. They had a new friend in tow from Italy. She was struggling a bit with language and physical ailments. A woman passing by sensed this and stopped to offer help adjusting her pack and offering her advice. Again the beauty of sharing on the Camino. We later stopped for a snack in Blorado before again parting company for some solo walking. 

Even though the field had turned monochrome the pathways were still dotted with splashes of color. 

I arrived in the tiny village of Villafraca de Montes de Oca Friday afternoon in time to witness Spain’s version of bowling being played in the Church’s courtyard. I have no idea what it is called or what the rules are. They all seemed to be having a lot of fun and many laughs, especially when the wind blew down the pins. 

Day 22 – Cardenuela Riopico

When the lights go on in the 20+ person bunkroom it’s time to get up and get going. Not interested in another predawn start I delayed my departure with some coffee and breakfast in the bar. It was not too long before I was joined by two Dutch women, Charlotte and Yani. (I must be meeting every Dutch pilgrim on the Camino!)

Today’s walk we enjoyed mostly good paths with a few uphill challenges, and enjoyed some of the last shade trees we will see for quite a few daysDeni guiding once again. Also met a number of interesting sights along the way. 

A new pilgrim arrived as we were finishing our morning coffee stop. Father & son team with their sweet donkey pulling the back end of an old car as a cart. 

Charlotte was a bit disappointed not to get to ride in the cart. The previous evening she had celebrated her birthday at dinner and after a bit of wine the offer had been made. 

We stopped in for lunch in the picturesque village of Ages. Used for a photo op with my little bear buddy. We were entertaining watching the antics of a group celebrating Saturday… it was a motley crew. 

The high piont of the day, literally and figuratively, was coming across a huge spiral labyrinth at the highest peak of the day’s walk by Cruz de Matagrande. It was so large that we only walk it one way to the center. I have been interested in labyrinths since I walk led my first January 1st this year. Today’s was personally a very significant event. I am grateful that we took a break from our walk West to do this circular walk….

Day -23 To Burgos 

The walking approach did not offer much until we were in the city boundaries and entered the river walk. 

We arrived just in time to see some of the finishers of the cities annual marathon. We were a bit stunned when one of the finishing runners turned to us and said ” Buen Camino “! We wandered through the adjacent weekend market more interested in finding a hotel and dropping our packs. 

I could not resist one night in the hotel El Cid with a room looking directly out onto the majestic cathedral. 

The interior was breathtaking as well

Day 24 – Halfway

This is the halfway point of my walk 500 kilometers down 500 to go. The next section of Spain is the Meseta which is high plains. Is is reportedly flat, hot, and boring. Some people hate it, some take choose to skip it and take the bus, others find it a wonderful meditation. Stay tuned…So I am taking a holiday. My day of rest entailed changing Hotels, doing laundry, running errands, a bit of sightseeing, and of course running in to fellow pilgrim friends new & old. The cafés here are like eddies on the stream of the Camino, a place to rest and watch the other pilgrims swim by. 

Day 19 – Azofara.  Day 20 – Granon

Dubious start today when I went to the corner Cafe for breakfast only to find it closed and upon return to my hotel discovered I was locked out. It was 20 minutes before the night manager answered the bell. So I had neither breakfast nor an early start. However, it was still dark when I left making it difficult to navigate my way out of the town. 

I was feeling a bit lonely. It seemed all my Camino friends had either left the Camino or were a day or two ahead of me. A young man from Germany came along walked with me for a while which received my melancholy. His name is Deni reminding me of my first day and the first person I walked with from Lourdes, a Frenchman also named Deni. Late morning I stopped in a park for a rest & snack. I was approached by two men, one was calling me by name. Because of his hat I had not recognized Deni my French guide from Day One! What a great surprise! His son joined him the day after we met and they took an alternate route over the Pyrenees. 

Upon arriving in Azofra I was once again surprised to see old friends appear. This made for a pleasant lunch catching up with them and their stories.  Linn from Germany, Marianne from Sweden, and the injured Dutch woman Gerta. 

Back to the pilgrim life in an albergue for me tonight. No hotel. This night is in a large new municipal facility which was very nice with a garden foundation pool that many took advantage of to soak sore feet. 

I enjoyed an early dinner in town so I could catch the church service which your book said was at 7:00. No service tonight. 

Others made dinner together back at the alburgue and enjoyed themselves judging by the multi-lingual laughter. 😊

A closing note about all the friendly hardworking and honest people I’ve encountered in France and Spain. This has been true of just random people offering a Buen Camino or directions to all the cafe staff. Last night I dropped an envelope I keep spare cash (not in my wallet). I thought I’d returned it to its hiding place in my fanny pack but had missed. When I returned from the bathroom the waitress had it in her hand and asked if it was mine! 💕

Day 20

Spectacular morning walking through rolling hillsides displaying their cultivated fields, creating a myriad of patterns. It is beautiful to walk through but seemingly impossible to capture in a photograph . 

Spent the morning walking with my wounded and now solo friend from Sweden. We enjoyed a quiet time together imagining that this brown scenery and blazing sun is a prelude to the upcoming Meseta (plains). 

We walked together to Santo Domingo where we visited the cathedral which keeps a hen & rooster on display (for the strange legend behind this try google) Here we parted company so she could heal her feet and knees and I could continue on to Granon. 

I have read and been told that staying at the albergue run by nuns with a communal dinner & prayers is a must for any true pilgrim. However when I arrived I discovered that the accommodations included a 2 inch thick mattress side by side on the floor. I could not envision my trying to get off the floor multiple times in the night. So I checked into the only other option in town. This one is run by s free spirited as a Donativo. No set price, you donate what you’d feel is fair for a bed, communal dinner & breakfast. Very funky place to say the least. Dinner was an interesting affair with only one or two English speakers and a menu of bean soup followed by roasted potatoes and salad.