Camino Diary Entry #25
We taxied to the bus station which is where we always knew we were going to have to give up being such pure pilgrims and in the interests of limited holidays available, cut 10 days walking out!
We reconnected (the pilgrim in-house word for ‘bumped into after several days of not seeing you’) with a nice couple from Indianapolis. I suspect they are recent converts to ‘precious’ and a bit over being ‘press–on’. Even though it doesn’t matter and no reason is required, we all gave an explanation as to why we might be catching a bus!
It was such a treat to be flicking through the pages of the Michelin Camino guide, as we passed by land marks of stages 13 to 20! We dealt to about 179 kms in just 3 1/2 hours!
As we settled in to the journey I again gave thanks for having had the wisdom to be precious and enjoy hotels vs hostels. I am quite sure that climbing in to a 3 tiered bunk with 50 other Pilgrims in the room would be somewhat akin to the company on the bus. Within minutes, some were snoring, re-arranging the contents of their nasal cavities, mobile phones ringing, the smell – of unwashed people, of their packed lunches, lots of bag rustling. No one giving a toss about anyone else! The German cyclists seated behind us who I think were female but looked like they had been bottle fed on testosterone selfishly talked loudly all the way.
The wind continuously swept the seemingly endless crops of wheat into perfectly co-ordinated Mexican waves. Vast plains resembled a recently shaken eiderdown in every colour and with odd shapes neatly seamed. It would have been a very, very long, mind numbing walk for endless days!
Some of the villages we slowed to a crawl behind tractors. Empty streets reminiscent of deserted movie sets. We squeezed down narrow lanes like a bloodhound on the scent of a headless chook and drove through abandoned bus stations in case someone turned up hoping for a bus ride.
We passed pilgrims battling it out with the wind and the boredom. They looked too tired to even be competing in the Refugio run. That particular debacle starts about 2.30 pm with a sudden spurt of effort to get to reach the next hostel and secure a bunk. They hobble past with their blistered feet as fast as they can manage looking as if their ankles are tied together and they must run for their lives.
We, however, are again enjoying a night of comfort, this time in Leon. We have our little rituals when we arrive. Suitcase positions are allocated. Gwyneth opens her bag, I detach Donald from the day pack so he can stretch his legs. Gwyneth pushes and heaves at the single beds to get as much distance between them as bedside tables will allow.
First in to the bathroom gets to check out the goodie bag: razors, tissues, soaps and shampoo. We had so many wardrobes between the bedroom and the sitting room that I found this morning that Gwyn had hung a little something in each one! Even if it was only a pair of socks to air!!
(Speaking of which…this very day there has been a happy reunion between myself and the previously recorded missing Injinji sock!)
There is a beautiful cathedral in Leon, we know because we have read about it and seen the pictures! As luck would have it our hotel is not close to the city centre, but somewhat fortuitously opposite a major department store! We have whiled away our afternoon across the road, made about 15 trips there and back – sometimes ‘just to look’ (funny creatures we are from shop-less, recently earthquake ravaged Christchurch).
Gwyn made a late dash for yet more lipsticks then demanded a google search of tomorrow’s weather before her shower. Gwyn has spent another hour rearranging her bag – it’s all because the bus drivers don’t like you to carry your poles on board!
We shall sacrifice purity again tomorrow and bus on to Ponferrada which will deal with 5 more pages from the book! We have put in the hard yards for over 250-280 kms, to say nothing of the kilometres clocked up on rest days! The nice thing is, everybody owns their own Camino and nobody else cares what you do!