** let me start off by saying that I am writing these diary posts from my cell . So please excuse the format, look, possible grammatical errors, and feel of this presentation for normally I would have a laptop but wanted to disconnect is much as possible while walking the Camino de Santiago.
July 15, 2016: Hontanas – Boadilla
Another long day!
We had as a group decided to leave early to walk another 28 kilometers. Today I realized why the Meseta is so feared and loathed, though personally I felt that it was okay.
Some of the group was suffering a bit from the heat and even James finally picked up a blister. It was tough on the group as we walked for it seemed like forever with no place to stop and escape the heat.
Now on the Camino, we tend to be hidden from the outside world, but today everyone was talking about the Bastille day tragedy in Nice, France. One of the younger members of our group seemed to be especially affected by this information and asked me, “why does stuff like this happen?” I don’t envy parents at times like this! I tried to offer some insight but I’m sure by failed miserably as she walked away caring the weight of the world on her shoulders. It slowed my walk that morning!
A couple of the others were struggling as well and needed and escape from the steep climbs and the heat. I understood their issues but could offer no relief. The walk can be physically and mentally tough on anyone. After 2 weeks its easy to see why are person would want to stop or even quit and go home.
We finally made it to Boadilla and our Albergue. Hopefully everyone was able to find relief and recharge their spirits for tomorrow.
July 16, 2016: Boadilla – Carrion de los Condes
Not going to lie, I dislike waking up early! I been spoiled recently waking up whenever I want back home. But the gang wanted to leave by 6 a.m. so I reluctantly woke up.
Though a little cranky, I was happy that we did. As we walked along the Canal de Castilla, I was blessed with that unbelievable sunrise.
We headed west so the sunrise was behind us but the western sky line was full of beautiful colors as the sun rose behind us. As we walk to long the canal, old Spaniards lined the banks with long cane poles and baskets as they were crawfishing. A memory of my home in New Orleans.
The rest of the walk was quiet and slow along the “scenic route” of the meseta. Finally we arrived at Carrion. Here I met a priest about my age from Canada name Jeffrey. He seemed like a great guy as we hung out for an hour in the plaza smoking cigars and sharing our adventure stories.
July 17, 2016: Carrion – Terradillos de los Templarios
The Meseta is kind of boring which I guess is great for thinking!
James, Greg, and I got started around 8 a.m. after breakfast but soon we walked the path relatively apart at our own paces. After morning prayers, I spent most of my time battling random thoughts with my intentions of the day.
This day in the meseta kind of sucked because it started with 17 kilometers of no break. That means no towns, no food, no nothing, except heat. Being from New Orleans, the heat doesn’t seem to bother me as much but it wears everyone else down both physically and mentally. At one point James and I met up with Emily and Marie as we chatted about life to break up the monotony of the scenery surrounding us. Finally we made it to our albergue. This town didn’t offer much, so we hung out playing games in the dining hall and laughing our exhaustion away.
July 18, 2016: Terradillos – El Burgo Ranero
The day I was kidnapped!
We left early and walked in the coolness along the tree lined paths. The meseta seems to be ending as they were a few more villages along the walk today.
One of the highlights of today was a field of sunflowers that greeted us after an hour or so into the walk.
Another highlights was crossing the Ermita Virgen del Puente. On the other side of this bridge was a beautiful gateway arch. It reminded me of the scene in the movie, The Neverending Story, where Atreyu has to be pure of heart to pass between two statues to continue on his quest. Here between the two arches is the Centro Geographico del Camino or the direct center of the Camino. We made it halfway!
Then, we finally made it to Bercianos where I broke up the band as they say. My Irish family, James, and Greg stayed behind but I continued on for another 7.5 kilometers in order to get closer to a town called Mansilla where I would meet up with my family from Spain the next day.
When I finally arrived at El Burgo, I checked into a municipal albergue that takes donations only in exchange for a bed. One of the older volunteers showed me to my bed. Then she grabbed my shoulder and said now it’s time to play. So I reach for my wallet, and she said, ” I can’t accept cash I meant to give me a hug”. I replied telling her that I was sweating and disgusting but she didn’t care. She said that all pilgrims need a hug sometimes. So I put down my bag and hugged her. She was right! I needed that.
After getting cleaned up, I walked across the street or I met up with some other friends I met along the walk, two Italians, two americans, and an old spaniard. We decided to have dinner together and it was a blast. We had the craziest conversations as everyone spoken in their native tongue while we were trying to figure out what each other what was saying. But that didn’t matter because we laughed.
I was told earlier in this walk a very important quote, “Everyone Laughs in the Same Language!”
After dinner our gang returned outside to the patio where we sat, laughed more, and attempted to drink grappa.
Then suddenly my cell phone rang which was weird because I didn’t have service. As I looked at my phone a van pulled up behind me and a bunch of kids jumped out screaming that they were here to kidnap me! Ah Family…I love them!!
In a whirlwind, I left my dinner party, ran with them back to my albergue to collect all my drying clothes, my pack, and boots. Then I hopped in the van with them! It felt a little weird being back in a car but I didn’t care as Francisco and Bea’ drove me around first to see Amando Llorente’s house and then to their farm house.
From there we ate some more and then surrounded by my many little cousins, we sat outside in the cool summer night as we talked about the Camino, my bucket list, adventures, and life.
July 19, 2016: Rest Day – Leon – Mansilla
Though I wasn’t walking, I still woke up early. So I decided to continue my intentions as the kids and family slept.
Around noon, Bea, Javi, Beatriz, Javi’s friend Eric, and I went into the city of Leon to explore the cathedral there. It was absolutely beautiful. This cathedral is famous for it stained glass windows and it definitely lived up to the hype.
Later in the afternoon after taking a tour of the cow farm, Francisco, Eric, and I took a bicycle tour to the town of Mansilla. This was great because Francisco is a great tour guide and it allowed me to see a stop on the Camino that I would have missed.
Coincidentally we ran into my Irish family at one restaurant who were staying in that town. Francisco got us some unbelievable meats to try and taught me how to drink Sidra in the traditional way which was a fun event in itself.
Later that evening, we returned to the house where we had an unbelievable feast of tapas. Then after dinner we sat outside in the cool night smoking cigars while the triplets shared hilarious stories of their youth.
It was another perfect day with family!
July 20, 2016: Villafale – Leon
I left my family in Villafale with Pili as she dropped me off at Puente Villarente. I was happier than anything!
It made me a little sad to think that I might not see James or the Irish family again, but I was too happy to let it bother me. Then out of no where they all walked up on me.
Together, we all walked again into Leon. After eating burritos for lunch, I hung out with random people while drinking wine and enjoying a cigar. Emily, the girl from Queensland, Australia, joined us. She leads an interesting life of travel as she told me of all the places she’s been, where she is planning on going, and how she funds it all. It amazes me how people can make their dreams work in real life.
July 21, 2016: Leon – St. Martin del Camino
Today was an easy walking day. The weather was beautiful and cool as we walked through the suburbs and industrial areas leaving Leon.
The rest of the walk was average but about mid day we ran into this great family from southern California.
After making it to our albergue, we just hung out. There wasn’t much to the town. However we spent the afternoon with the SoCal family playing card games, charades, and just chatting.
Sometimes you just need to have an easy night.