Before we left Caldadilla de la Cueza, I met Diana from South Africa, Diane from Canada, and Helen from New Zeland. Helen told me that she was going to be cooking dinner at the Albergue in El Burgo Ranero in two more days because her friend, Joann, was the hospitalario there.
Oh, what the enticement of a communal meal can do. My plan was to walk about 15 km to San Nicolas, but we arrived there at about 10:30 am. So on we went to Sahagun (another 10 km). David was talking about the community meal at the municipal Albergue in Bercianos del Real Camino so after he patiently waited for me to figure out how to update my SIM card at an ATM, on we went. What’s another 9 km. anyway. So after walking about 32 km., we arrived. They were actually full, but the hospitalario said that if we were quiet, we could have the other bunk in his room.
Then 6 more peregrinos arrived and they were put on mats on the floor in a room.
While walking around town looking for the church for Mass, we passed a group of men playing Bocce Ball.
Community dinner was very, very crowded. The best part of the evening was the candle ceremony. Only about 10 of the 55 people came. None of the other people in the room spoke English except for the hospitalario, but when each person (9 men and one other woman) held the candle and spoke about their Camino experience, I could feel the emotions coming from them. It was amazing.
Today we only walked 7.6 km. I was tired from yesterday and looking forward to cooking with Helen. We arrived in El Burgo Ranero by about 9:30 and they let us put our bags into the Albergue before it opened.
I really enjoyed eating empanadas and ice-cream and exploring the small town with David. Helen, Diana, and Diane arrived before the Albergue opened at 1:00. Diane has done something to injure one of her heels and the other knee. I gave her some hikers wool to put under her foot and that helped her to walk around. Joanne gave Diane, Gal (a young woman from Tel Aviv), Helen, and I each a foot massage.
Several of us helped cook and Helen made the best chicken Paella I have had so far. 11 of us in the Albergue shared dinner. Again, I am at a loss for words to describe what it is like to share conversations with the wonderful people on the Camino.
Diane and Helen had to stay back in El Burgo Ranero because they needed to rest their injuries. David and I walked the 19km to Mansilla de la Mulas and met up with Diana at the municipal Albergue in the middle of town. We really enjoyed exploring the town and having dinner together.
We took photos by the sculpture of the three pilgrims.
In the evening, as I was working on downloading my Camino guide, I watched the woman who ran the Albergue work on people to fix up their blisters, ice their ankles and legs, and give advise to those she thought needed to take a few days of rest. She spoke only Spanish and was amazing to watch. Somehow she made herself understood as she was bandaging people’s feet. in the end she had her daughter explain to one man how to deal with his boots. I was absolutely amazed.
This morning I decided to follow David’s advice and take the bus to Leon instead of walking through all the industrial parts. More Camino magic. We met Pam (from Philidelphia) at the bus depot. Pam completed the Camino Madrid and her story about it is very interesting, David had decided that he was just going to visit the Cathedral in Leon and keep walking. I decided that I wanted to stay in Leon for the night. I have really enjoyed walking with David. We walked about the same pace and we both enjoyed walking long stretches in silence. Before David left we took photos of ourselves with the sculpture in Leon.
Pam wanted to see if she could get a room at the Hostel San Martin even though somebody had called for a reservation and had been told it was full. I went with her and we got a wonderful private room for two. Then we went to the Cathedral and found David.
The windows in the Cathedral were beautiful.
I said goodbye to David. Pam, Lola (a woman she had met) and I explored Leon and had lunch. Then Pam and I went to meet a fried of hers (Marcie) and another couple. We walked around town for a while. This man is doing the Camino with his dog on a bicycle.
We went to the local market in Leon where they were selling fruits and vegetables including these sun flowers.
We went to a local celebration where people were demonstrating how they made things.
Just after dark I went back to the Cathedral to see it lit up. It was beautiful. The streets of Leon are packed with people (mostly locals) out enjoying themselves on a Saturday night.
Well, I have managed not to misplace anything up to now, but tonight I managed to lose my small collapsible water bottle. At about 9:00 pm I went back out on the streets to look for my water bottle. The people were partying all over the streets.
The very narrow and crisscrossing streets were packed with the Saturday night crowd of locals. I carried my little map and the name of the restaurant, Sevilla. Several people pointed to where I needed to go and gave me a few set of directions in Spanish. One man actually got off his bar stool and walked me there. As I wrote last night there was no water bottle when I got there, but I loved wandering the streets in the dark. After I wrote the blog last night, I tried to sleep. I found that my mind still keeps me awake when I think I have done something foolish.