Day 17: A double day.

Just the facts
Day 17: Leon to Vilar de Mazarife to Hospital de Oebigo
Distance: 23 miles / 37 km
Time: 6.75 hours
Total to date: 308 miles / 496 km

Leaving Leon takes time, it’s suburbs are extensive. Off the pavement the gently rolling hills felt like the camino again. I came to a fork in the road where pilgrims have to choose one route or the other. In the middle of the fork was a note left for a pilgrim. Rock, scissors, paper.

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Later, I very nearly stepped on a bird. It eventually flew off, but not without a lot of encouragement.

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The last interesting bit on that stretch of Camino was an old man occupying space in the shade of some oak trees, the only shady spot on a very long, very empty stretch of road. His spaniel was stretched out in the shade trying to stay cool. Near his bicycle lay an array of newly peeled walking sticks. Thinking of him pedaling and balancing and keeping all those sticks out of the spokes reminded me of bicycling home from the lake as a kid. It took skill to control the bike with a long cane pole in one hand and a bucket of fish in the other. Anyway, I chatted with the man for a minute or two, then asked if I could take his picture. But of course. And as so often happens, his happy eyes disappeared and he adopted a serious look. A friendly goodbye and I strode off as a potential customer approached.

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I arrived at the albergue at 11:00, showered, washed clothes, all the normal stuff. And there I sat. After four hours I still hadn’t seen a single familiar face. It was still early so I packed up and made tracks. It was a long day, especially the afternoon hike in the 90+ degree heat.

My second albergue of the day has a wonderful feeling about it. There are 18 beds in my room and many friendly faces, though no familiar ones. The walls are covered with pilgrim art, some of it very nice! The two women who run the albergue are welcoming and gentle. A bonus: they constantly bring in branches loaded with cherries to refill the very large bowl near the entrance.

20130706-222820.jpg Pilgrims are asked to park their sticks at the door.

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The doors are locked and the lights go out at 10:00 in most of the albergues. They aren’t being mean, they’re just making sure the pilgrims get their rest. And now I’m going to get mine.