Wednesday, August 28th

leaving Sahagun
On the bridge, over the river Cea. Somewhere nearby is the miraculous forest.

I'll pretend it's the forest over there, in the caravan park, the 'Camping Pedro Ponce', sounds like a good place for 40,000 Christians to get themselves slaughtered, after the lances they'd stuck into the ground transformed themselves into trees, roots, trunk, branches and leaves.

Okay, I've passed the point where the Camino splits for a while. The Camino Real Frances, and the Camino de los Peregrinos. Choosing the Real Frances, hope I've made the right choice. If I haven't, then I have to remember that you always get your first choice in life. I think Alison Lurie said that.

And yes, there's the laguna, just as the guide book said it would be. The Laguna de los Chopos.

And the Ermina, the old hospice, but instead of a crucifix, we have the Saint James Cross. Fair enough.

A grave, no, a monument:

Peregrino a Santiago
Manfress Kress Friedrich

I feel lucky to be walking on, but the next kilometre is for you, Manfress.

The bar. Coffee and donut, the breakfast of champion peregrinos.
Thinking stuff. Thinking about being a father, and being a son, and like Loudon Wainwright III said, I am just the middle man. Thinking about what kind of middle man I am. I think this may be one of my reasons for walking the Camino.
The road between Sahagun and El Burgo Ranero is described in one book as "geographically featureless", and in another as "bleak". There's a few other pilgrims on the road, some bikie ones, another two, who look like father and daughter, waiting at a bus stop that looked literally shot to shite. One other pilgrim leaving this bar as I arrived.

Still, I don't care if it's 'featureless', it was a great walk, the sun on my back, a gentle breeze on my face, a sky that reminded me of the opening title sequence of The Simpsons, and just being able to think about the stuff that maybe I was meant to walk the 1500kms of the Camino to think about.

El Burgo Ranero
The albergue doesn't open until one. Whatever. Another pilgrim arrived at Bercianos as I was leaving, but there was no-one behind me, I know that. Not in visible range anyway, and the Way was flat, and absolutely straight. Reached the albergue, and well, whaddya know, pilgrims en masse are just rockin' up.

Just mended the hole in the 'scientifically designed' walking sock. I don't think they were scientifically designed to walk this far. Still, I'm feeling good for having mended it.

Tried for Siesta, but it proved impossible. First, the fake pilgrims, the overweight old bastards, who arrive after having just done maybe half a kilometre, grunting and groaning as if they'd really walked the hard yards. They book in, get a bed, talk, continue grunting and groaning, as though they're trying to actually convince the real pilgrims that they, too, are real. Listen fatbastard, you know you're a fake, I know you're a fake, so can we please just stop the game.
Second, there's the younger of the two hospitaleros, who speaks loudly to anybody that's downstairs, or calls out to anybody else that just happens to be passing down the street outside. It's a beautiful, adobe building, but quite small, and his voice is thunderous. I don't mind the classical music playing downstairs, though it too could be turned down a notch or two. Maybe they just assume that everybody here is a fake.
So, with a loud "Jesus Christ, just feckin' shut up," I went wanders, expecting to be told to leave for blasphemy, but no, I'm still here.

Wanders. The Saint Pedro iglise is locked, as usual, there's groups of kids loitering on one corner, another group of old men in the shade of another building who eye me suspiciously, and old woman in black, bent, with a walking stick. Restored houses, a mix of brick and adobe, quite charming. Saw the lake, the one that's supposed to be full of frogs, as 'El Burgo Ranero' roughly translates into 'Frog Town'.

Outside the bar, and a flock of sheep being moved, followed by the shepherd. There's two guys at the next table discussing how you have to put 'spiritual' or 'religious' as your reason for doing the Camino, when you arrive in Santiago, otherwise you get absolutely zip credit for doing it. You don't get the credential. Their conversation then turns to how fast it can be done. The one talking about doing 30kms a day, at least, has buggered feet. He's just limped over the road, and yes, his feet are blistered and antisepticed, and his toes resemble pulp. I'd say he's definitely got religious reasons, as well as spiritual blisters, holy toes, crucified tendons, pieta'd knees ..
While in the bar, the men are playing cards. Probably some regional variation on poker, it involves holding cards, then slappin' them down, almost violently, on the table, while another keeps score.

Met Tim. One of the 'hey, put down spiritual' guys, and he's up to 50kms walking each day. He's a professor of Semetic Languages at some University in Israel. From the way he talks, he has little but contempt for Christian pilgrimages. To him, it's purely sport, to be able to say it only took 20 days, and to finish it in less time than it took his son, who completed it last year. He's still trying to prove himself better than his son.

later still
In the kitchen, making tea, and talking to Bearnt and Peter. Discussions about European History, and Bearnt's knowledge was encyclopaedic, leading into discussions, over dinner, about the New Right in Germany, about the 30 Year War which shaped Europe's destiny, and about working for IBM and the Deutsche Bank. Peter remodels supermarkets, and in his spare time, configures computer networks. Bejaysus, these guys are awesome. Just a pity they're bikie pilgrims, so I probably won't see them again.