Monday, September 2nd

Leaving Leon. Crossing the San Marcos bridge.

And now on the footbridge over the railway line ..

And through the outer suburbs of Leon. The kind of suburbs that Tom Waits would be happy in.

The bodegas. Kind of look like hobbit-holes.

Virgen del Camino
I'm in the Virgen of the Camino, and having the passport stamped at a bar to prove it. Not as good as I thought it would be, but the coffee is sensational, and the croissant is the size of a very large crab.

And I finally feel like I'm back on the Camino again. Gravel walks, and, on the road another pilgrim named Esta has left a very large painted message that "this is the good way". Thanks, Elsa, cheered me up no end.
And I'm heading for another Virgen. Two in one day.
Walking solo, mostly, but for a short time with Eric, French. It's his first day, as he began at Leon. He plans to do many kilometers every day. He wears sandals, so he won't last. Bonne chance, mate.

San Miguel del Camino
Must've gone through the second Virgen without even noticing, unless it was that really ugly thing back there.

More hobbit-holes.

And this place is called Urbanization. True. Urbanization. It's like renaming Collingwood 'Working Class', or Balwyn 'Desperately Seeking Status' or Belgrave 'Beautiful'. Still, I've stopped at Urbanization for a short rest. The drinks machine outside what looks like a truckers cafe had slots for dimes, nickels and quarters. Odd.
Still, the walk has been good, although there's been changes made to The Way since Raju's book was published. The split between the Villadangos and the Alternative route was easy enough, but Raju says to go under both, italicized, tunnels, but there is only one. There is now anyway. Then just basically following a slip road which parallels the main road.
Traffic, and lots of it, but only had to walk on the main road itself for a short time, but, for some really disturbing reason, the song I couldn't shift from its loop in my head was Neil Diamond's "Song Sung Blue." Lordy, I hate that song. I must be going senile.

a little later
Well well, there's a doggie. It's muzzled. I'm glad to see that, should be more of it.

Villadangos del Paramo
Otherwise, the 'Dangerous Village on the Bleak Plateau'. I'm not sure of 'Dango' is 'dangerous', it might be something else. Still, the refugio at the moment smells of cooking fat and detergent, and the triple bunks remind one instantly of photographs of concentration camps. Still, I'm in. It's a bed. And I'm beginning to detect a third aroma in the mix. Hmm, I suspect chlorine.

Down to the Autoservicio, and grew slightly older waiting. No, you can't pick your own fruit, "Fruit Is Me!" said one of the two girls that appear to run this place, they certainly do everything. FruitIsMe also had to cut meat for the three other customers, old locals, each of whom looked like they were stocking up, needing months of supplies. FruitIsMe at the chopping black, whack whack, skinning the fat off. In the freezer there's what actually looks like a skinned dog, a small, complete dog. Body, tail, legs, head, complete with eyeballs. It looked a little stunned.
Eventually got around to the fruit. Oranges, peaches and a banana which I'm going to mash into a baguette. At least I think it's a baguette.

The iglise here is meant to have Saint Jacques, as Santiago Matamoro, as the centre piece of it's retablo. Pity it's closed, as usual. They always are, maybe there's just not enough priests to go around these days, so they have to share them. But I did get to see the carvings on the door, again, with Saint James as Moorslayer.

Still, I'm in one of the bars, and the bar chick is a sweetie, even got the raciones. You're supposed to be given them when you order a beer, but not every place does. Some places you have to ask for them, which excludes me, as I don't know the Spanish for "and where the feckin' hell are all the feckin' freebies then ?"
Anyway, there's three bars in town. One's closed; another's having renovations done, with the footpath around it ripped up, and scaffolded, which leaves this one, apparently a two-star hostel.
The TV is on, more Latino type quivering, as usual.

But the next video clip started sedately, some diva sitting in a chair. I'm betting she's quivering by the end of it.

Yep! there she goes, hey, Nina Pastori, shake yer booty ...

a little later
Bar Arguella
I thought this was closed, but no, miracles do happen. Every table is taken with card-playin'. cigar-smokin' hombres de Villadangos. Slappin' 'em down.
Managed to squeeze into the bar. Maybe my order for a Double Coffee was a little poofy or something, but he didn't quite get the 'grun-day', or 'largo' or 'big' part, and ended up with the normal. Whatever.
Read for a bit. Then out.

And back to the Libertad, the first place, it's quieter. The TV's still on, and Renaldo, the soccer player, is dominating the news for some reason. Something to do with Real Madrid. Bur now there's images of Harrison Ford hand-in-hand with Calista Flockheart.

Still here. Reading Zen. 'Secretos del Amor' is on TV and there's more TV bitches than is possible in the one show. All straight hair, all conniving, all with pouty looks. Occasionally the bar chick checks out the action of Secretos. Maybe she doesn't have to concentrate too hard to get the plot. Hell, I get the plot, and I can't understand a word they're saying.
There's two old guys at the bar, and I'm wondering why they aren't down playin' cards with the other hombres.
Oh my, now that was surely the town tart who just walked out. Middle forties, makeup caked on, and still wearing hotpants, with her saggy buttcheeks sort of hanging below the hems. Ugly, really ugly. She certainly wouldn't get a role in 'Secretos del Amor'.

And this pilgrim couple have matching walking boots. How cute.

And by sheer fluke, wandered down to the iglise again, and lo and behold, it's open. And yes, in the middle of the retablo is the Moorslayer himself, redlit by the window behind him, it's quite dramatic, it's almost as though he's leaping out, sword in hand. It's a different Saint James though, even his hat is different. This one's three-cornered, no upturned front, no scallop shells adorning it. As well as the sword, he's holding a spear, and there's a red and white flag draped from it, with golden tassels. It almost resembles the French balises.

I think maybe providence just happened in the iglise. Rita just happened to be there, a pilgrim from Portugal but also fluent in English. Who willingly translated the stories told by Gloriana, a local, in her 90's at least.

She told the entire story of Santiago. Of how the story of the Moorslaying Santiago is a lie, about how he didn't kill anybody. About his death, and Jerusalem, about the boat that carried him to Spain, and Finisterre, about Queen Lupa and the miracles, the dragon that splits into two, and the bulls that immediately become tame, about the Field of Stars, and the finding of the body and the Cathedral being built.

It was just so fortuitous. One of those moments. Just happened to walk down to the iglise, it just happened to be open, just happened that someone who could translate was there, and willing to do so, and that Gloriana was here, and willing to tell the story.
I'll remember this town fondly, just for that moment.

and also for Barbara, whom I talked with for quite some time at the albergue, and explaining to me how to get from Madrid to the airport. Underground Metro. Easy.

Two pilgrims just strolled in. Where the hell have they come from? They looked neat, and so tidy, and there boots are clean.

Just finished Part 2 of Zen, reading by the garden light out the front of the albergue.