camino de santiago

So this morning we leave for the train station. On waking late again this morning “we” decide it best to take the train to León. I still do not want to walk into Santiago without Sean. So I think I am good with this decision. It’s me, so of course there is a pinky promise made. We have to come back in April and walk the 120km that we are now missing AND we have to stay in the Parador hotel in León. The request to stay in the hotel has less, in fact nothing to do with the film “The Way” than it does, to being part of something greater. Like a promise to a friend. Anyway, with these two conditions agreed to, I get out of bed and pack my freshly laundered clothes into my still smelly rucksack. We go for one last walk around the lovely Burgos. Strolling across the square we spy Brad from Pittsburgh, we walk over for a chat. We first came across this chap in Azofra, though we didn’t get to stroll with him until a day later. We walked and shared stories on the way up a hill into a small toy town town that sold cans of ice cold coke for 10cent! Brad has been to Ireland many times and spoke of his love of the west coast. While walking with him that day both myself and Sean commented how uncanny the resemblance between Brad and our friends Peter Jackson is. He speaks with the same husky tones, same height, same mannerisms and sense of humour. I think this is why we always are drawn to him. Or is that we miss our friends so are now seeing them mirrored in others? Anyway, Brad is in bits, he has had shin splints now for the past four days. Looking at him every step has him at breaking point though he doesn’t say it out loud. He said that he would love another day of rest here, just for his legs, but he is worried about the cost of a hotel for the night. We suggest that he just stay in a different albergue? Its common knowledge that unless in an extreme circumstance you can not stay in a an albergue for more than one night. As far as we know there are no rules against staying in different ones in the same towns? We tell him of an albergue in the city that we passed only this morning, its close by. Come on risk it for a biscuit I say, all they can say is no. I am praying this is not the case though! As we turn back to show Brad where to go we get stopped by group of Americans. Okay, by group I mean four. Of the four, one was a professor and writing a book on the camino. His wife had stopped to take a picture of the cathedral and was delighted to find us three real life pilgrims. (I should point out it was late in the morning, but not late enough that the next wave of pilgrims would be arriving. We did look some what out of place) We laughed and posed for the picture. Who knows, that picture of Sean, Brad and I could be shown in a lecture hall from time to time some where in the states. Kinda funny, I wonder what those students looking at the image make of us. What are their preconceived notions of us, or do they look at it only for the sake of paying attention?

At the train station we meet Cheryl and Larry, Jacqs introduced us to them last night on the way to dinner. Its turns out that they are doing the same route as us. Sean chats to them, while I am feeling very unsettled across the hall. On the platform we meet various people who are going home due to money running out, injuries, or personal reasons. We also meet those that are skipping the next 120kms due to time running out and injuries. Everyone is subdued. I wonder is it just because I am feeling not myself, I am quiet and don’t feel like talking to anyone on the platform. On the train the camino guilt kicks in with full force. Its like I have been kicked in the stomach a number of times. I want to cry so bad but I won’t. I fear if I do I won’t stop. As the train leaves the station I see myself getting up and running to the door and trying to pull it open. I sit there though, in my seat a hurricane of emotions raging inside me. I am fuming with anger while at the same time drowning in sorrow. The camino guilt is an odd thing. I think I may have mentioned it before? We have walked so far in the last ten or eleven days, to be skipping any part of the trail for any reason, feels like cheating. It feels so so wrong. I feel like I am cheating myself, cheating on friendships made here, cheating on the true meaning of this walk. I am so angry at this feeling of guilt and cheating I cant even breath. I am also so irrevocably sad at the thoughts of never seeing Douglas and Jacqs again. We have known them such a short time, but that wee bond it meant the world. I feel like I am leaving them behind. Did I mention the sheer blinding all consuming anger I have? My dream was to walk this walk in full no trains or buses, not in a rush or deadline. Of course this anger all gets directed at Sean, I can’t bare to look at him, knowing full well that if I do I will cry or break his face. What was I thinking making a stupid pinky promise? I do not want to be here, right now on this train feeling this alien feelings. Clearly I am so lost to all these feelings, I have lost contact with reality. I had a choice this morning. Sean said we could go on together or we could split and he would take the train. Leaving me to live the dream and walk the whole Camino. I had a choice and I chose to do this together. Meaning I have no one else to blame but myself for being on the train. I do not see this until a few days later. I did try to write in my journal on the two hour trip. My hands were shaking so much at first I didn’t want to write my thoughts. As It turned out I took a picture of my beloved diary instead. Monday 22nd September 2015, was my last ever entry.

Off the train we gather ourselves, I am still seething but mostly just fecking tired from being angry. As a rule I am never angry. I let things go over my head. Its so exhausting being mad or holding grudges, just let them go is my motto. Refreshed after a trip to the loo, I try to be more calm and make the most of the day that is left. As we are walking outside the station Sean turns to me and asks if I have his phone. “No” and its a snarl that comes out, clearly I’m not ready to let go! “No, I don’t have your phone” In that split second we both realise he has left the phone on the train in the seat pocket. The same place he leaves everything.every.single.time. We turn and see the train is still in at the platform. “GO” I yell as we both turn and run. In doing so I my own phone falls from my pocket, a kind man picks it up and hands it to me while I usher Sean to jog on. I catch up with Sean as he is running down the platform yelling at the controller to stop. Lets pause here: Now its not that Sean loves the actual phone for its looks or the way its contours feel in his hand, it’s more the thought of losing all his images of this trip and memories of past trips, not to mention the losing contacts and perhaps any contact, that isn’t his crazed wife, that has him running down that platform. I stop running as Sean slows to a stop. The train and his key to the outside world of friendly people have gone….

We run up to the glass desk and with google translate we try and explain what has happened. The lady behind the glass looks at us like we have actually lost our marbles! She speaks with some colleagues and makes a phone call. Although it sounds like she is screaming at her colleague I can imagine that she was is calmly saying” These two eejits, what do they want me to do, will you sort them out!” We look at this new face pressed against the green glass, and are shocked by the response. “Yes we have your phone, the train is due back to this station at ten pm, be here to collect it, thank you” We stand agape. Looking at this mustached Spanish man and burst into THANK YOUS and then GRACIAS!!! I certainly wasn’t expecting that Sean would get his phone back at all? Would this have happened at home…

Strolling in totally the wrong direction to the hotel we stop for a beer and to use my phone!

An hour later we check into the STUNNING Parador de León hotel. I am smiling as we check in. I am thinking of and thanking Jacqs for this. She had mentioned it over dinner that this would be her treat when she got to León. A nights stay in this place. I feel like its a wee gift from Jaqcs on this god awful Tuesday afternoon. I am also smiling as thanks to the credential we get our nights stay for half nothing. It is one of the most beautiful hotels we have ever EVER stayed in. Its because of the hotel that we have no memories of León. After a shower and a nap. We spent almost four whole hours walking around the hotel and monastery. So peaceful. Just what the doctor ordered.

Everyone had said visit the Cathedral in León. When we finally got there it was closing so we found a seat in a bar outside, got comfortable and waited for the bells to toll Seven so we could eat. This square is where we first saw a student playing a trumpet and entertaining kids by juggling. I wish I had taken a photo earlier of him, to have now. We didn’t know it then but we would end up meeting him and a group of others. Little did I know that I would stand up for the student called Jakob one night telling a french man that he was wrong and would be better off keeping his opinions to himself. More on that later!

Only in Spain to they serve the world’s best Gin and Tonics in LARGE servings. Which made me tipsy which mad Sean giggle!

Somewhat giddy from the G&Ts and from being up so late. We find a shop down a wee alleyway and buy the worlds biggest box of chocolates that we can find. On a scrap of paper write the lady and staff at the train Station a thank you note. We use the translation app as sign language doesn’t transcribe so well to paper. We say how thankful we are, that we think they are amazing, they don’t know what it means to have our phone back, to have all our photos back. We were a bit gushy thanks to the G&TS! Rather proudly we head to the station and wait for the train to clear and for the package to be delivered. Its all a bit cloak and dagger when it’s passed over. When we show the boxes of chocolates and the note there are smiles all around. It felt way less dodgy than it had done a few minutes previous. The funniest part though was when she read the note. She produced a biro and started correcting our mistakes smiling and nodding as she went. Just like a teacher. I was full on expecting a B+ and a smiley face when she handed back our note!

If you happen to be making León a place of rest on your Camino and if you can afford it, I would highly recommend a nights relaxation here in this wonderful hotel. Delicious beds that you can’t get out of and the breakfast….*licks* lips just thinking about it.

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