camino de santiago

There were quite a few gin and tonics had last night. There were also black out curtains in our massive room at the Parador. The bed was so comfortable, I really felt I had become one with it. All this contributed to a very late start. We woke up around 7.30am and went back for a snooze and then debated missing breakfast. Please! Who were we fooling. Breakfast at the Parador hotel is like dining in Buckingham Palace. {Well I haven’t been invited for breakfast yet, it’s just how I imagine it would be} There was a whole island laden down with pastries, breads, sweet cakes and jam. There was another aisle with bright fresh mouth wateringly good fruit. Hell there was even champagne if you were that way inclined. Now, usually when in a fancy hotel I would normally go for the exact opposite of what I really want. Come on, you know what I am talking about. We all do it. You go for the fruit and yogurt, a bit of cheese and maybe some cured meat. One just can’t be seen to be making an animal of oneself in such an establishment. This morning all that was forgotten about as I piled high the frittatas, the bacon and delicious chorizo. There was some fruit added just for colour, mind you it was hardly noticeable under the mountain of pan au chocolat and croissants. I don’t believe we said two words to each other that breakfast other than “Seconds?” which naturally led to thirds. There was a table of cyclists beside us who where just chowing down on plates of boiled eggs, so I didn’t feel too bad for myself on my last trip for cake and coffee. They had a fast paced race ahead of them and I a long slow walk which I needed all the carbs for. By the time we rolled back to our room and said farewell to this magnificent hotel it was gone 9am. (Seriously when in my life time would I ever have considered 9am late?).

It’s a bit of a trek to get out of León. When we were on the outskirts of the town we passed an Irish bar. Which made us giggle! We are everywhere!

We walked past these wine cellars on the way out of León just before you get to the long boring industrial walk before La Virgen del Camino. When we walked passed them some looked like they had been turned into houses. Either way they are super pretty to look at.

Over an hour later and much application of sunscreen which is melting off us in the morning heat, we stop at a petrol station. The effects of last nights drinks has taken hold and I feel as hydrated as a the bottom of my dusty tennis shoe. Water and many jelly sweets later we leave. I am over compensating for being groggy and offer to put the precious cargo in my rucksack, Sean insists he will take it, No PLEASE LET ME! This continues for at least a minute more before I agree that Sean should just take the lot. Grogginess has formed the opinion that Sean is being a eejit.

It was just after this literal road sign for the bar that we have a tête a tête. (Hold up background info) So when I was a child I was a deep thinker, I could ponder the world for hours. I would have amazing ideas and theories, I was fecking brilliant at solving the worlds problems and my own. Because of this extraordinary talent I could resolve any confrontational matter in moments with the cleverest of words. The only problem was, I just was never great at verbalising those thoughts out loud, into the real world. Which would lead to major frustration on my part. Why could they just not understand where I was coming from and what I was thinking?? Most likely it caused those around me an immense amount of irritation too, as the projected effect was me throwing an almighty sulk which could last for weeks. If only the Olympics had a category for sulking! I seriously would have won gold each time! (Flash forward to day 12 of Kate and Seans walk). I am doing my best not to sulk and have a happy demeanor. The kango hammer in my head has other ideas. A full on sulk has been ensuing since we left the petrol station. Sean has noticed this. My face always betrays me so I must look like I constipated bull. So it’s at this point Sean turns to me and says. “Go back to León and then get the train back to Burgos and start walking. I just can’t be looking at your face any longer! There is enough guilt on this Camino without having to look at You!” (there was more hurled by both of us, but I don’t know ye well enough to share it all!). With that he high tails it off up the road. WELL! I just stand there, quite frankly I am shocked. Sean has never so much as raised his voice to me in his life! In a matter of seconds the following goes through my head as I turn, rage with frustration!

“WTF just happened there? Why is he mad with me? Sure, he is the one ruining MY trip! MY DREAM! He should just jog on now. Fecking cheek of him. Sure, wasn’t I the bigger fool walking insane miles everyday just to keep up with that insane 28 day schedule, then we took a train so we can be back home on time. Watch him walking off, I’ll show him, I’ll get back on that train and walk the rest of this on my own. Ya, then I can walk at a normal pace I can go exploring, have awesome everyday day adventures instead of ALWAYS WALKING! And I don’t even have to ask for my passport or money I have it all in my bag. “Oh CRAP, I.HAVE.IT.ALL.IN.MY.BAG!!!! I have everything in my rucksack!! I can’t turn back! OHMYGOD! Did he know this when he had his outburst? He must of, he must have known he wouldn’t have been able to pay for anything or get a flight home? I swing around with the evilest of eyes prepared to give him my best *death stare* yet! I am fully expecting him to be standing there in front of me as I do. Nope, Sean is gone, marching down the road like he is going into battle! Great, I think! What a waste of the evils! Standing there in the middle of this place called Villares de Orbigo, I finally cop myself on. The sulk leaves me. I am going to have to eat humble pie for weeks. Yes, this was my dream, it wasn’t Sean’s. He didn’t have to join me, he could have stayed at home and not had to put up with my appalling behavior, or face for that matter! I didn’t have to get on the train in Burgos, but I did because I wanted us to walk into Santiago together. TOGETHER!!! So why on earth I am standing here alone with a passport in my hand watching his mirage get smaller and smaller? Head down I start walking towards Sean. Not in any major rush like, just fast enough so I don’t lose track of him.

Eventually he stops for a bite to eat in the square of a hamlet. I sit down at the opposite side of the square and take out what ever provisions I have in my bag. He sits ignoring me, I sit boring large holes into the back of his head. Its a stand off. I sure as hell am not going over to him. Well not right at this minute. I notice two woman enjoying this silent battle. Both in their 80s, in adorable house coats. They smile and wink at me, laughing to teacher blabbering away in Spanish. I almost crack my face smiling back at them. I laugh then. How many times must they have seen something like this between couples on the Camino. ALL.THE.TIME I bet. Sean finishes his snack and strolls over. In-spite of myself I smile. I will never tire of looking at his bright blue eyes. They get me every time. “Want some water?” he asked. I stand and say sorry. He should know me well enough by now to know I need time to process stuff. He nods and says he is sorry too. When we start walking again I say “You knew I had the wallet and the passport right?” there is a slight delay in his answer. To this day I am still not if he was just calling my bluff!

The walk is long and slow that afternoon. We are both tired from the late night and exhausted by our outburst. The landscape is so mundanely flat. Don’t get me wrong, its beautiful, but really, really flat. So it feels like you are not moving at all. Finally we reach Villar de Mazarife. Due to our budgetary circumstances we opt to stay in the charming “Casa de Jesús.” Indeed, it was different. When we check in it’s already ten to two in the afternoon and the place is jointed. The lady who checks us in also seems to be cooking dinner for crowd. Its seems that she is not overly impressed by our interruption. I note how all the walls in the dining room are covered in drawings and quotes. I was not expecting the entire building to be covered. Every square inch of the building and floors were covered in marker, pen and pencil!

More of the giant bird nests that are becoming more of a frequent talking point. I reckon that this part of Spain has a serious Pterodactyl infestation.

Awh Julia! This was one of our memorable moments. Having decided to cook dinner we took a walk to “the shop.” Now Julia maintained that she could not speak English. Yet she was able to help me add ingredients to the bolognese that Sean was cooking. She sold me garlic in cloves instead of bulbs, made me put back and extra pepper. She effectively portion controlled our shopping! She was awesome. So helpful and wished us well with our romantic dinner and a Bon Camino. Sean went back into ask to take her picture but she was busy with another customer. Later that evening he went back to get more wine. Julias daughter was there as were some local kids. Sean asked her daughter to use the change to get the kids some sweets each. Apparently it was like Christmas for a few minutes in the shop with the kids going bananas at this treat. Julias daughter who also didn’t speak English told the kids ” Say thank you to the Señor” “THANK YOU” the all chimed back! Just adorable! I love that story!

Before heading back to our digs for the night we stop in a bar for some late lunch. Once again we are joined by a million flies and this time some wasps. I still there in the blistering sunshine googling like a crazy woman trying to understand the flies. To no avail. 🙁 Once again it’s Kates Lunch Zero, flies ONE.

Thankfully we got in early or late enough to get a room that just slept two. We didn’t have to sleep outside on the balcony.

There were times when I missed friends something terrible on our walk. Every now and then though I would see a reminder or suggestion of various friends. Like Snoopy below. There was a friend who just like me thinks that our boys are just plain stupid at times. She also loves Snoopy I jumped up and down when I saw the glass and exclaimed to Sean it was like Edelle was here!

Word of advise when cooking dinner in an albergue, which I have probably said before. Get in early! It is great fun to cook with loads of fellow pilgrims, in fact it can be a challenge when the kitchen is small and there are 20 of you in there. The busiest times seemed to be from six to eight with people often waiting to get in to cook. Can you just imagine the *hanger?* We started cooking between four and half five to combat this. That night Sean cooked and I was never so grateful in my entire life.

The rest of the evening was spent reading walls and wondering about the bedbug situation. Mostly reading walls and drinking wine though. To any one who received a dozen images of someone else’s written ramblings that night I can only say SORRY!!!

The best wine ever. was sipped at while leaving our own mark on the wall. I don’t speak Irish and Sean wasn’t sure of the spelling so a message was sent to my cousins. I am sure Jen and Aine thought I was mad, but hopefully now it will all make sense. I don’t usually make a habit of scrawling on some one else’s property… but when in Rome… or Casa de Jesús for that matter!

All happy and the best of friends again! Walking the Camino with a partner, be it your other half or best friend or any one else for that matter can be challenging. I think that it best to lay out your intentions and your general plan for the trip before you leave and make sure the other understands. When we go on holidays with friends we tend to go out own ways during the day and then meet up in the evening and chat about our days adventures. Sean and myself should have implemented that idea with ourselves sooner. I guess you just don’t think of it when its just the two of you. It’s a long walk though if there is any unrest in the camp!

This was our bedroom for the night, with the door that wouldn’t close properly. You would think that when you get used to sleeping in a dorm with hundreds of people that a unclosed door wouldn’t bother you. It did, it was kinda creepy! The whole place was kinda creepy really. It was possibly the strangest place we encountered on the Camino. But hey, never judge a book by its cover. This building had positive vibes and quotes of love from literally thousands of people from across the globe. It was an oasis of happiness. The happy House of Jesus I’ve ever been into! We won’t forget it for a long, long time!

Sweet dreams!

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May 19, 2022
I’m about to walk the Camino from France and was just looking up each leg of the journey and read your blog from Leon to Villar de Mazarife. Great reading .I loved it Kate. Maybe you should write a complete book about it. I’ve got to this point and o don’t even know the dates you travelled.
    May 19, 2022
    Thanks Scott! I feel its been so long I need to go back and walk the camino again, maybe then do a book! Will keep you posted!