We spent the last day and a half in Léon in a quietish hotel catching up on our sleep. It’s a town of about 150K people. It feels a bit strange to be in a big city after spending so much time out in the midst of nowhere. We kept seeing these bridal groups that were out doing their bachelor/bachelorette thing but it seemed like an inordinate number so we wondered if May might be the start of bridal season here rather than June. We saw perhaps a dozen or so groups, some in a quasi costume, at least bunny ears or matching hats or T’s. Different but not so different.
Desgraciadamente, leaving a big city almost always includes a mildly unpleasant walking environment. Industrial suburban sprawl. But once we cleared that it was pleasant again. Each day has surprised me as we enter slightly new terrain, this one maybe slightly reminiscent of the Southwest, like New Mexico perhaps. We walked on a lane-ish wide clay path with rocks between golf ball and grapefruit sized imbedded in the soil. And on either side were low scrubby shrubs interspersed with these little fiery yellow flowering shrubs. They’re funny because the basic structure of the plant is black or blackish brown so they actually look kind of dead, but then it has these fiery yellow gold flowers, so are obviously not dead.
Once you get out of the industrial sprawl, you absolutely have the feeling of being on your own little planet. We only saw a handful of cars and even a handful of other people in 6+ hours of walking. It’s strange because you stop in these little cafés for breakfast or snacks and you might head out with a handful of other folks. But then 15 or 20 minutes later you can’t see anyone either ahead or behind, anyone anywhere. It feels very remote but not desolate, only peaceful.
I’m especially cognizant of this now that we’ve left the little group we were walking with. It was a small group so there was plenty of time for quiet, but now that it’s just the two of us, it truly apparent. The mountains have reappeared off our right shoulder, in the distance, keeping us company.
We stopped for drinks in a little hamlet called Chozas de Abajo and saw something particularly strange in this land of ancients, a completely modern church but pretty in its own right. And then we walked a last 5K to where we are now, Villar de Mazarife and a very pretty little albergue called Albergue de San Antonio de Padua. We will have an entirely vegetarian dinner, which is a rarity. I’d feel a bit sorry for my vegetarian friends here because I think you’d have to accept some fake vegetarianism (I.e. Lentils cooked with bacon), or only eat bread and cheese. We had one woman in our small group who grimaced and beared it a few times.
As my biking friends say, “We’re more done than not done,” and should arrive in Santiago sometime around the 20th…. I have mixed feelings about this.