There has been a very distinct shift in the last few days; the pin has dropped on many different fronts. One, I am now traveling with just one other Canadian, Stef, who I have been with since the beginning of this walk in St. Jean. We took the bus from Carrion De Los Condes to León, leaving behind quite the crew of characters who made their way so quickly into my heart and so often had me in absolute stitches of laughter all the time. If I come home with some semblance of a toned stomach despite the consistent diet of baguettes and churros, it is to their credit and not the 30 ish kilometers I am walking each day.
With our bus trip, there has been a shift in the way I am counting the days; I have gone from counting how many days I've been going at this thing to how many days I have left; instead of kilometers traveled I am counting k's to go (from 815k's to start I have whittled it down to 240k's thank you very much. I have also decided to count distance traveled in kilometers and distance left in miles to make the numbers sound more intense and tolerable, respectively). I think we have about 8 more days of walking, maybe 9. It seems so short now!
While passing time between waiting for the bus at 11am and getting shoo'd out of the albergue (hostel) at 8am, I wrote in my journal, and it was like everything had words and meaning, and everything I've been mulling over had a name and a category. The flood gates have opened. Instead of concentrating on not twisting an ankle and when the next town will be, my thoughts have shifted and my mind is clearing. This too has been a change.
Carrion de Los Condes was a really special stop. It was our last night with our large cooky gang and we ran in to Oz and Sherry, a hilarious and sweet couple from Virginia who we thought had gone on much further. We all stayed in an albergue run by nuns from Madrid. At check-in the informed us there would be a meeting at 5pm, and asked if anyone played guitar, alluding to a sing-along. We dutifully showed up, and sat in a circle with people from all over the world. We were instructed to go around and say our name, country, and why we're doing the camino. It's so crazy how, when in a room with five or so different languages, you can piece together what each person is talking about, because, more or less, we all are here for the same reasons; to be refreshed and encouraged, to seek peace and clarity. We were handed song sheets in Spanish of hymns and funny folk songs, and giggled as we muddled through. It was a really beautiful moment that should have been a really silly thing, but somehow was profound and very, very special.
The last two nights have been some of my favorites. Though the walk out of León was very boring, right beside a highway the whole time and nothing to look at except industrial wastelands, the evening at the albergue was picturesque. We stayed in a quirky house with a stone floored courtyard, and a garden. The bathrooms were even outside in this little square! through a pathway under the rooms there was the kitchen to the right, and out back there was a garden and clothes washing area. We shared dinner with Reed, a 19 year old from Virginia who is going to be president someday (seriously), and shared the dinner table with four French and one Italian. While we were winding up dinner, the Frenchman, Bernard, started to sing, and the French serenade lasted about an hour. Again, it was a lovely night filled with far away music.
Wednesday was a great day despite the heavier rain in the morning. We started off in farm land and we are back to that red clay path I find so beautiful, and walked through shrubs and meadows with birds singing the whole day. There were a lot of towns we walked through that had a lot of ruins from old houses that had been knocked down, and I always find myself wondering who lived there when it was a house, and what their life was like.
We stayed at an adorable private albergue run by a young hippie from Astoria in El Ganso. We had dinner with a cute couple from Florida who are doctors and had a lengthy conversation about the history of diseases and how they spread through travel, and the history of genes. Sounds dry but Craig could read the phone book and it would be fascinating! Dawn you can tell is made of roses inside, with the kind of listening eyes that make you want to pour your whole story out.
It rained all day today, and I climbed a mountain. I was all by myself and literally in a cloud, and in forest and fields the whole time. Even though it was pouring all day, it was my favorite by far. The scenery is stunning and refreshing me step by step. Tonight we have a communal dinner in our hostel in the cutest town ever (I wasn't planning on stopping here so I have no idea what the name of the town is, and I went straight to this bar to eat!)