Day 28 - Astorga to Rabanal del Camino

Date: June 1, 2015

Location: From: Astorga To: Rabanal del Camino

Mileage: 20.6 km

Weather: Cloudy and overcast and slightly warm but nice day to walk

Temperature: 56° F at 6:00 a.m. and 70° F at 5:30 p.m.

Lodging and Cost: Hostel Refugio - 35€

GPS Location: ’42.482439” N and ’ -6.285066” W

Highlights: Great walk early this morning and meeting a lot of people along the way.

Summary of the Day:

I woke up at 5:00 a.m. and just laid there for a few minutes thinking about some of the issues on the trail from Astorga to Rabanal for the past couple of months and now I’m here with decisions to be made. Back in April there was a woman abducted in this area and she has not been seen or heard from since. Additionally, there have been several more attempted attacks. The national Police as well as the Civil Guard are investigating all of this. I know from my hiking experience that something will happen on the trail and then a story gets out and as the story is told it grows to greater proportions, so you have to evaluate everything at the moment and evaluate fact from fiction. The local authorities are telling people not to walk alone through this section. Well I usually get up before daylight and hike early by headlamp because I enjoy the peace and solitude and it also gets me ahead of the crowds. This is where I have to decide on what to do.

I had thought about it all and I left at 6:30 just as it was barely getting light so I would be able to see a little better in the distance and that there might be a few people on the trail. Well I guess everyone was thinking like me and when I hit the streets of Astorga there must have been about 20 people in front of me and more coming. It turned out that everyone that I talked to wanted to get this section over with. It was a great walk and even though it’s warming up, the skies were clouded over and there was a light breeze which also helped keep it cool.

I hadn’t walked for more than 20 minutes when I came up on another Peregrino and we started talking. He was from Italy. We had the best conversation for at least 45 minutes. We talked about trails in his country and the Appalachian Trail in mine, which he knew of. A few years ago he read the book’ “A Walk in the Woods” by Bill Bryson. It was funny to hear his impression of the A.T. From his understanding, bears attack often, there are cougars on the trail, and further there is no place to re-supply very often. He further thought that you don’t see people very often. It was interesting to see how much others know about us. Soon he took a break and I moved on.

The trail today was very flat and the walk was very easy. It seemed like the kms were just passing by quickly as there wasn’t too much to see that we haven’t seen already. It’s fun walking along. It gives you time to think about things and get lost in your thoughts. It wasn’t long before I came to Santa Catalina de Somoza where I saw a Bar/café so I decided to stop in and have something to drink. Believe it or not, I really wanted a cup of tea and not café con leche. Just as I was coming out to sit down, my new buddy Craig from Australia that I had met a few days before, came in. We talked and he told me that he was having some knee problems. When we finished we started walking together and walked together to Rabanal. When we got in town he ask me where I was staying and I told him in the Hostel Refugio for 35€ and he decided that he would also stay there and got a room as well.

The rest of the day went well and at 6:30 that evening Craig and I met and went to the restaurant for a good dinner. I had a salad, which I always have when possible as it’s just about the only veggies that I get, although I have starting letting them leave the tuna on and I’m now eating tuna everyday. I still have either steak, pork, or chicken, but not the seafood. I’ve been told don’t eat the Paeilla before I get to the coast or at least in more costal areas as it’s just frozen. I’m doing the same thing for the fish, and believe it or not pescado (fish) isn’t showing up much anyway. I do plan to try fish when I get out to the coast. The big fish on the menu seems to Hake. It’s supposed to be a mild non-fishey fish. I hope so.

Well after dinner we were both pretty tired so we went to our separate rooms and figured we see each other somewhere along the trail tomorrow. We pass the Cruz de Ferry tomorrow. That’s a large cross on the trail and everybody puts a stone at the base, says a prayer and then moves on. Craig said that he is going to spend a little bit of time there as his mom died 50 years ago this year, when he was just two years old. While he’s not Catholic and not extremely religious, his 82 year old dad is both Catholic and somewhat religious and wanted him to put a few special things down at the cross and remember his mom. So he brought a few things of his mom’s to put there. I figured I’d get out early so he could hike alone for a while.

All in all, today was a really great day. I’ve continued to hear singing for the past few days coming from my shoes and it’s my little fat swollen toes as they are singing praises to Salomon, the shoe company. My new Salomon shoes have been making my feet feel really good and so far no new pain or blisters. I just hope it continues. Will keep you posted. So as always…Buen Camino.

Day 27 - Villadangos Del Paramo to Astorga

Date: May 31, 2015

Location: From: Villadangos Del Paramo To: Astorga

Mileage: 28.5 km

Weather: Beautiful blue skies with no clouds until later in the day then it clouded over, but no call for rain.

Temperature: Upper 50s° F at 6:00 a.m. and in the mid 70s° F at 5:00 p.m.

Lodging and Cost: Gaudi Hotel – 50€

GPS Location: ’42.457419” N and ’ -6.056135” W

Highlights: Looking down on Hospital de Orbigo from up on the bridge. Climbing back up onto a mountain summit just beyond Santibanez de Valdeiglesia and not hearing the road or traffic in the distance.

Summary of the Day:

Woke up at 5:00 and finished packing and getting ready to leave at first light. I’ve pretty much stopped leaving before I can make out the blazes without a headlamp. I have found that you spend just about a much time looking around to find the trail as you do by just waiting an extra 15 minutes. When I left the hostel I had to unlock the door with my key to get out and drop it in a box, but after I unlocked the door the key wouldn’t come out of the lock no matter how much I tried, so I finally had to just close the door and leave the key hanging in the key hole. The key was hanging inside not outside so no one could tell that the door was unlocked.

The trail left the small village and headed back out to the path that followed the road. It wasn’t bad because there wasn’t any traffic. I came up on a woman walking alone so we started to talk or attempted. I asked her where she was from and she said Roma Italy and I told her I was from the States. We were talking in cross languages. She could speak a little Spanish, because Spanish and Italian are similar I believe, and a little English. In the end we spoke a little English and Spanish and it worked for a while. After about 30 minutes of going back and forth we both knew that we had reached the limits of both our language skills of the topics we were talking about. At that point she slowed down a little and I sped up a little and we drifted apart.

When I got to Hospital de Orbigo and stopped in to get something to eat and drink and shortly after she came in and we sat together and had breakfast. After I finished I said "Buen Camino" and left. It was really interesting seeing Hospital de Orbigo again. I stayed at the Albergue San Miguel two years ago when I was coming through. I ended up staying two nights as they were having a festival and the whole town was filled up. And now today it was empty and I only saw two people from town and four hikers passing through.

After leaving town the trail did a split. There was one of those option trails that you can take. Two years ago the option trail,went to the right and the official Camino trail went straight, but now it’s just the opposite. I’m really glad about the change because it would have put me back on the path near the road and this way I got to head off toward the mountains. It wasn’t a high mountain, but it was back in the woods and it was quiet with some nice views. I was able to walk that for over 6 kms before I starting heading into a suburb of Astorga and then I was back on a city street again. It was about 2 kms to the actual entrance to the city, but it wasn’t a bad walk. It was a lot better than Burgos. I finally got to the city.

I really like this town, and I remember my way around the city and I didn’t have to hunt with each turn. As I came into the city I came in to the main plaza and there sat Mike from Canada. He had just gotten in and was sitting in one of the outside restaurants drinking a beer. He saw me just about the same time as I saw him. I stopped and we talked for a few minutes and the I headed to the hotel to check in and get cleaned up. It had been a great day. After I got cleaned up I went back out to go to the museum and to the Cathedral to go get some pictures, but the big disappointment of the day was that both were closed as it was Sunday. Who would have guessed that a church, for that matter a cathedral, would be closed on Sunday? Well they were. I walked around and saw a few of the buildings from the outside.

Probably the next disappointment that I had today was my dinner meal. I looked around for a place with a Peregrino Menu that I wanted and found the Hotel Asturplaza Restaurant. Well I went in and they seated me but then no one came to wait on me. I sat for about 15 minutes, and I will say that we're busy, but I waited a long time and that was just to get the menu. Finally the hostess brought me the menu and went away, then in a few minutes came and took my order. She later brought my salad, but when I finished that the regular waiter came and took my plate and asked me what I wanted for desert. I told him that I hadn’t had my second course yet. He went away without saying another word. Soon I got my meal and ate. It wasn’t good, but I finished and paid so I could get out of there. I would not eat there again, even though they could just be having a bad night.

Even with the little disappointments in town it was a great day, good weather, good trail, and some good conversation. Tomorrow and all the rest of the day's should be this good. And with that I’m going to say…Buen Camino!

Day 26 - Leon to Villadango Del Paramo

Date: May 30, 2015

Location: From: Leon To: Villadangos Del Paramo

Mileage: 21.3 km

Weather: Another beautiful day without a cloud in the sky

Temperature: Upper 50s° F at 6:00 a.m and in the mid 70s° F at 2:30 p.m.

Lodging and Cost: Hostal Libertad - 35€

GPS Location: ’42.593463” N and ’ -5.766507” W

Highlights: The beautiful walk out of Leon with it just getting light enough to see and the sights of seeing the little towns and villages that you get to see.

Summary of the Day:

I was awake at 5:00 this morning and slowly packed while waiting for it to show some signs of daylight to leave town. I left the Hostal at 5:45. It seems like it is more difficult getting out of the towns than it is to walk once you’re out. There are just so many little streets that turn off the main path out and the markings aren’t well enough displayed so you spend much more time than you normally would just to leave, and today was no different. I finally got out of Leon proper but it seems like with most big cities there are little connecting suburbs that you just move from one to another so there was a lot of pavement walking early.

I’m really happy that I got out before the sun popped up. I got to the little town of La Virgin de Camino and there was a coffee shop open with a lady standing out front offering breakfast. It was too tempting and I stopped. I am glad that I did as it. Was probably one of the best cups of café con leche, if not the best that I’ve had since being in Spain. She was really working the front of her shop and in about ten minutes she had all the outside tables and chairs full and working on the inside.

After breakfast I took back off again doing a fair amount of road walking, or at least a path paralleling the road and within earshot of it. There was hardly any traffic coming through. The guidebook says that 29% of the walk today is considered road walk which is what this is. I don’t think it’s too bad if you don’t actually have to walk the pavement. I met two women from Chicago and one was having problems with shin splints and the other one is walking slowly along with her and now they are both taking the bus every few days to move forward. It wasn’t long and I moved on ahead while she stopped and waited for her friend. The trail does another one of those splits like further back where one track goes off to another set of towns and the other one keeps on the path with the book. Both are listed but the official track is in Gold arrows and the option track is in Green arrows. About two days out both paths they come back together. I think it’s a way for all the towns to share in the revenue coming in from the Camino. I don’t see anything wrong with it. Two years ago I took the green paths as they were gold then and now they have just changed the color of the arrows so I walked the gold this year to see something new.

It seemed like I moved quickly up the trail and came up on a Canadian that I had walked with for a while about a week ago. His name was Mike and he was doing a photo blog of all the people he see’s on the trail from St. Jean to Santiago. He is getting all the e-mail address’ so that he can notify everybody and they can go on his site and if they missed a picture of someone they hiked with then they can just copy it off there. He was a nice guy when we walked together a while back he was telling me that he does all his own investing and we were able to talk stocks and investing, which was interesting. I will probably meet up with him in Astorga and we could be on the same daily mileage goal. I came into the town of Villadangos del Paramo. I thought it was going to be a little bigger, but no, it has two main streets, both are as narrow as can be, but one has a constant stream of traffic roaring through. It’s strange as there isn’t much going on here but they have a bakery, a little supermarket with a butcher, a smaller la Tienda, which is like a tiny quick shop with everything in it. And a nice Hostal, which is where I am staying and of course a church. The strange part of this, is they have two big Spanish banks (La Caja Espana and Santander). I just don’t see this town or any neighboring towns being able to support one much less two. The nice thing about this is if you forget to draw cash from an ATM in Leon you got another shot at it, even though tomorrow is going to be Astorga which is a city of twelve thousand population.

I found my Hostal, not hard, and got in to my room. After cleaning up and getting something to eat, I thought that I’d walk around town, so I did. Ten minutes I was back in my room with that task complete. I really like these small towns, as long as the have a place to stay and eat. These type of towns give me a chance to have Spanish conversation even if it’s short. I can’t sustain a long conversation, only multiple short ones. This has been a great day and I’m getting ready for tomorrow and a longer walk to Astorga where I will tour the Cathedral and go to the Gaudi Museum if it is open. I only got to see some of it last time I was there. I will hopefully be able to take a lot of pictures to post to the photo gallery for you to see. So until tomorrow I will say good night and… Buen Camino.

Day 25 - Leon

Date: May 29, 2015

Location: Leon

Mileage: 0.0 km

Weather: Beautiful blue skies and warm

Temperature: 56° F at 7:30 a.m. and 72° F at 5:00 p.m.

Lodging and Cost: Albergue San Francisco – 20€

GPS Location: ’42.593463” N and ’ -5.569566” W

Highlights: The unbelievable city of Leon. Walked around all day and met up with some folks that I have met that were behind me.

Summary of the Day:

Well today was a great day. Woke up at 7:00 this morning and just laid there. It was so nice to know that I wasn’t going anywhere. I had already set up my to-do list for today and it was do at my leisure. Yesterday I thought of things that I needed to do, get cash, wash clothes, get my credential stamp, and tour the city best I could on foot. I finally got up at 7:30 and got dressed. I went to a nearby restaurant for a good breakfast. After a tortilla and orange juice and café con leche it was time to start walking and see the cathedral and all the stuff around the town.

This is truly an enjoyable town, there is so much to see and do. There are all kind of shops here and you can spend hours just walking and browsing through the streets. I walked along looking and even listening to the people’s conversations. I know I don’t understand a lot of what they are saying but I am getting an ear for hearing a lot of the words. I’m still doing my Spanish lessons every day and now it seems like I can hear and understand the computer generated word in the program.

It is so nice to have a day off from walking and to be able to do nothing. I do admit I’m getting a little restless to move on. Today seemed like a catch-up day for me with people that have fallen behind. First this morning the two fellows, one from England and the other from Scotland came in and we had breakfast together, I had a café con leche with them. After they left town I was going into the Cathedral to get my Credential stamped when Jolene from North Carolina called out to me from across the plaza. I think everybody heard that, but she had just gotten into the city and was looking for a place to eat, so I went and talked to her while she ate breakfast. She was heading on back out and was going to the town of La Virgen del Camino for the night. I will probably see her in about 3 days in Astorga, but who knows. After she left I went to walking around town. Later that morning I found a nice little La Tienda (small store that sometimes carries everything from nuts to soup) so I dropped in and I bought a couple of bananas and looked for some 75% dark chocolate, but they only had milk chocolate so I didn’t get any.

It was great to come back to my room and lay down and take a nap for a hour or so. It’s not that I can’t do that at home, it’s just that I don’t. Later I went looking to maybe find a place for dinner after a while, and I ran into Wolfgang from Germany and we talked for a while about how his hike was coming along. I found out that he had been in town for two days just resting. I guess that the Meseta really does take its toll on the body as well as the mind. So many days and kilometers and not much out there, it just wears you down.

By this time it was getting to be around 7:00 and I was heading off to the restaurant that I decided to go to earlier when Matt and his wife from New Zealand came along and wanted to know if they could join me for dinner, so we walked over to the restaurant. Never a day goes by that you don’t pick up another country. A lot of them speak really good English. It was funny I’ve always heard with the French, that if you don’t speak French they won’t talk to you. Now I don’t know if that is totally true or not as I’ve had some that have ignored me, but for the most part most of the French do try to speak to me, but possibly just don’t know any English. So they come on with the French which does me no good as I don’t understand anything they say. The German I was walking with yesterday brought this topic up. He swore that all the French knew English and just refused to speak it. It was a topic that was short lived and it was never resolved one way or the other. All I knew was that I was dealing with Spanish and that was enough for me.

The dinner lasted from about 6:30 or so until about 9:00. A meal in Spain is not a quick and simple thing, it’s like an event. You order your entire meal at the beginning and the the first course comes for everybody at the table and then, when and only when everybody has finished the first course and all the plates are removed, is the second course brought out. The same is true for the second course as well, and then postre (desert) is served. This goes on for the entire meal and by then the table has consumed two bottles of wine and a bottle of water. At about that time the sun had set and it was getting dark and time for everybody to get ready for bed so went our separate ways saying that we will see each other out on the trail, which I’d be completely surprised if we didn’t.

Finally my day off was coming to a close and it was time to start preparing to leave in the morning. This has been a wonderful day with lots of sights and conversations. That’s about all for now and I will share tomorrow's travels then, so as always…Buen Camino!

Day 24 - Reliegos to Leon

Date: May 28, 2015

Location: From: Reliegos To: Leon

Mileage: 24.3 km

Weather: Beautiful blue skies like before and warm temperatures

Temperature: Upper 50s° F at 5:45 a.m. and in the lower 70s° F

Lodging and Cost: Albergue San Francisco de Asis, 20€

GPS Location: ’42.593463” N and ’ -5.569566” W

Highlights: Albergue San Francisco de Asis

Summary of the Day:

Well today was an interesting day. I got up at 5:00 and slowly packed to leave, but it seemed to remain totally pitch black outside. Normally this isn’t too much of a problem as the streets have some lights and they put the yellow marker arrows where you can see them pretty well, there are some exceptions though. But this was not the case for the little town of Reliegos. For some reason the lights were out and while it was only one Main Street going out of town, near the edge of town there was an intersection that went in three different directions and not a marker to be found. I had my headlamp on and I walked out one street for a ways then came back and did the same thing to the next one, and wouldn’t you know it it was the last street and the marker was a good distance away from the intersection. It was really nice though as all the stars were shining brightly and it was cool.

After about 45 minutes to an hour, dawn started to break and you could see pretty well. Shortly after that I had covered the 6.2 Km to the town of Mansilla de las Mulas and found the local Albergue restaurant open so I stopped and had a good breakfast. After I came out I passed a man from Germany. It was interesting talking with him. He spoke perfect English and was trying to learn Spanish. Like me he thought that walking the Camino would help him. He had discovered the very same thing that I did, that it helps to hear and learn some of the words spoken, but that you’re probably not going to enter into full conversations with people. They just don’t have the time while they are working. We did practice a little back and forth with each other. I mentioned to him that I had hiked the Appalachian Trail and some of the Pacific Crest Trail, and he said that he had read books on both and heard about the movie on the PCT. He was really enjoyable to talk to and we walked along for about an hour before we parted. We exchanged e-mail addresses and I took his picture and will send him some of my pictures.

From that point on to Leon the trail changed. You could see the effects of the growth of Leon sprawling outward. I was always walking down a busy city street or just above one on an embankment looking down on the streets. Some people don’t like that but for me it was a pleasant change and I like watching people go about their daily chores and not constantly staring at wheat fields for hours on end. They are pretty but enough is enough.

Anyway I got to the outskirts of Leon in a suburb called Puente Castro. It’s like the industrial area of any large city. After about two miles of that I came to the official entrance to the city. The local police have a big tent set up and before you can cross the bridge into the city they call you over and welcome you to Leon and then, what the officer said is, I want to get your information. He introduced himself and I did in return, and he ask me where I was going to stay and when I told him he pulled out a big map of the city and drew the route on the map and gave it to me. He then picked up a big bucket of candy and offered me some and said take a hand full. He shook my hand and said Buen Camino and welcome to Leon. I was off and crossing the bridge. I believe that he didn’t want to get my information, but wanted to give me information and at any rate the map was a life saver.

I found where my room was and got checked in. I had forgotten how big this city is. It is huge and absolutely beautiful. There is so much to see that I’m not leaving tomorrow and plan to sleep in a little later and then go to the Cathedral and tour it as well as several other museums, not to mention wander through the shops. I am starting to notice that I’m far enough West that I’m beginning to see pescado (fish) on the menu now. Up until now I’ve only seen it two times and mostly lomo (pork), although pork is still big on the menu. It’s nice to know that I don’t have to get up early in the morning and that I can just wander around town and rest when I want.

I started thinking today about how far I’ve come and I realized that l have walked 466.2 kms, that’s roughly 290 miles. I am now over half way to Santiago de Compostela. So far it has been an interesting journey and I’m looking forward to more but for now it’s one day at a time. I’m living in the moment. Until tomorrow, I say…Buen Camino.

Day 23 - Sahagun to Reliegos

Date: May 27, 2015

Location: From: Sahagun To: Reliegos

Mileage: 31.2 km

Weather: Beautiful blue sky without a cloud and warmer temperatures

Temperature: Low 50s° F at 6 a.m, low 70s° F at 5 p.m.

Lodging and Cost: Albergue Room, 25€

GPS Location: ’42.474493” N and ’ -5.355357” W

Highlights: Looking at the stars as I walked out of Sahagun and then seeing the sun come up over the mountains.

Summary of the Day:

I woke up at 5:00 a.m. and started getting packed as I was going to have a long day and it was supposed to get hot so I wanted to get out by 6:00 and do most of my walking before the heat started to bare down. Today's walk was pretty much a path near a little used road with fields running alongside. I was again the only one walking for a little while, but then I saw four people in front of me. When I finally caught up to them, it turned out that they were German and no one spoke English except for me. We just greeted each other and I moved on. The walk was pretty much flat all day and I made good time.

I got to Bercianos del Real Camino and found one Bar/Café open so I ate breakfast there. After breakfast it was more of the same kind of trail, flat and not much to see or to do except walk. I like the Meseta, but I’ll be glad to get past Leon and be able to see more and have more stopping points. I did stop again when I got to El Burgos Ranero in a little bar for an orange juice. From that point on there was nothing until I got where I am staying the night at my room in the albergue.

I arrived here at noon. They have an Internet that comes and goes and it’s been that way all afternoon. I’m hoping that it will come back for a little while later tonight after dinner. Well dinner came and went and no internet, so I guess that it isn’t coming back. Another thing that didn’t make a good showing tonight was the dinner. It was a very disappointing meal. I had the ham and it looked like the kind that we get in the can that you have to scrape the jelly substance away and then slice it, and again the fried potatoes. The best thing was the salad, but not to worry I won’t starve to death before Leon and I’ll get my fill there.

Today was a long day and there hasn’t been too many new things to tell you about the trail. I’m really looking forward to getting to Leon tomorrow. I’ve already booked a room in the central part of the city near near the main Plaza and the Cathedral. I hope to be there by noon. I will fill you in on all the great sights in Leon, until then… Buen Camino.

Day 22 - Calzadilla de la Cuerza to Sahagun

Date: May 26, 2015

Location: From: Calzadilla de la Cueza To: Sahagun

Mileage: 21.7 km

Weather: Beautiful blue skies and no clouds and short sleeves by 9:00 a.m.

Temperature: 55° F at 6:30 a.m., 66° F 7:00 p.m.

Lodging and Cost: Hostal Alfonso VI, 25€

GPS Location: ’42.370771” N and ’ -5.028399” W

Highlights: Watching the sunrise on the Meseta, meeting up with folks that I hadn’t see in a few days and catching up on what's been going on in their hike.

Summary of the Day:

The alarm went off at 5:45 this morning after sleeping soundly all night. This was truly one of the best night's sleep that I’ve gotten yet. Even in a good night's sleep I usually start to stir around 5:00, but not this morning. This Hostel is really a great place to stay. Not because it’s the only one of two places to stay in this village and has the only restaurant, but because the owner is a three-time Camino Pilgrim, and knows what the “Pilgrims” want and need and he provides it and a lot more. It is neat and clean and the food is great with good-sized portions.

I was out on the trail by 6:30 as the light of day was starting to break. It was a nice cool morning with a little wind. The trail today walked a path, which unlike the past few days where I walked along a road and is hard on your feet. I met a “Kiwi” from New Zealand and we walked along together for a while. He was with his wife and another couple. We came up on the first of the little Bodega’s along the trail. He had never seen them before and asked what they were and I kiddingly told him they were “Hobbit” houses like in “Lord of the Rings.” He knew about them as the filming was in New Zealand. We met up with his wife and friends and stopped for a good breakfast together.

After about an hour I took off again. The trail goes through a little village by the name of Terradillos de Los Templarios and at least 50% of the buildings are of Adobe hut construction. You can see the dried mud with the straw sticking out. I am impressed with the way they use every resource at their disposal. About ten minutes after leaving town there was a field full of solar panels and in the distance, about fifteen or so wind mills turning. As you can see nothing goes to waste here. As you walk along it’s like a time machine, you go from the 12th Century to the 21st Century and back again.

The trail was pretty flat today and the walking was steady. It seemed like in no time I was coming into Sahagun. It was easy finding the Hostel that I’m staying in as I stayed here two years ago. When I was checking in I told the man that I stayed here before. It turns out that he is the owner and he thanked me several times for coming back.

After I got settled in and cleaned up I went into the Plaza de Mayor (the Main Plaza), which is where all the restaurants and shops are. I heard someone calling me, it was Mario, a Spanish fellow from Southern Spain who is hiking the Camino with his daughter-in-law’s father. I met him about three days ago and he speaks English pretty well, but with me he tries to speak more Spanish as he knows I trying to learn. He goes slowly and repeats a lot, but he also corrects me and tells me different ways to say things. I know I won’t remember it all but if I can get some of it, I’m better off then before. He invited me to join them for lunch, which I did. He ordered me an authentic meal from Spain. He said it was from the Madrid area. A lot of it including the soup was totally foreign to me and I didn’t have a clue as to what it was, but ate it anyway. It was really good, except for some black stuff, but I ate it too.

After my lunch with them I went up to a National Monument and Cultural Center called the Santuario de La Peregrina de Sahagun. They have a lot of old artifacts here and manuscripts, but one of the most important things about this place to the Pilgrims on the Camino is that it is the geographic center of the Camino de Santiago, the exact half-way point. You sign in as a Pilgrim and show your “Pilgrims Credentials” and when you’ve finished touring the building they give you a certificate signed by the Mayor of Sahagun certifying you have walked half of the Camino. The certificate is completely in Spanish and it has your name embossed into the paper. It really looks nice, but now I will get to carry it for a few more weeks. After that it was siesta time as I was done for the day. That’s about all the news from here until tomorrow as I continue to make my way toward Leon, another Cathedral town with a lot of new things. Until then I will say… Buen Camino!

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