June 8, 2012
The backpack rustlers woke me up at ten to five. I know this because I have started to keep my phone next to my bed as it provides the time, an alarm if I need it, and a light to get to the bathroom that doesn’t blind everyone. I think about lying in bed for a few more minutes, but nature calls. Who do I see in the bathroom but Susie! Somehow, she did not sleep well, said to heck with it, and decided to leave early to maybe see some birds along the stream that our path follows today. She leaves at 5:15am.
I wake Mary up and we are out a little after 6am, foregoing breakfast at the albergue for a few kilometers walk first. Uli prefers to walk alone today, so she heads off ahead of us. Breakfast at the first bar was less than great, my tortilla was from yesterday and super salty, and Mary had what looked like an apricot-filled pastry but actually was some kind of meat/veg s*** on a soft shingle. Normally I like everything, but yuk.
As we leave town, the rain starts. We are in the middle of a field, so we stop to cover our packs and put on our raincoats. It’s not raining hard enough for the pants, but it’s enough to get everything wet if it wasn’t covered. We’ve been blessed with great weather, and the rain is welcome for it’s coolness as well as for the opportunity to use what we brought. When the rain stops, it’s windy, and the rain jacket is a better windbreaker than the fleece.
We meet up with Susie and Uli around 10am in front of another Knights Templar church. After a good coffee and a great chocolate pastry, we tour the inside of the cathedral. The medieval tombs, the clear rose window, the confessional with the triangle/eye DaVinci Code symbol vies with the story of St. James (Santiago) from the time he met Jesus to his escaping from some demony bad guys on his travels to Spain, to his gory beheading, and his appearances afterwards.
Uli forges ahead and we walk the last 6km into Carrion de los Condes, our stop for the night. Since tomorrow’s segment is 17.8km supposedly without towns, water, shade, or comfort of any sort, many pilgrims stop here so they can cross this “wilderness” early in the day. We find the Santa Clara Convent and they have a room with 3 beds and a bathroom right next door. After a shower and laundry (finally it stopped raining), we ventured out to lunch and wi-fi. We were too late for the town market, but we did find scores of tacky Camino souvenirs (Camino shot glass, anyone?) and another bar where I could post a bunch of blogs.
Before going back, we stopped at the supermarket for breakfast and lunch provisions for the wilderness and found a restaurant for dinner, the last dinner I think we’ll have together for a while, since Mary and Susie are taking the bus to Leon tomorrow, saving themselves a 3- or 4-day walk through the flat meseta. It’s funny to walk into a restaurant that you’ve never been to before in a town you’ve never been to before and know so many people. Susie left for pilgrim mass as Mary and I greeted our pilgrim friends.
Following Susie, we wandered into the cathedral just at the end of the pilgrim mass. We hesitated, but the friendly nuns motioned us to come in. After a brief welcome and instruction from the head nun, we all filed up to the priest one by one to have him place his hands on our head, make a cross on our forehead, and receive a crayon-colored six-sided star. All the while, the nuns who motioned us in were singing, one with guitar, one with autoharp, and one with harmony. The sound in the church was amazing. I really did feel blessed to be there.
No snorers tonight (except Susie!!) It will be an early morning for me, but not for Susie and Mary, as their bus does not leave until 12:45pm. I promise to be quiet in the morning…