I left town, waving goodbye to my glorious hotel as I passed it again and noticed some hitchhikers ahead at the gas station. They had a sign for Leon. I wanted to hitchhike at some point along The Way but I didn't know how that would transpire so I wished them well and walked on. I only got a few steps when a car pulled over, an elderly man, who said he couldn't take them that far but he could take them a few kilometers up The Way. They decided that didn't really help them so just as they were declining I spoke up and said that I would go a few kilometers if the offer still stood. They translated and the elderly man said yes, so in I went! Less that two minutes later, we were there. It went by that fast. I thanked him and not sure where to go now, headed on what I thought was the Camino.
I walked alwhile without seeing any signs, always a concern, when finally I saw a couple behind me so I waited to ask them. They were locals, a brother and a sister, and the brother spoke English and told me I was on the right path and he'd walk with me to show me where to turn off. It was nice talking to him. He said that all of the locals look at the peregrinos and ask why? Why do you do it? I told him mine and many of the other reasons and he asked if it was dangerous. I explained that it was not at all, in fact it was more that people would help you every chance they get. in fact, anyone who has that kind of fear should do the Camino, it reaffirms your faith in humanity. He seemed pleased. We took a picture by the stone, he wished me a "Buen Camino" and on I went, loving my new shoes.
After the luxury of Carrion, I was back to experiencing the simplicity again of humble villages who seemingly have not been touched yet by the modern world. The waymarking became very old, very faded, and very hard to see. I came upon Terradillos de los Templarios and knew this area was a Knights Templar stronghold but nothing remains of this noble Order except a few faded crosses and the name of the town. This town, I later learned, is the halfway point between St. Jean Pied de Port and Santiago de Compostela!! It was here that I left my hiking boots (abandoned item number 23).
I continued on, making it to Ledigos, where the only alberge in town was "complete." There was a storm brewing and just when I began to get that familiar angst of not knowing where I'll sleep tonight, a taxi pulled up near the alberge. I asked him how much to take me to the next town. He said 10 Euro. It seemed a little steep but I went ahead, glad to be ducking into the backseat just as the first rain drops started to fall. But no more had I sat back and put my seat belt on then we were already there. It was another little town, looking kind of sad, and he could tell I was uninspired. He said for 10 more he'd take me Sahagun. "That's where I belonged," he said, "a nice city." "OK" and on we went. I could see the Camino from the cab, it followed along the main road almost the entire way. "See," he said, "you're not missing anything." He knew of a nice pension in town that was only 15 Euro and so I said OK, grateful for his advice. He dropped me off and I checked in with a nice older guy who gave me a double room for the same price because it had a bathtub. Gracias senor!
Once I checked in, bathed, and redressed, I headed for the main square Calle Mayor in the hopes of finding a sunglass shop, for now, my beloved sunglasses had broken and were in need of replacement! But even worse, my pilgrim scallop shell had cracked. Along The Way I had put my backpack on the trail and when I rolled it over to sit on it, CRACK went the shell (note to self: next time put the original, authentic shell on the side of your pack, wait, I'm not doing this a next time am I?). Was I destined to replace everything? Apparently so. First snap, then crackle, please don't let there be a pop. Fortunately I found both an eyewear shop (that was open!) and a pilgrim store (where the guy was actually friendly!). I bought a beautiful pewter scallop shell and affixed it to my pack, along with a pair of solarized sunglasses (I knew to ask for that much in outdoor eyeglass wear). The village came to life in the square, with kids playing soccer, men drinking coffee, old women sitting on park benches watching over everything, and it felt nice. I found a great cafe with a large wine list that served me a pilgrim menu. The waiter here was friendly too. I lingered a long time and then headed back where I ran into Guy from Australia. We had a quick nightcap around the corner and I said good night before disappearing into my lovely little room. I had walked 23 kms today and taxi'd another 16 kms for a total of 39 kilometers, I was done.
"Something opens our wings. Something makes boredom and hurt disappear. Someone fills our cup in front of us. We taste only sacredness."