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City: Rancho Palos Verdes
Begins: Apr 25, 2015
Date: Tue, May 5th, 2015
Entry Visits: 604
Journal Visits: 8,187
Guestbook Views: 349
Guestbook Entrys: 15
Day 11 and It's Over
Notwithstanding this entry's heading, let me go through the events chronologically.
Looking at the guidebook this morning, I figured out that I had left the province of Burgos when I crossed the bridge just before Itero de la Vega and I'm now in the province of Palencia, the second of the three provinces of the Castilla y Leon region. I was up quite early because I needed to call home again. Unfortunately, the Wi-Fi didn't stretch to my room and the albergue was still locked up so I went outside to the patio area where I could at least get a signal. I thought it was going to be a sunny day but at that time of the morning it was dark and freezing cold with a biting wind. I quickly put on more clothes, cut the phone call short and started walking in the dark as fast as possible to warm up. Fortunately the clouds parted to let the light from a full moon come through so I was able to follow the signs out of the village without any trouble.
I did come cross over a modern concrete-lined canal, called the Canal Pisuerga, that was key to agricultural irrigation. I got to the next village of Boadilla del Camino and stopped for hot coffee and breakfast as I was still fighting the cold. It was another albergue with a restaurant and run by a very talented painter whose works adorned every room. There was also yet another dominant church in the center of the village. On the way out, I thought I'd come across my first blowdown with a tree blocking the trail. This one could have come down overnight with the strong winds; it clearly had fallen very recently as the leaves hadn't dried out. But the trail cut a sharp left at that point so us pilgrims didn't have to negotiate the hazard. After a short section through farmland, the trail then became the tow path for an 18th century canal called the Canal de Castilla. This canal was originally multi-purpose providing transportation of crops, power to drive corn mills and irrigation. Although the canal was no longer functional, it was a beautiful walk and the bird wildlife was exceptional. I especially liked the large white bird with black wing tips that soared overhead searching I think for a small fish to dive onto. I subsequently looked it up and I think it was a pallid harrier that is quite rare. At the end of the canal was the remains of a lock that had about four sections to raise or lower the barges about a hundred feet to the next section of canal.
The next village was Fromista and from there to Carrion de los Condes, a complete 19 km segment in the guidebook, the official trail was a gravel path adjacent to a rather busy road. After a few kilometers the guidebook indicated a detour that got away from the road and although it was nearly a kilometer longer it saved ten kilometers of walking beside the road. As I was branching off, another hiker who I had just passed shouted out to me that I was going the wrong way but I told him that I was taking a legitimate detour as a way to avoid the road walk. This hiker was Jorge from Argentina and he figures prominently in the events that follow later even though we hadn’t really met at this point and he decided to take the official route after I told him the detour was a little longer.
The detour was very tranquil and after a while it ran next to a river, the rio Ucieze. I met someone from Germany and we chatted for about an hour as we walked this quiet riverside trail that most of the other hikers skipped. The last section of the detour was a quiet road except that just as I was approaching an old church, this large herd of sheep along with a shepherd and a sheepdog came around the back of the church and onto the road in my direction. I took pictures as they all approached me and then just stood still as the sheep went past me. One of them was curious enough to stop to smell me - I was a little rancid by now since it's a couple of days since I did laundry - but he darted off as soon as I moved a little. They were well behaved sheep in that they didn't want to be away from the flock so the sheepdog was almost along for the ride. Maybe that explains the behavior of the flock of sheep I saw a few days back.
I stopped for lunch at a small restaurant and then rejoined the official trail beside the road. I sure was glad I took the slightly longer detour. Then I reached the town of Carrion de los Condes and had a dilemma. It was early afternoon and a bit early to stop but the next albergue was another 17 km and that would have made it a 50 km day which I really didn't want to do. As I walked into town I decided to find the convent that was identified in the book as having room for 92 people in 77 rooms which implied there were lots of individual rooms. But it wasn't really easy to find. I got some directions in Spanish from a local but all I could see was a school and a church. After doing a circuit of the church I met Jorge again and he was also heading for the convent. Since he spoke Spanish he understood the directions better and we found it together. As it out turned out the school was part of the convent and the entrance was right beside the school playground. We both checked in and this place was like a hotel - I had a single room with a dedicated bathroom. To my surprise the nun also handed out the Wi-Fi password and it was an excellent signal in my room. The price included both dinner and breakfast so it was really very good value. I went into town and bought a couple of things I needed and then had a beer in a nice plaza chatting with two Canadian and two Irish hikers.
Back in my room, I started to work on the journal and I got a message from home. You might be wondering why I was suddenly so active with calls back home, well without going into detail, there was a problem at home. After I called, the problem had become a bigger issue that made it impossible for me to carry on and I immediately made new plans to get back as quick as I could. This is where Jorge was so helpful especially with his knowledge of Spanish in helping me book a flight from Burgos to Barcelona and arranging a taxi to get me to the Burgos airport early on Wednesday morning. In many ways, I believe Jorge exemplified the spirit of all the folks hiking the Camino. Anything he could do to help, he would do without hesitation.
So the next day, the nuns got up early to let me out and a taxi took me to Burgos. The flight was a bust but the small airline took the passengers to the train station and we got a train to Barcelona. That was actually better in some ways because I got to see more of the country. It was a very impressive train – very smooth and fast as it went over 250 km/hour, that’s over 150 mph, the fastest I think I have travelled while still touching the ground. The next day I flew home to LA which is where I have finished this entry.
It was a shame to have to end it so abruptly as I was having a lot of fun and making great progress. I did about half of the Camino Frances and on the way met a lot of interesting and engaging people. But, these things happen and there was nothing I could do about it. But I’ll be back.
Camino De Santiago
The Camino de Santiago is the name of any of the pilgrimage routes to the shrine of the apostle St. James the Great in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia in northwestern Spain, where tradition has it that the remains of the saint are buried. Many take up this route as a form of spiritual path or retreat, for their spiritual growth.
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