I walked into an albergue at the end of today's walk out of Leon – I think I've walked about 27kms today – and a Canadian bloke who had already arrived took one look at me and said: Rough day at the office, hey?
It's funny him saying that, because that's exactly what I was going to write my blog about today – that if the Camino is a metaphor for your journey through life, then today I went to work. And it was tedious.
My pics today are purposefully dour – I just wanted to show that the Camino isn't all rolling hills or mesmeric Meseta – there are also sections that are industrial, commercial, beside noisy highways, and are generally very taxing on the nerves and for me, at any rate, my personal aesthetic.
But then again, I can find beauty and wonder in the grubbiest of environs.
What made today rough though was the rain – it rained non stop – and it was cold. I noticed at 9:30am that the temperature on an electronic read out was 3 degrees C. Later, it dropped down to 1.5C
I stuffed up, too. There are two routes out of Leon – a scenic route and a route that follows the highway. I missed the markers for the scenic route, so I copped the highway, with all the noise and trucks and billboards and industrial zones.
So once again, it's my own damn stupid fault.
But this notion of today being a work day fascinated me as I walked. I thought; That is life. There are days when you have to go to work and it’s tedious. It's a grind. It's unpleasant. But you have to put your head down and do it.
That's the camino, too.
That was today.
My rest day in Leon yesterday was great. It's such a beautiful city. Last night I bumped into some young 'uns who I've seen regularly over the past 3 weeks or so. They were all sitting in a bar near the cathedral, and I went in and we chatted.
It turns out that they'd caught a bus into Leon. They didn't want to do the long boring walk into the city. But a few of them were feeling a little sensitive about it. A little guilty. They'd been labelled “cheaters” by a couple of the others. (All in good spirits)
I spoke to one bloke who had fobbed it off, saying that it didn't affect his experience of the Camino. If anything it gave him more time in Leon. (To sit in a bar…)
I remember the day I walked into Burgos, and being open to the possibility of a bus. The last 10kms into Burgos was notoriously unpleasant, beside the highway. And that was when i was in serious pain. As I said at the time, if a bus pulled up beside me, and the doors swished open, and the driver leaned over and smiled genially and said to me: “Pilgrim. Burgos. One euro.” Do you think I wouldn't have got on that bus?
But Ivan the Terrible and his wife Giovanna appeared like Botticelli angels and spirited me through the parklands into the centre of Burgos, and so a bus never became an option.
And now, almost two thirds of the way through, I won't consider a bus or taxi or backpack transport service. I've come this far – I'm going to do the whole thing on foot, carrying my backpack, every inch of the way.
As for the young 'uns, I won't name them for fear of reprisal. But they read this blog and they know who they are.