Thursday, September 15, 2011

Camino De Santiago - Frómista To Carrión De Los Condes

Today I reached the halfway point to Santiago de Compostela.  Since the Camino has so many different starting points there really isn't any true half way point, and none is marked along the Camino, but my personal one was between Frómista and Carrión de los Condes.

I took an alternate route on this leg.  It wasn't totally intentional and technically I was still on the Camino so I wasn't lost.  After passing through the village of Villovieco I reached an intersection where I could turn left toward the town of Villarmentero de Campos or go straight along a canal.  There were pilgrims along both paths.  I chose to go straight.  I think I should have gone through the village.  There were Camino markers/signs along this way but it felt wrong.  Eventually I caught up with the pilgrim I'd been following and he sounded mad at himself.  This alternate path wasn't so bad and it rejoined the main Camino in the town of Villalcázar de Sirga.  It may have added a a little over three quarter miles (1.3 km) to the length.  Nothing terrible.

After leaving Villalcázar de Sirga the Camino went up some more along a fairly busy road.  The wind was whipping and at times I was afraid that my hat would blow off into traffic.  This would not do as that hat makes my shadow look like Indiana Jones so I took it off and held it in my hand until I finally reached Carrión de los Condes.

I reached the Saint Mary albergue, a parochial one run by three Dominican nuns.  I was first in line.  As I waited for the albergue to open AL and JT showed up.  They introduced me to another Canadian couple GO and ED.

The door open and I went in.  The nun assigned me bed number six which turned out to be an upper bunk.  My blister didn't like that fact but I could manage to climb up if I kept my flip-flops on.

I spent the afternoon finding someplace to get food.  Just about everywhere was closed but I did find a bar that served tortilla española.  I ended up eating a lot of tortilla in Spain ... right up there with ham sandwiches.

I spent a lot of time in my bunk.  The little bit of good mood I had after leaving the health center in Frómista was nowhere to be seen.  I was in a terrible place in my head.  My mood sunk as time passed.  I crawled out of my bunk and hobbled down the stairs and went looking for a grocery store.  I bought some ham and bread, some fruit, and supplies for the next day.  I made a sandwich at the albergue and that was my little meal for the day.

The Saint Mary albergue was famous for its singing nuns.  At six the pilgrims gathered in the small entryway of the albergue and we listened as the nuns played guitar and led sing-a-longs.  The sisters asked for volunteers to sing.  AL volunteered to sing and play the guitar.  This is going to sound petty, and I think this was a result of the bad mood I was in, but I thought he was terrible.  He took good songs and mangled them including a few where he changed the words to be more Camino specific.  Sadly his new lyrics really didn't go with the melody very well.  I was happy when he handed the guitar back to the nuns.

All this was sweet and all, but I was sinking more and more into depression as they sang.  I felt alone.  I wanted to share this with someone I cared about.  The Wife would have loved this.  The gang would have loved this.  The Nuns said that pilgrims needed two thing to get to Santiago de Compostela.  They needed something to guide them in the right direction and they needed strength to complete the long walk.  The sisters handed out paper stars and said that these stars represents the light that guides us along the Camino.  Then one of the Sisters, as music was played, went to each pilgrim, placed her hands on our heads and said a prayer to give us the strength we needed to carry on.  You hear stories of people sitting on the side of the Camino along the Meseta crying.  All this quiet contemplation can bring up hidden issues.  As I was receiving my blessing I came very close to crying - more out of emotional despair - than anytime on the Camino.  I reached an emotional low that night - a near break down.  I went to bed early.

As I tried to sleep AL and JT were talking to GO and ED.  AL was telling them how JT had a device that allowed her to pee standing up.  OK ...  WTF!!!  This is what irritated me abut AL.  He was a know-it-all that shared way too much information and played bad guitar, but damn it, he was a nice guy too.  Irritated the heck out of me.

Day nineteen ended with me being depressed and irritated.  Yay.


Total Distance: 12.75 Miles (20.52 km)
Total Time: 3 hours 48 minutes
Total Elevation Up: 1,927 ft (587.35 m)
Total Elevation Down: 1,729 ft (526.00 m)

[Click on map for a larger version]

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