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Camino de Santiago, Day 31: Leon to Villadangos del Páramo

Camino de Santiago

Camino de Santiago

Leaving Leon

It was like hell leaving the hotel.  I’m ashamed to admit I saw almost nothing of Leon, except a pillow and a shower.  I decided while walking out of town that there would be no more rest days – it just makes it too hard to gain momentum again.  Better to walk five kilometers and be moving ahead then to stay in a city and let the muscles contract and the bones soften.  Jamie and I said our goodbyes on the way out of town.  We planned to meet in some future town in a few days.

The Walk

I didn’t leave until noon and by then the sun was high.  I felt like an egg in a griddle.  My skeleton creaks like a haunted house.  That can’t be good.

The walk could have been anywhere.  Miles and miles of warehouses and office parks and a flat road, mostly beside a highway with lots of noisy trucks and clouds of dust as their wheels turned on the hot pavement.  Nothing particularly inspiring to observe.  After 12.5 miles, I’d had enough.

I arrived in Villadangos del Páramo around 4 pm and checked into the Municipal Albergue.  The cost for a bed is $5 euros, which is typical.  I noticed Jamie’s name on the check-in list.  Funny.  I dropped my stuff and headed two blocks to the only open bar/restaurant to have some wine and joined Jamie who beat me to the punch.

In retrospect, I think it’s a good thing I met Jamie because of what happened later…

The Warden

We returned to the Albergue around 8 pm and lots of pilgrims were outside chatting.  Time went quickly and at 9:50 pm, people started going inside.  There is a general rule at most albergues that it’s “lights out” at 10 pm, which is certainly reasonable.  But never, ever, ever have we encountered the enforcement of rules so strictly.  Sidenote: A weird thing about the places that we’ve stayed, including hotels, is that they lock you IN at night with a key at the front door (which has seemed to me to be an enormous risk in case of fire, but that’s how they do things).  You can not leave until they open the door in the morning.  Anyway, an older man, the “hospitalero”, with a mean face and hunched shoulders yelled at people to get inside at 10 pm.  He had no tolerance for 10:01 for the people that were smoking or 10 pm and 5 seconds for that matter.  He then proceeded to demand that everyone get to their beds.

People were gathered in the dining room, still talking.  For many people it’s quite difficult to go to sleep at 10 pm so it’s not uncommon to gather in a room, provided everyone is being quiet.  The man comes.  Turns off the lights.  Demands we go to our beds.  Now, I feel like I’m in prison.  Now, he’s making enemies left and right.  People are plotting how to escape to talk, to smoke, to relax!  The man walks the corridors, keys jangling.  Jamie and I agree to meet in 15 minutes in the common room.

The man walks my corridor no less than five times.  Others are pretending to be asleep.  Keys jangle.  Footsteps stop at your bed.  Breath held. Footsteps continue.  Breathe.  The warden knocks on the door of the bathroom.  Jamie is inside.  The warden tells him to go to bed.  God forbid, one has to use the bathroom.

Escape from Villadangos del Páramo

We wait for the demon to go to sleep.  Thirty minutes later I hear no footsteps.  I make a break for the dining room where I meet Jamie in the dark.  We whisper.  The warden appears out of nowhere.  Lights on.  His expression suggests that he might kill us.  He yells at us.  Go to your bed!!!!!   We were so mad we were defying him out of spite.

Jamie is not the fighting type.  I’ve never once had to intervene or try to calm him down.  But this man was being so unreasonable and just plain mean (there are too many details to write about) that Jamie started yelling at him and I literally had to hold Jamie’s face to get him to focus on our trip and not on hurting this man.   There was swearing.  And pointing.  And had I not been there, things could have gotten ugly.  Now mind you,  I threw in a few choice words and pointed myself.  Jamie and I decided to leave.  It was 11 pm.  We were pissed.  We decided to walk all night.

In order to gain strength for the journey, we stopped at the local bar and drank wine and beer.  We debriefed.  I was oddly excited about our impromptu adventure.  We had manchego, a baguette, water, headlamps and parts of a tent so I figured we’d live through the night.

We walked until 3 am.  Then Jamie got tired.  He decided to put up the “tent” in a field.  Really he just has the footprint of a tent and the rainfly so it’s all access for bugs and cold.  How we chose the only field in Spain that had house music blaring till 5 am, I’ll never know.

Today we walked 20.1 kilometers (12.5 miles) during the day and God knows how far we walked at night.

Photos of the Day:

One Comment

  1. “parts of a tent” yes! great story….

    I love how you guys go off on your own and catch up later to debrief that way ensuring you have your own experience. Good stuff!

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