The Beginning of the End

Tuesday, November 3 – Day 53

Last night at 11:30 the fire alarm went off. I put on my clothes, shoes, and grabbed my money and passport and went out into the hall. Estelle came out at the same time and we walked down the stairs together, then Sandra joined us. Most people had their doors open and were looking out, but didn’t bother to actually leave. When we got down to the lobby there was a small group of people, and a staff member ran past us saying there was no problem.

The alarm turned off, then came back on less than a minute later. So we just stood there for a while. I decided we should take a fire alarm selfie, and someone else decided to join in. After it happened, he and his daughter were both highly embarrassed and told us we should take another one, but I said it was perfect just the way it was.

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Unfortunately this was an indication of how my night would go. No more fire alarms, but I didn’t not sleep well. Maybe it’s because I rested so well during the day, but I had a terrible time sleeping.

I don’t know what time I woke up, because I was trying very hard to ignore that I was awake. I did not go back to sleep, so I got up at 7 and got packed and ready for breakfast.

Breakfast was the same as yesterday, but I was not hungry. I forced myself to eat, but it was difficult, when everything yesterday was so delicious. I did not eat nearly as much as I did the day before, but when I left i felt so full I was a little worried if it was going to stay down or not.

I remembered to ask for a second stamp at the desk. Most days when I have a rest day, I get a stamp one day from the place I’m staying, then try to get another stamp for the next day in town. I didn’t leave the hotel, so I got two stamps.

Earlier when I was trying to go back to sleep, my mind finally figured something out. It’s funny how that happens.

When I had come in to Leon, I walked by the tourism office so I went in to get a stamp. I asked for “a sello?” and the guy said there was “no sello,” which I found extremely surprising, then he explained that because it was the weekend most things were closed and he said something about banyo, which I found odd. Then he asked if I was a pilgrim, and I’m thinking, “of course I’m a pilgrim, why else would I ask for a stamp?” It wasn’t until this morning that I realized because I said, “a sello,” instead of “un sello,” or whatever I’m supposed to say, he thought I said, “aseos,” which is bathroom.

I’m sure the tourism office in Leon does have a pilgrim stamp.

It was raining steadily, but I headed out anyway. It was a fairly long walk through the streets, but for some reason I still didn’t think it was as bad as Burgos. It was a lot of sidewalk walking, which is not good for the feet when you’re planning a 30k day.

I passed a pharmacy and decided to get some more ibuprofen. I don’t know if it’s because it was a bigger town, but she gave me 40 600mg tabs for 2 E. The last time it was 20 400 mg tabs for 4.30 E. I got three times as much for half the price. I think these should last me through the trip. That’s like 2 per day.

My MMDD had shown there was alternate route instead of just following next to the N-120 for the whole day for 30k.

I thought I might be getting close to the spot where it split, so I pulled out my phone and book to check, and then I noticed the road was covered in yellow arrows. I wanted to stay in Villarente, so I went left.

I stopped raining shortly after this, and it ended up being a fairly nice day. The sun was never really out until right at the end, but it was quiet and peaceful, and I spent the day thinking.

I had heard people say that the Camino is split into 3 stages. There’s the physical stage, at the beginning over the pyrenees, then the mental stage, which is the meseta in the middle, and then the spiritual stage. I think that’s probably true to some extent. It’s definitely a journey, but everyone’s journey is different. I think it all kind of runs together, at least, it does for me. I really have no idea what my experience would have been like if I’d started fresh in St. Jean. But as I spent yesterday doing calculations and figuring out the days I have left, I realized that it really is coming to an end. In less than two weeks I will arrive in Santiago, and 3 weeks from today I will be on a plane back home. That’s still a long time in Camino Life, but I have a feeling it will go fairly quickly. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or not. Part of me is ready to be done, but part of me wants it to continue for longer.

And as I was walking along, the clouds on the horizon cleared a bit, and I suddenly realized I was walking toward mountains. It was like deja vu from seeing the Pyrenees for the first time. Part of me was excited, and the other part thought, “I’ve already done this, I don’t want to do it again.” But it also made me realize that the meseta is almost over, and the next stage is about to begin. It really is the beginning of the end.

I don’t know why I was so startled to see the mountains. I knew there would be mountains after the meseta, and the elevation started going up, but for some reason I wasn’t really expecting mountain mountains. I don’t know what I was thinking. It was also a surprise because these mountains are considerably closer than the Pyrenees were when I saw them for the first time. I will be there in only a couple of days.

I really enjoyed staying in bed and not moving yesterday, and today it was hard to get moving again. I’d been hoping that a rest would energize me for the next two weeks, and I’m sure it did help, but it just emphasized how tired I am. In some ways the 53 days of walking have made me stronger, but in some ways not. I think I definitely have the stamina, but my body just hurts so much that sometimes it’s hard to keep going.

I got into Villarente shortly before 3, but the albergue I wanted to go to was closed. Not a big deal, there’s another place to stay in town, and it says it’s open all year (so did the albergue). I found the casa rural on the way out of town, and I started walking down the long drive to get there, but for some reason I decided I didn’t feel good about staying there, so I turned around. 5k to the next town.

Yesterday someone had asked me what the farthest I had walked in one day was, and I certainly didn’t think that day was still ahead of me. It’s really too bad I don’t have my fitbit, because it would have been nice to know, but I’m pretty sure I walked between 36-37k today.

I felt much better about the next town, and after walking so far I definitely deserved my own room. I found an adorable little casa rural, but I’m not sure how much it’s costing me. She showed me the room and then said she would take my passport later, as she was busy cleaning, or something. My MMDD says it’s 20-30 for one person, so I’m pretty sure I’m not paying more than that. I also know I will get dinner. Now I need to recalculate where I’ll be going tomorrow. I hope I didn’t over do it.

The breakfast did very well of holding up, and I did not get hungry until 4, right before I walked into Hospital de Orbigo, which is where I’m staying tonight.

I went to the little grocery store to get some stuff, but I just ended up buying cookies and a chocolate bar. With everyone posting about Halloween, I really wanted a chocolate bar, and I never did get one in Leon. I was starving, so I ate almost half of the bar on my way back to the casa rural. These are the big 150g chocolate bars.

It’s 30 for the room, 10 for dinner and 5 for breakfast.

I got pasta, pork and cheesecake. The pasta was absolutely delicious, and I was seriously getting full by the end of it. That is the first time that’s happened. I blame the half chocolate bar that I ate. That was really bad timing. The pork and fries were the best I’ve had in Spain, and I had a really hard time finishing it. That darn chocolate bar! Dessert was a “cheesecake”, but it was quite different from our cheesecake. The texture was a little different, but it also wasn’t very sweet. It wasn’t bad, it was just different.

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4 Comments

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  1. Boo for inopportune fire alarms. It’s making me think of that time when we were in London and the fire brigade came to the hotel.

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  2. Your cheesecake selection made me think of when Ryan and I were in Lithuania and he REALLY wanted a piece of cheesecake. He’d already had some “cheesecake bites” that I’d had on my mission. (That’s not really what they were–just what I called them, as it was the closest I’d come to cheesecake in that part of the world.) ANYWAY–he finally bought a slice of cheesecake from a cheese shop that was just around the corner from our apartment. And he was HUGELY disappointed. It wasn’t very sweet and had parmesan shreds throughout. It wasn’t savory enough to be a good savory cheesecake and wasn’t sweet enough to be a good sweet cheesecake. I’m glad your cheesecake experience was better than that!

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  3. I like your fire alarm selfie!

    Interesting that you didn’t feel good about going to that one place. Has that happened before? Wow, what a long day!

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  4. I like the man that added himself to your picture. 🙂 I can’t believe it’s the beginning of the end. You are doing great!

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