Friday, 20 October 2017

Traveling with Americans

October 18, 2017
Traveling with Americans
I suppose that it is time to introduce my traveling companions: John and Mark, both from Dallas, of Latino extraction  and they are in laws.   In other words, John's son is married to Mark's daughter and they have 3 mutual grandchildren together. 
At various times during this expedition I have come to wonder if it is my role here to broaden their horizons somewhat. Now I am not entirely sure that this is because they are men, Americans, city boys or a combination of all three. 
For example, one conversation ran thusly:  An albergue in which I was staying was getting their vegetables delivered from someone who actually grew them, and in reference to a veggie of heroic proportions the man was carrying in:
What is that?
Me looking up - a squash.
It can't be.  I've never seen a squash that big.
Me - you have never shopped outside of a supermarket, have you?
Well, no.
This precipitated a trip to the local market on market day where I introduced them to mammoth sized squash and zucchini; and tomatoes that were so dark that they were almost black.
It was a revelation to them both.  I have not yet gotten either of them to try Gazpacho soup.  The reason?  It's cold and soup is not supposed to be cold. Not even a spoonful would they try.
There are various other things such as the differences between Mexican tortillas and Spanish ones.  However it is the concept of siesta that I truly feel that they can't get their heads around.  Why would anyone knock off in the middle of the day for 2 or 3 hours when there is so much business to be done? Even after baking their respective brains out on the Meseta, the wisdom of taking a break during the hottest part of the day eluded them.  And all because the was money to be made hawking things to pilgrims.
It is also appropriate here to comment on one of the foibles I have found here in Spain:  as a country, Spain seems to have fallen in love with motion sensors.   Now I can understand this to a great part:  Spain is leading the way in renewable energy; wind turbines and solar panels abound therefore it does make sense that one should not waste energy when it is not necessary.  As I have followed my beloved partner in life from room to room turning off lights in empty bathrooms, overheads where they are not needed and so on , I  can see the wisdom.
Now that said there are times when the automatic turn off is just too quick.  For example,  there are times when in the smallest room in the house that the light turns off just too fast.  As I  am familiar enough with my own anatomy that over all it is not an issue.  Except for the times when the toilet paper is just out of reach.  I shall leave the rest to your imagination.
Will update you about tomorrow when I figure out where I will be.
Love you my Bear
Oct. 17 - Black Cat Alley - On the way to the local market Leslie takes time to check out the local feline population, which is all black, in this case. If one black cat crossing your path is 'bad luck'; What happens when 4 black cats cross your path?
Oct. 17 - An enterprising soul catering to the Pilgrim traffic - It is interesting to note that some of these 'pit stops' are run by immigrants who cater to ethnic pilgrims who travel the Way.
Oct. 17 - In Homage to the grape. - Here is an interesting statue erected in honour of the noble grape. Wow, look at the size of that vine stock!
Day 32 Villafranka del Bierzo - This was an 18 km hike with the hillier terrain during the last third.


Thursday, 19 October 2017

Thoughts of home

October 17, 2017
Thoughts of home
I think I would kill for a tuna melt right now.  This is odd because this is a country that seems to live on canned tuna and I have never seen a tuna melt.
Or cream of mushroom soup with crackers.
Re: Rabanal and On the road
Will do. Apparently all of Spain is on fire right now.  And this is the driest it has been in recent memory. (25 years). This from the only occupant of Monjardin, who claims to be the last of The Knights Templar.   He and his dogs run a refugio on the way down from the Cross de la Ferro.  Suffice to say it is horribly dry.  The place where I stayed last night could not offer laundry washing because the water supply was so tight.
Today it is raining and instead of 10 km downhill in the rain we took a taxi and our knees thanked us.
Oh, and the main crop on the Meseta seems to be feed corn. The irrigate the heck out of it
Leslie, your roving correspondent, now off to view a Templar castle in Ponferrari.
Oct. 12 - John Reading with Gaudi - One of the amigos sharing a good read with a local.
Oct. 14 - Time for the pilgrims to rest and hydrate - One of the stops along the way, lots of teas, coffees, and notes left for the pilgrims to peruse during their rest stop.
Oct. 15 - A small flower that caught Leslie's eye. - Leslie takes some time to 'smell the roses' and in this case finds a familiar looking little plant.
Day 31 Columbrianos - with the end looming, our intrepid travelers march along smartly.

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

On the road

October 16, 2017
On the road
I am in a tiny place that looks, like many of the tiny villages do around here, like a set out of a spaghetti western.  If Terrence Hill turned up I might bludgeon him with my aluminum water bottle and steal his horse.  For those of you who do not understand this reference,  please look up "Trinity" on YouTube.
The air quality is not good today:  there is a large fire burning somewhere and the smoke has closed in like thick fog.  Some are concerned about the air quality.  I guess the fire is about 30 km away.
I have about about 2 km and 100m climb before I reach Cruz de la Fer.
Just an update from the trail.
Love you Snuggy
Oct. 16 - Sign, Sign, Everywhere a sign - another intersection with signs to everywhere in the world.
Oct. 16 - Cruz de la Fer - If you zoom in, you can see the Canadian flag near the bottom. In the foreground, there is another pair of hiking boots! Who needs to carry worn out boots or boots that hurt your feet?
Oct. 15 - Mini Cruz de la Fer - Here is a mini-cross available for those not inclined to take the 200 meter climb to the main feature. Oh, ya, more boots, these with flowers in!
Day 30 El Acebo de San Miguel - One whole month on the road. We're on the 'downhill side' of this journey, in more ways than one.

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

October 15, 2017
Today in Rabanal, tomorrow the iron cross where I will leave my "offering" and on to El Acebo for the night.  That is about 17 km but does not include a 300m climb to the cross.  But it's down hill after that.
It is really hard to believe that I am over halfway though there are times when all I want to do is get home to you and the kitties.  But I struggle on.
I made pasta carbonara for John's party.  I am told that I made a mistake as I will be asked to do it again.
In answer to a question,  when I got rid of my sleeping bag,  I still had my sleeping bag liner.  It has served me well.
Oh if you  need to pay off Jack's bill, use my Pc debit card.  There is more than enough to cover it.
Now I am getting sleepy again.  This when I get to close my eyes and dream of home.
Love you my Snuggy
Oct. 15 - Working out the kinks - Leslie is still working out the 'camera kinks' here. Look in the background and you will see mor refurbishment on the tower. Lots of effort going into refurbishment and maintenance.
Oct. 14 - Supper time in Rabanal - This photo shows the 'crew', the Amigos on the right and other Pilgrims sharing a comunal meal after a long day.
Oct. 15 - Now here's another tribute to Pilgrims. - A cute sculpture indication that Pilgrims are welcome here.
Day 29 - Rabanal del Caamino - a 20 km hike, up hill. Leslie walked and sent her main pack ahead by a service that is provided for the Pilgrims.
Progress Week 4 - Leslie has traveled 500 kms so far, what a feat.


Monday, 16 October 2017

Into Astorga

October 14, 2017
Into Astorga
Thanks for the update. My Bear.   Jack is back?  What did they do to him?  How much did it cost?  How is the work on the pellet stove coming?  Are you managing to stay warm and cozy at night?  Do you have the winter quilt on?
I was in Hospital de Orbrigo last night :  we took the bus about 20 km out of Leon to the end of the 'burbs and just to do penene for that we walked 12 more km.
I think we can safely say that the 3 Amigos are out of the Meseta now as the lano scape is changing and there are more trees.  There are some pictures from today including a slice from the 60s in a little way station maintained on the Camino.  Also another cute Fuente just outside San Justo de la Vega: when the water it running to fill a bottle, the water runs on the statue too.
Today was John's birthday so we had cake and I cooked dinner.  There was some enlightened self interest here.
Tomorrow off to Rabanal
Love you my Snuggy
Oct. 14 - Still on the Mesets, for now - Pretty flat, but look at the trees off in the distance.
Oct. 14 - Another Statue for the Pilgrim - When the water rund when filling your water bottle, the water flows from the gourd to the pilgrim's mouth, pretty neat eh whot?
Oct 14 - Photo op, a slice of the 60s - Stopping to 'smell the roses' along the way.
Day 28 Astorga - The crew did follow the highway and did end up in Astroga, taking the bus and walking.
Week 4 - Leslie's progress on Week 4 took her 190km through Leon to Astorga

Sunday, 15 October 2017

Lounging in Leon

October 12, 2017
Lounging in Leon
It was not quite the day we had expected in Leon, but since the whole town seems to be set up for a long weekend maybe there was more to be seen over that time.  That said the Three Amigos hit the road out of town on the morrow wit a bus ride to the edge of the 'burbs to avoid 20 km over cement and asphalt.
We took a tour of the Cathedral and around the center of town.  There is a picture of me giving therapy to a statue, one of John on a park bench with Gaudi and the foot print of a Roman soldier.  These prints are to be found as markers bordering the Roman encampment the was the beginning of the city of Leon.
We had a forgettable supper in a local brewpub.   Their beer was cloudy-not a good sign.-  The service was slow; and the food was not up to par.  Maybe we were just.too homesick, none of us
could face the thought of another pilgrim meal so we felt a burger was in order.  Usually Spanish
hambergesas are very good, but this one wasn't.
Anyway tomorrow is another day.  Missing my Snuggy and hope you got the stove issues resolved. 
Oct. 12 - Leslie giving a massage to a Statue - Leslie takes time to pose in Leon
Oct. 12 - Inside Cathedral in Leon - The majesty and grandeur of these cathedrals takes your breath away.
Oct. 12 - Action on the Streets of Leon - There was some street action, but things were just ramping up when our travelers had to depart.
Oct. 12 - Roman Foot Prints in Leon - Foot prints of Romans survived the passage of time. These prints are used to indicate the original Roman encampment, a novel idea.
Day 28 Do they go to Astorga - Just how far will the travelers make it today? And What adventures?

Friday, 13 October 2017

last night in Mansilla de las Mulas

 October 11, 2017
last night in Mansilla de las Mulas
This is a town whose main claim to fame was as a mule market.  Those days have come and gone.  My two Amigos and I took a 34 km bus ride to Mule town and walked into Leon this morning. 
Yesterday was market day with all of those wonderful fruits vegetables and sausages and me with no kitchen. 
I  have checked into my hostal and there are even sheets and blankets.  This is different that the usual albergue (a hostal being a step up).
Oct. 11 - Even Walls are Used to Give Directions - Here the entire wall of a building is used to give information and directions to Pilgrims. The yellow 'Via Franka' is the yellow line along the bottom.
Sept 26 - Taking the Pilgrims way - Formal signage points to the next spot along the Way.
Sept 27 - Signage of a Different Variety - An example of helpful signage with an information panel. No yellow arrow this time. Note that there are many 'paths' or ways to Santiago and they often share the same trail along the way. There are a series of different coloured arrows to follow for each one, sometimes it does get confusing.
Sept. 28 - Cute Marker - Some of the markers are downright cute, like this one decorated with a carved gourd.
Day 24 Mansilla de las Mulas - 36 kms today with most of it on the bus.
Day 25 Leon - A casual 18km walk North into Leon.