We visited the museum in Carrion de los Condes' Church of Santiago last night before going to bed. The museum was filled with ancient paintings and sculptures depicting the crucifixion of Jesus and the conquering of the Arab "Moors" by St. James (the saint was said to have been an inspirational and rallying figure during the Christian-Muslim wars over Spanish territories).
The images were gruesome and the girls and I had a deep discussion concerning the use of fear and guilt during indoctrination and the many ways in which religion has been used as an excuse to conquer foreign territories.
It was an educational experience.
I risk losing followers by outright stating this, but I am not a Christian. I was raised a Methodist, but once I grew into adulthood and began researching the origins, history, and political usage of Christianity and other organized religions, I realized I simply did not/do not believe in the god of Christianity/Judaism. I respect other people's beliefs in those traditions - as long as those beliefs are not being used as an excuse to conquer foreign lands, discriminate against others, or prevent the equal rights of women.
We left Carrion de Los Condes this morning and walked a ten mile stretch that was flat as a pancake and devoid of scenery. The guidebook described the path as part of a 2000-year-old original Roman road, so I thought our day would prove interesting. Alas, someone decided to pour gravel all over this section, so instead of rock-hopping broken stones or carefully traversing a crumbling surface, we beat our feet on an excruciatingly long and straight gravel driveway (or so it felt).
This was our view, for hours...
This was, by far, The Most Boring Ten-Mile Stretch I have ever hiked in my life. In fact, I'll bet this is The Most Boring Ten-Mile Stretch in the Entire World. I challenge someone out there to find a trail more mind-numbing than this section of the Camino.
I amused myself (and annoyed the girls) by complaining every five minutes about the gravel, the lack of views, the way the road hurt my feet, etc. Alex rolled her eyes at me a lot and Sage pointed out the path's few redeeming qualities. There was a cute and fat bird, for example, that followed us for miles, chirping constantly and looking adorable. There were trees here and there, and the grass was ever-so-green, etc. That's Sage for you - she tends to look on the bright side of things. Me, I kvetch.
After three hundred years of hiking, we arrived at the small town of Calzadilla de la Cueza. I ordered a drink at the one bar and the girls and I discussed our options. We could stay here in the public albergue (80 people in 2 rooms) or the hotel (40 Euros for a double...that's not pricey, but it's more than my budget allows)...or we could walk another four miles to Ledigos. I read that the private albergue in Ledigos had rooms with a max of 8 people in them...we decided to push on toward Ledigos.
My beer both helped and harmed the rest of my walk. Though I was now in a better mood, my body felt dehydrated. I chugged some water soon after we started out from Ledigos, but then I felt too full. Clearly this was not my day. Either that, or I somehow transformed into a whiney mess during the previous three hours.
The walk to Ledigos was not bad. No never-ending boring gravel. Instead, a little walk by the road, up and over a small hill, into Ledigos itself.
The private albergue, El Palomar, is close to the town's entrance. We stopped in to check it out - and heaven! Anna, the cheery hospitalera, brought us straight to a bright and cozy private room with one large bed (for the girls) and one small bed (for me). The cost is only twenty Euros total(!). We share a bathroom with two other private rooms. Our beds are soft with thick blankets and we have heat and power outlets. Wonderful.
We ate our pilgrim's menu dinner at the attached bar - a huge plate of excellent salad and a huge plate of two fried eggs, French fries, and ham (each) -- and now we are hanging out in our quiet and comfy rooms. I'll have to post this tomorrow as there is no WiFi here.
I was wrong about the halfway point. We should reach that tomorrow. I'll write a bit more about our overall Camino experiences tomorrow evening, after we have passed that halfway point.
The girls and I have been averaging four Brierley stages every five days. If we keep this pace, then we 'll reach Santiago on April 22 or 23.
We head toward Sahagun tomorrow. Hopefully I'll sleep my grumbles away this evening.
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