Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Pilgrimage Day 21: León - Villadangos del Páramo

Leon was beautiful yesterday and is even more beautiful in the early morning while I find my way out of the city. It is so quiet, almost no people and cars. Unfortunately it is not so beautiful when I get out of the city and come into the suburbs. Here I have to walk for 2 hours before I finally am in the open again. The suburbs are dirty and very noisy. This was a disappointment on a journey that is otherwise characterized by all that is beautiful. I appreciate even more to see the gravel road when it appeared. It is only when I come to La Virgen del Camino that the city released its grip on the environment. In the middle of the village is a charming little chapel erected in 1505 by an fellow, named Alvar Simóm, who claimed that he had seen the Virgin Mary here.
Now I am faced with a choice. Should I follow the paved road (which is the original pilgrimage route) and that most pilgrims choose? Or should I follow a new path that was built 10 years ago in a long stretch of beautiful forest area? I chose the highway. But regret later because this is not beautiful at all. I go partly parallell and partly on the asphalt road N-120.
It's blazing hot to walk 20 km on asphalt on a sunny day. Just walk and walk. Putting one foot in front of the other as I have done for 3 weeks now. I force myself to lift my head and shift focus, as I have done previously. I must change my attitude to the road. Ok, it's not pretty with asphalt. But the road is more than that. I look at the ruins of an old church. There is only one wall standing. But the funny thing is that storks have laid their nests here. I stop and look at the big storks that live here. I also noticed all the crosses that have been set up along the road and often in the middle of the field.

I arrive at Villadangos del Páramo after 5 hours. Not a village was passed on today's journey  from La Virgen del Camino. A long asphalt road where I had to really work hard with myself to break the monotony of my attitude to the road. There was actually several things that happened today as well. The hostel here in Villadangos del Páramo proved to be very good. The host gives me a glass of wine as a welcome greeting when I arrived. He stamps my pilgrim passport and I pay 3 euros for a room with 4 beds, but I have the room for myself tonight. He says he tries to give older people a room for themselves and let the young people sleep together in the large dormitory. Elderly people? Was he talking about me? I am only 57 years old and not elderly, -I thought. But why not ... Perhaps being an older man has its advantages? I think I like the idea after thinking about it a little bit. Yes, I am becoming older and can enjoy it if I want. A glass of wine for the elderly and a room for myself. Hihi. I make pasta for dinner, eat it outside on the lawn and feel that it's a long time since I have felt so young and vigorous. Maybe it's about time that i let mayself become older, but I still want to be young and vigorous, is there anything wrong with that? I eat my meal together with a Spanish father walking the pilgrimage together with his 10 year old son. They sit down next to me and ask if I have walked far and I see the young boy stare at my beard. They are starting their journey today and the young boy wants to know more about my journey fra Norway and of my walk from France. They ask for advice about their planned journey. It's funny to think about that I am now sitting here in Spain giving advice to others about their pilgrimage. The father says that having walked the pilgrimage is important for Spaniards and something that they include in their Curriculum Vitae, as a sign of endurance and patience. He wants to help his son to get this on his CV. The unemployment for young people is high in Spain and this might be of help for his son later in life, says a proud Spanish father. We sit together a while and talk on the lawn outside the hostel.

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