Thursday, April 03, 2003

October 11, 2001
Fromista- Carrion de los Condes (windy/cold morning/warm day)
12.2m/19.5km - 210.9m/348.6km

Short walk today through rolling hills and past plowed fields of sugar beets and corn. This landscape makes me think of home and when we see a small tractor being driven through one village I am struck by an overwhelming sense of homesickness. We get to Carrion de los Condes by 1230P and are staying in the Monastery of Santa Clara because we have heard the other refugio in town is a dump. It's a peaceful place and we arrive early enough to get a room that sleeps only three. After taking showers and doing laundry we go into town for lunch. I have come down with a cold and B has the sniffles. J thinks the problem is we are not eating enough food so we all order hot meals instead of our usual sandwiches.

J and I have been visiting every open church we can find on this trip and after lunch we step across the street to the church of Santa Maria del Camino. When we get inside and look around I have a feeling of de ja vu- I know we have been in this church before. J and I turn our heads at the same time to look at each other and the second I see his face I know he feels the same way. We were in a church that looked like this a couple of day ago. The only thing different is the painting of the Skateboarding Saint in a small alcove on the right side of the building. She is not really skateboarding, she is floating in the air, but her stance is the same one a skateboarder takes and she floats there holding a sword over her head. This painting is very Bollywood in style and I cannot imagine why it is hanging in a Catholic Church. I like it a lot. When we step outside J and I decide we are now "churched out" and will not visit any more churches the rest of the way to Santiago.

The monastery is build around a courtyard and when we get back B and I sit out there while J takes a nap. She reads a book and I write notes about the walk. When I am finished I get up and start walking across the courtyard. When I get to the other side I glance to my right into the refugio office and see one of the Sister's leaning on the office counter and staring in my direction with an unfocused gaze. She stays that way for a few seconds and then focus on me and I wave at her. She stands up with a big smile on her face and enthusiastically waves back. For some reason this touches me and at the same time makes me want to cry. I return her smile, wave again, and then turn and walk back to where I was sitting.

That night we go into the center of town for dinner and while wandering around run into the French girls. They are talking to one of the Swiss boys and telling him a story about the General. The General is a Spanish pilgrim who wears camouflage clothing. We heard he is doing the pilgrimage in his mother's honor. It seems her dream was to walk the Camino but she died, so he is doing the walk in her place. The General is sweet in a drunken way. He never drinks water and always has a full wineskin with him as he walks. As we walk by we hear one of the girls complaining about the General and saying they let him buy them a meal and now they can't get rid of him. What jerks.

At dinner J says he wants to walk all the way to Sahagun tomorrow, a 25.2m/40.3km walk. He thinks by doing this we will jump ahead of the French girls and hopefully never see them again. B and I are willing and we agree to do a long day. After dinner B decides to call her parents and we stop at a phone booth. When she is finished she tells us she just found out her mother has cancer. We are shocked and offer our sympathy. It sounds like they caught it at an early stage because B's mother told her not to come home right away so B is going to complete the walk with us. As we walk back to the refugio I think about my own mother who has been in ill health for several years.

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