Monday, April 07, 2003

October 16, 2001
Leon- Villadangos del Paramo (cloudy & cool/warm afternoon)
13.6m/21.8km - 286.6m/465.1km

T stopped by at breakfast to say she is going home. She plans to come back and finish the Camino next year. I agree to pick up the things she mailed to Santiago and bring them home with me. I am sorry to see her go.

Hard to get back into walking this morning but after our 1000A rest break in Virgen del Camino it gets easier. Most of this section is along a highway and when we reach Valverde de la Virgen, we take another break. We are sitting at a bus stop and I am hungry so I reach into my pack and pull out a box of Melba Toast and start eating them. I pass the box to J and pull out a can of tuna pate, open it, and start dipping a piece of Melba Toast into it. B and J join me. J reaches into his pack and pulls out a can of ham pate and a container of olives. B pulls an apple and dates out of her pack and we have a meal. I can't believe how delicious and enjoyable this meal is. We are sitting on an old splintery bench six inches from the roadway with the food spread out on the bench seat, while cars and large trunks speeding by buffet us with the wind created by their passing, and we are having a great time.

When we get to Villadangos and the refugio we are surprised by how run down it looks. My guidebook describes it as a luxury refuge. Maybe five years ago but it has had hard use since then. I planned on taking a shower but there is no hot water. The refugio does have a kitchen and we decide we are tired of eating in restaurants and walk to a grocery store to buy food. The choices are limited so we decide to make spaghetti with tomato sauce for dinner. J finds a large bar of chocolate and mimes the question, "can we eat this" by pretending to eat it for the young lady behind the counter. She nods yes and we buy it too.

Even though there is no hot water, I do some laundry when we return and try to take it out to the backyard where I see a clothesline but I find the back door locked. I go out the front door, walk around the building, and hang up my clothes. When I come back in I do the same thing in reverse. When J is done with his wash he pulls a chair over to one of the back window, sets his laundry on the sash, climbs out the window, picks up his laundry and walks over to the clothesline. Why didn't I think of that? To get back in he puts another chair he finds out on the patio beneath the same window and we use this entrance the rest of the day.

Z, who is from Boston, is staying here too. She is one of several people we keep running into on and off on the road. The last time I saw her was in the refugio in Sahagun. We invite her to have dinner with us, and she contributes some vegetables that she has to the salad. After we finish eating J pulls out his chocolate bar and breaks off pieces and pass them around. There are two men sitting at the other end of the table eating their dinner and J offers them a piece too. When I first bite into my piece I am not sure about the taste so I take another bite. No, my mouth was right, this stuff is terrible. Everyone agrees. Is this very old chocolate? J examines the wrapper and then, with a disgusted look on his face, passes it to me. On the back of the wrapper are little cartoons showing how to use the chocolate to make that very thick bitter hot chocolate drink they have here in Spain. Our mistake gets a big laugh from all of us.

Around 800P the woman who takes care of the refugio come by to collect our fees and stamps our passports. By 900P we are in our sleeping bags for the night.

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