León to Hospital de Órbigo
Tiptoeing my way through the remnants of La Noche de San Juan, I left León at the cold, gray light of dawn. The remnants were empty beer bottles, food wrappers, puddles of vomit, over-indulged humans passed out because of their over-indulgence, and pairs of humans (vertical and horizontal) making out in this romantic environment.
Appears to have been quite a party!
Looking back at my journal from this day, I wrote a story about the “Kings of León” (not about these Kings of Leon). It’s not a judgmental piece, I’ve been in the exact place, but more of an urging for them (all young men in all lands) to search for their place in the world.
It’s a long, uphill suburban walk out of León with not much to see. Out of León, it doesn’t get any better, the walk is alongside the N-120 highway, so there is a constant flow of high-speed traffic. It was important for me on days like this to remind myself that the Camino is not a sightseeing tour but a pilgrimage. And pilgrimage should help us find contentment and joy in all aspects of life.
Fully out of the city, the Camino turns into a normal Meseta trek again…high temperatures, not much shade, and lots of solo time.
If you look closely at the pic above you will see mountains on the distant horizon, to the left of the church steeple. There are mountains in my near future!
The focal point of the picture, however, is the Puente de Órbigo leading into Hospital de Órbigo. This was my “off-stage” destination after my 21-mile walk.
It was 3:30 pm when I checked into my albergue on the entry side of town and settled in for the day. The albergue had a bar/restaurant so there was no need to go into town after laundry and the nap.
I spent the late afternoon/evening in the bar reading, writing, and people watching. This place was popular with the locals. It was fun to see the old-timers come in, be called by their name, and have their drink waiting for them by the time they climbed into their barstool.
I had an epiphany while writing and pondering, there were only 11 more walking days on my Camino. Two-thirds of the way through and it seemed like I had just started. And even though there were times in the early days where I didn’t think I would make it, the steady work of one step at a time had accumulated to this moment and the end was near. It was a bittersweet epiphany.
In closing, a word of advice…when communicating with family and friends back in the States about your arrival in Hospital de Órbigo, don’t send a cryptic message saying, “in hospital.”
They probably won’t find the humor in it…