Camino de Santiago - Brian's Update No 15

In which Brian is increasingly being caught up in the pilgrimage

Days 72 to 86

Sat. 18th June

I have missed out quite a lot of my writing; I have found it almost impossible to write. There are a number of reasons, which combined make it almost impossible to knuckle down and get on with recording my Camino. A lot of it is now written in my heart and may never be recorded on paper.

To-day is my second day here in Leon. I have fallen for the place, it is steeped in character and history. I arrived yesterday fairly early in the day, around 12.30. I booked into Madres Benedictinas, a refugio in Convento Santa Maria de Las Carbajalas; I was again seeking a spiritual experience, such as I had in earlier refuges. It is a huge place, rows and rows of double bunks, kitchen, toilet block for male and female, and COLD showers. I never realised they were cold until I was in the cubicle, too late then to chicken out!

We had prayers and Compline, and a Perigrino Blessing, the nuns, mostly elderly, did chant and it was quite nice but not nearly moving as my earlier experiences. Could not compare to Eunate or Hospital de San Nicolas, both of those are for a very small number of people. Eunate I have already described, so I will give you some idea of Hospital de San Nicolas.

The refuge is run by a group of volunteers from the Italian Confraternity, like the Monastery there is no charge you simply donate whatever you like.

I have walked the last number of days with a very charming South African Lady, she is a great athlete, terrific walker, good conversationalist, I'm at ease in her company; her name is Frances. She could if she wished out strip me but we walk sometimes together or simply within sight of each other but at stops for "café con leche", a cold drink or a bite to eat, we are together. You constantly meet people you have seen on earlier occasions and we are always swapping experiences and seeking information about our friends.

Great news to-day Barbara, David, Brigetta, and Anita are here, hopefully I will see them to-morrow.

It is easy to separate, a different refuge, an earlier start, I need, in order to get my batteries charged, to go into Hostels for a night and contact can be lost. Also Barbara suffered a slight leg injury and was falling behind. Great to think we will meet to-morrow.

There is a festival on in Leon at the moment, the City is alive, scores of events, games, street shows, clowns, markets, a symphony concert this evening at 8.30, given by the Orqestra Sinfonica de Radiotelevision Espanola, I hope to attend.

On the street yesterday I was approached by a young man seeking directions, I must have looked the part of a knowledgeable local! Where was he from?

Newry of course! Glen McKevitt, originally from the Meadow now living on the Dublin Road - he looks well, Glen's Mum if you read this.

He leaves to-day for Paris, I think to continue his studies, we had a beer together, along with Frances, Paul from Liverpool, and Jane from Ballymena, nearer Ahoghill as far as I could make out. Jane also leaves for Paris today.

Lovely young people, doing languages or in Paul's case business studies and Spanish combined. Met Paul again this morning, got a great photograph, which I hope to send to his Mum!

Too much talking not enough writing, perhaps I'll get back to it.

My son Brian arrives later this evening, he has already been in touch, he has his friend J.J. with him, we will walk the Camino together tomorrow.

Days 87 to 90   

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