Leon – Hospital de Orbigo
27.9 km / 17.3 miles
I head out of Leon feeling refreshed. After a night of sleeping in my own queen size bed and a hot bath, I am ready to continue on. I run into Emilie along the way and we walk together again. She tells me about an albergue that her friend recommended, San Miguel. It is an art studio and gallery that features pilgrims works who stay at the albergue. Sounds cool to me, however it adds on an extra 6k of walking. I contemplate it throughout the day and ultimately decide to endure the extra mileage to stay there. I guess when on a once in a lifetime expedition, you say yes to the path less taken.
We cross one of the longest and best preserved 13th century medieval bridges in Spain to enter into the town of Hospital de Orbigo. This bridge has seen many acts of violence throughout time. Battles such as the battle in 452 when the Visigoths slaughtered the Swabians and subsequently provided the scene of confrontation between Christian forces and the Moors. More productively it has facilitated trade since Roman times including the passage of livestock as part of the cattle trail camino de la Canada not to mention pilgrims such as myself.
The stay at San Miguel is like many other private albergues. A room lined with bunk beds with the bottom bunk reserved for the older and heavier person, usually a man. Me being a small, younger girl, I accept the top, but am starting to get a little annoyed. The top is more of a risk and hazard than walking solo in Detroit at night (I am from the Detroit area, no judgments). There are hardly ever rails to protect from falling and often the bunk is just free standing in the middle of a room. A girl going from a king size bed who often wakes up sideways, sleeping on top is always nerve racking. Something I don’t think I have mentioned as of yet, is all the snoring and farting. There seem to be a lot more older men in their 70s walking, this I am unsure of why, possibly the movie has inspired them as well? They make for an interesting stay. I suppose at that age they have earned the right to fart and walk around in their underwear wherever they please.
Emilie spends her evening painting. I opt out. I brought a pad of paper and pen with me, thinking I would write while on this adventure. I had dreams of writing a book, maybe about my life, past relationships or even about this trip. Unfortunately writing is the last thing I ever want to do at the end of the day. I barely have enough energy to shower and it just seems so opposite of why I am here. My reason for being here was to experience life, something real. To be present with it all, the good and bad. To meet new people, eat new foods and sit with nature. Writing feels like it is taking me away from what is in front of me, something I am not ready to do quite yet.