Day 18 (20.5 km)
Frómista – Carrión de los Condes
Today’s walk seemed long and arduous, even though it was a mere 12.7 miles. It was devoid of much in the way of flora and fauna. If you have a lot of thinking to do, this would be the stretch (Burgos – Leon) to do it, or better yet, rent a bike and get through it in a more pleasant manner. We walk along a gravel trail that parallels a main highway, which makes sense seeing as the Camino was a main trade route connecting each city/village from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean. And so far we have not been to a city/village that St. James did not want to stop in, and I can see why. They each have their own charm and spirit.
Along the way we have seen road signs indicating “deer crossing”, but we have yet to have spied one (and we’re pretty good at it). We are beginning to think that the sighting of deer is akin to seeing ” Bigfoot” in our Northwest. There is so much grazing land with the wheat, clover and alfalfa fields, we are perplexed as to why we haven’t seen any deer as of yet. It does, however, give us something to do all morning as we plod along with the sun slowly rising at our backs. Occasionally a reaper or tractor rattles down the road toward us breaking the monotony of our cadence and giving us pause to step off the trail and wave at a new face.
Tonight we stay at Albergue Espiritu Santo, which is run by nuns and appears to be an old parochial school. When we are greeted, we are told that the pilgrim mass is at 8pm, and get the “message” (as only sister could convey) that we shouldn’t miss it. Sister was right. Whom should we see on our way to mass, but Maureen! This girl seems to pop up on a regular basis. A joyous reunion ensued. The pilgrim’s mass at Santa Maria del Camino is truly one NOT to be missed. I don’t know how to explain it, except I have never felt so much love and peace as I did that evening. It appeared that I was not the only one who had the same experience. Tears of what can only be described as joy leaked from many an eye. A special blessing and a gift from the sisters (a hand crafted star to remind us of the light and infinite love of God) were given to all the pilgrims. At the end of the blessing, we were directed to a statue of Mary and told that for over 800 years, peregrinos such as us have been coming to this church lighting a candle and praying before her. Holy Shit! The look on everyone’s face (mine included), was in fact…Holy Shit! 800 years! That is a lot of people. It really puts this journey in perspective, its significance and how lucky we are to have this opportunity to walk this path. I wish I had a time machine, like Bill & Ted (you know Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure… the movie.). I have so many questions.
Be Strong! Austin Strong!