I really liked Leon and almost immediately upon leaving knew I'd have to return someday. It felt strange to me to look forward to a bigger city after the small towns of the Meseta and yet only have a few hours there to look around. I had a conversation with a woman I walked with almost every day from Astorga on--Natalie from Denmark, about how hard it can be to turn off tourist mode in your brain and just accept pilgrimage mode. In other words, it's in my nature to want to see everything I can--always on the look out for interesting little museums, wanting to see the historic buildings and wander the streets, reading up on the history or the famous foods of the area. Instead, on this journey, you are always simply passing through. The physical path of the Camino is what you get to know so well and you have to learn to ease your grip on all these interesting places you pass through.
Well, my app didn't end up working so well and, as it happened, I got more wrapped up in the walk as it went on, which is a good thing. During the second half of the walk , things began to click for me, despite the fact that my body was ready to reach its destination and began to voice big, loud complaints via my right foot and ankle. All my wretched limbs held together though and I hobbled into Santiago with friends on October 7 after 35 days of walking. I'm home now and just beginning to wrap my head around the experience. Did I dream the whole thing?
I'm sprucing up my sketchbook which I will post, along with some more thoughts on the Camino and some practical things I learned. Despite years of researching this trip, there were still things I hadn't thought out that would've helped me before I left. It just goes to show that each person's Camino is a different animal and despite that, we all have a shared journey. It was a horrible and wonderful trip and that's the only way I can think to describe it. Just like a month and a half of real life, there are good and bad and many in between days. I have to imagine that each is valuable, even if I can't see it yet.
This week, though, I will continue to share some images from the 2nd half of The Way.
I am suffering from muchas ampollas. After a hard hot days walk with a lot of pain I stopped in the tiny village of Lorca for the night then hobbled a couple hours the next morning to lovely Estella where I booked a room all to myself for rest and foot care. It's been beautiful scenery though and very nice people around every bend in the road.
This morning I made it to Estella, a short day so I can rest my feet. I e made it about 71 miles. 411 to go! Estella is small but ver picturesque. Perfect place for a break.
Two rough days with blisters beginning to develop but the pain was dulled by the beautiful Navarra region.
Started in St Jean with 482 miles to walk to Santiago. At the end of day five I have 429.5 to go
A long long day owing to sore muscles and fatigue from the last couple days. But a beautiful real through woods and farmland at dawn, passing through Burguete, one of Hemingway's favorite towns.
Lessons learned from from the long hot walk into Zubiri in the afternoon:
take shoes and socks off at least once during the walk; use every font to refill water bottles; lots of snacks especially when you start to zone out during the last five km.
San Juan Capistrano was one of my favorite weekend trips when I was a kid in Orange County. My aunt was a docent at the Mission and my sister and I spent many Saturday mornings fattening up the pigeons with bird seed, watching volunteers demonstrate tortilla making or wandering in and out of cool dark adobe buildings. It wasn't until I began visiting my sister when she moved to South County that I discovered the Los Rios Historic District tucked behind the Capistrano train depot, and it happens to be OC's oldest neighborhood!
The old cottages house cafes and garden shops which create a steady stream of tourist foot traffic, but there is also a sense of sleepy, orange blossom Old California crouching just behind the clockwork arrivals and departures of the Pacific Surfliner.
Some favorite San Juan Capistrano spots:
Seriously good scones and coffee at Hidden House Coffee, 31791 Los Rios Street
Hanging out with the day drinkers at Swallows Inn, 31786 Camino Capistrano
Las Catrinas for Mexican crafts and aspirational garden decor, 31742 Los Rios St
Shrimp tacos and a beer at the Mission Grill, 31721 Camino Capistrano
The gardens at Mission San Juan Capistrano, cant' miss it.