“Last day Meseta,” Han says to me. It’s the first sentence (of sorts) that anyone has uttered to me all morning. Until then we’ve all just been involved with our own shit. I repeat it verbatim to him with added exclamation mark. We high five. Han and I have roughly coincided on this journey since Azqueta. He walks slower than me but I keep stopping to do stuff like chanting or coffee or feet and he rarely stops. I usually pass him three times in the day. He’s 65, South Korean, speaks little English but is extremely happy to try. We mix bowing with handshakes when we see each other. His bow is beautiful and so unusual and meant. I try to echo it. If one of us gets to the Albergue before the other, we always review it when the other arrives, and move on if it doesn’t get the seal of approval. Last night before lights out (10) he unexpectedly translated for me when I smiled and waved at the young Korean couple from the night before and said, whilst smiling and nodding, knowing they speak no English: “You’re going to talk all night again aren’t you?” They looked shocked when he translated but there was method in it. We all slept well last night. And they were still walking hand in hand today. Poppets.
But there we are, Han and I. Sitting in the morning in the Albergue, waiting for a rain shower to stop. It’s 8am and it’s dark outside. I’d usually have left by now although I’ve slowed down a bit since Carrión.
They kick you out early, these Albergues. It’s worth mentioning for anyone considering this. After a fitful night of heat feet and gurgles a hand snakes in through the door at 7am prompt and snaps on the light. Horrible strip lights as often as not. We all shake off our hellish dreams and attempt to carve out an inch of personal space in which to put our pants on.
Nobody is quick in the morning because all of us are hurting. But none of us have very much stuff, so we totter around groaning and shoving things instinctively into the right compartments like characters in some “Zombie Packing” game that probably already exists FTP for Iphone with microtransactions.
This rain that Han and I are hoping will stop – it heralds the beginning of a fun new game in RL called “Winter”.
When I started trudging it was September. Those blissful beautiful Pyrenean days. It’ll be November before long and we are about to go up to 1,400 metres. God knows what the weather’s like in Galicia, but here in Castille it’s windy and there’s suddenly a chill. I’ve had very little use out of my thermals but I’m about to. Snow really is coming. I’m less happy mooching around in my stripy espadrilles in this weather. Luisa and I parted ways because she wanted to go shopping for a wooly jumper. I’ll see her again I reckon. There’s only one path. Plus we shared numbers despite my inner hermit barking with laughter. She’s good company. And we are all going to get colder very very soon.
Coming down into Leon this afternoon was a lovely experience, partly because it meant the end of the Meseta and partly because it’s an attractive town to walk into.
I booked a cheap Airbnb so I’ve got a spare room pretty centrally located and run by a Catholic chap who is definitely straight and keeps a gorgeous flat with lots of beautiful pictures of topless Jesus, helping us remember how we love God. Despite having a lovely room in an interesting central location, the first thing I’ve done is to take all my clothes to the laundrette again. That’s the downside of packing light. Worth the effort though, despite the fact my shoulders are a bit better than they were a month ago. Once they’ve dried I’m going to try to do some cold-foot tourism and then oh God oh God, for a vegetable curry!! Fat chance.
I’ll take advantage of the fact I’m in a metropolis to find food that isn’t meat and meat with meat and if I can’t find that just something – anything – spicy with a vegetable on it. And no, ten year old Al, no. Potatoes are definitely not vegetables.