Day 14: Hospital del Órbigo, 26 km

Back on the trail! I decided this morning that I’d take the alternative, more remote path instead of the main trail, which is right near the freeway. I also decided to take a taxi from León city center to the outskirts. Both were excellent decisions, and I had a fabulous solo day today, well, mostly solo.

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 After breakfast a very kind, though mildly confused taxi driver took me to the city limits, and into Fresno del Camino, which happens to be almost exactly 300km from Santiago. I got a relatively late start, hitting the trail around 8:30. But the trail is flat here, and being by myself I was able to pick up my pace.
I realized I hadn’t hiked alone for more than ten minutes at any point thus far. And it was so great! I followed behind and another pilgrim, one of four I’d see today, but kept my distance so I could remain alone. The first 10km was completely by myself, no music, just cool morning air and my thoughts drifting in all sorts of directions.

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 Eventually I caught up with the pilgrim ahead, a doctor from Amsterdam who had walked from up further in France with his wife who had since gone home. I didn’t mind walking with him, he understood the subtle, unspoken “rules” of walking, part of which is, just because you’re walking in step doesn’t mean you need talk.

 It was so refreshing to be walking on rested legs! I forgot how much I love walking when my body isn’t screaming at me.
A few km up the road we stopped for the first coffee of the day. Here we met a new hiker from Canada. He was incredibly excited, or nervous, and couldn’t seem to stop talking. The Dutch doctor, whose name I cannot pronounce, declared when he left temporarily, “he needs to calm down a bit.” But I felt a bit sorry for him, being new to the trail, jumping in at a point when many are experienced. His clothes and gear were so clean! So I walked with him for the next little while, answered his questions, learned probably too much about him. Accidentally stopped listening a few times. At the next town, he stopped and I specifically took a short break to continue on alone. Though my intention today was for a solo journey I was having a difficult time achieving it! That was my first pilgrim I’ve shaken. But I left him with others, so I don’t feel too badly about it. By 1:30 I had only 5km to go, and thankfully my body held up well, only in the last few km did I begin to get sore.
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I don’t know how I heard about Casa Verde, where I’m staying tonight. But it’s lovely, and they serve a communal vegetarian dinner and breakfast, payment for which is donation based. Vegetarian is a big deal on the Camino, since most things are meat based. Vegetables! So Exciting! It has a back lawn, which seems perfect for relaxing if it weren’t raining. I just avoided the rain by mere minutes, and spent the afternoon relaxing inside.

I’m planning a short day to Astorga tomorrow, 17 km. Which feels downright indulgent. I’d like to go further, but there are very awkward accommodation distances unless I want to stay in a tiny town, which, who knows perhaps I will! But for now I’m awaiting dinner, and listening to a French woman snore with impressive force, making me incredibly thankful for my earplugs that actually work. 

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