Carrion de los Condes is my destination for the day and I head straight for the Convent de Santa Clara, a gem of a place to spend the night – not a bunk bed in sight and although dated inside, it’s clean. A nun checks me in, scanning my pilgrim’s passport, and actual passport, with a discerning eye.
I don’t know what it is about the Camino and other long trails that bring out the best in people. Just sitting in the courtyard here, I watch acts of kindness. A pilgrim dresses another’s blisters after treating them A man helps an old woman remove her pack. Another appears with a bag of ice for her friend’s sore shin whilst food is shared. I see it here, I’ve seen it on the Pacific Crest Trail, the Appalachian Trail and most places I hike. People supporting each other, it’s a reassuring place to be; you know someone, somewhere, will always help you.
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A few days on the Meseta are enough to test the patience of most. Despite my psyche fighting, craving stimulation, it settles and accepts this path: a dead-straight trail, converging on a horizon that never seems to arrive. Once there, the pattern begins again. Towns and villages are spread out with miles in between, often appearing at the last minute, lying hidden behind a hill crest. Others, given away by their church spires, appear two hours before reaching them After 100 miles, the Meseta spits me out once more, dishevelled and muddied, but triumphant.
I leave the Albergue Verde in Hospital de Orbigo after another excellent stay. Many guests participated in the evening yoga session and I also took advantage. Held in the peace and tranquillity of the garden, it proved the ultimate wind down, and my muscles gratefully acknowledge a little attention. The food itself was just as good as the last time I stayed here. After the somewhat limited pilgrim’s menus, it was good to be treated to a full vegetarian feast.
I turn right at the end of the village towards Villares de Orbigo. The ten-mile route is the longer of two options but the other follows a noisy road; I’ll take longer and quieter over shorter and louder any day. Why the others don’t follow I don’t know.