Day 20: Léon to San Martin de Camino
In Indigenous culture in Australia they speak about the time of dreaming when the land was laid down. They also speak of songlines, roads and routes through the country of their ancestors along which exists stories of the creation of that area. These songlines seems to be almost a living breathing entity for Indigenous people in Australia. I never quite got it before. I understood what was being said but it didn’t really mean anything to me. Now I understand.
We who walk and have walked the Camino (note the capital C) talk of it almost as if it’s alive. A presence that can guide if not control our lives whilst on it. We say the Camino will provide. Need new shoes then the Camino will provide a shop for shoes or someother solution. Need a break then the Camino might provide an easy day or a peaceful Albergue or a town located by the river. The Camino also provides balance, no one gets off scott free, those with blisters might be given a great day those without might have to endure a hard slog. The Camino is just a pathway and yet those of us who walk it embue it with so much more. I walk in the footsteps of others, I feel like I’m following something like a songline.
This morning I followed the songline out of Léon, past the street sweepers and the Leonard Cohen posters I walked the early morning streets. I walked the straight road out of the town, past shops and car dealerships, bars and cafes. I walked through the abandoned hobbit village. A village of little domed houses covered in earth and grass with a chimney and one doorway. No one lives in the village anymore but if hobbits lived anywhere it was here (of course they could just be wine cellars but in the spirit of Yann Martel’s “Life of Pi” I’d prefer to believe my story). I walked past fields of corn and watched as aqueducts fed water into the fields. Sometimes the water rushed through creating little white water rapids and at other times it flowed so languidly as if tired from the rushing and determined to take it easy for awhile. I walked past fields of spinach in which errant corn was growing, poking it’s green straight leaves high above the crumpled spinach leaves.
I walked and walked, stopping for coffee and once to chat and share a cake with a Frenchman who’d walked from his front door in a house near Lyon. Then I walked into a beautiful sight. A little country path wound it’s way past a stream and then through a forest. A forest! Enough of parched earth, barren wheatfields and hardy scrubs here at last was the forest again.
I can smell the nearby mountains, I can see the landscape beginning to change. The soil, still hardy, supports more trees and bushes. There is water. Ahead of us lie mounds of mountains piled on the horizon, ready for our arrival. The forest didn’t last long but it is a taste of things to come.
The last 4km I slowed down, not wanting the walk to end. I arrived before 11am in the dullest town yet. I enjoyed the day’s walk immensely. It wasn’t particularly pleasant terrain, dull even but I’m enjoying the head space, the response of my body, the sun. I am not looking forward to the Camino ending. I am in the moment. The Camino is singing to me.
That evening in the Albergue our Italian friend decided to cook us a meal. I went to help her with the shopping and within a short while we were all sitting down to bowl fulls of spaghetti, bread and red wine. Another fitting end to a day on the Camino.
— Posted from my phone.