50 Days of Camino

Kevin Soltysiak's travel log of the way of St. James, the "Camino de Santiago"

León — Hospital de Órbigo

After two days in León, it was time to leave and begin what felt like the final stretch to Santiago. During the week-end, I could feel that many pilgrims were not in such a hurry to finish the trip. Everybody had made friends, some had found a partner, and everybody was having a good time, giving little appeal to the prospect of returning to their regular lives for many of them.

Meantime, I couldn’t make up my mind regarding what I wanted to do once it would be over. Many options had crossed my mind, including to keep walking until it was too cold to enjoy it, and hopping from city to city throughout Portugal and Spain… I also had to to figure out whether I wanted to stick with Loïc and/or other friends I made along the way. When I started walking, I was unsure about my ability to see it through the end. Now I was unsure about when exactly it would end…

It was past 9h when we left León. Once we were out of the city I went on my own, needing some time for myself to think and process what I was going through. León was the last break I had planned to take before reaching Santiago, and leaving it meant the end was getting close. To finally see the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel felt odd, after having spent so much time walking.

On the other hand, I still had a bittersweet taste in my mouth: I have compared the camino to a group of classmates earlier in this story, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that drama is part of the package. The events of the previous day left me with the feeling that it was bound to happen again if I stayed around this group. One of the first time I talked with Monica, we discussed how relationships doesn’t have to last to have a meaning, wether it is with a friend or a lover. Sometimes, a few hours or days is all you need; sometimes, more can be too much.

Lunch bench

I went off on my own with that in mind. I had made a schedule for the next days: quite intense, with most days requiring around 35Km of walk except two shorter ones. I had spent most of the camino frances having fun and meeting people; now I wanted to find again the feeling of the first days, when Loïc and I were on our own.

That day proved to be an excellent start. I remember passing by Laurent at some point, but at the exception of Monica and Loïc I didn’t ran into anybody I knew. Some of my friends had left Leon after only one night, and those who didn’t were taking it slow. I had a brief chat with Mia, one of the girls I had dinner with the previous night, but otherwise I was on my own, enjoying the sun and the blue sky over my head.

I arrived in Hospital de Órbigo around 15h. I checked in the albergue, a very lovely place with a patio, a little backyard and 5 cute cats. I walked around town until Loïc checked in as well. I met a few other pilgrims that night, Nora and Mike, but at the exception of Mia, nobody that we knew was staying at our place, not even Monica. It really felt like a second beginning to our trip.

After having dinner, I started reading Treasure Island. I hadn’t read since crossing the Pyrenees… I suppose I was too busy drinking beers and wine.