Once again I’m rewarded for waking up at dawn. The rising sun has turned the morning dew into an endless silver sea. Yesterday we ate a lot of dust, today everybody is taking it easy. The Camino is mostly empty. I’m all alone with my shadow gently caressing the luscious fields. The weather is just perfect. Sunny but mild. I’m enjoying every step and far too many coffee breaks. I happily hop from one cafe to another. Although I didn’t take any music with me, the Proclaimers keep playing in my head. “But I would walk 500 miles. And I would walk 500 more.” My heavy legs sing another song: today I’ll be happy to walk 20. Turu-tutuhhh.
Just before reaching Sahagun, the Camino swings away from the main road to surprise me with yet another hidden marvel. After crossing a roman bridge in a shady poplar grove, the Ermita de la Virgen del Puente (the hermitage of Our Lady of the Bridge) pops up; A Mudéjar-style brick chapel built over a 12th century romanesque pilgrim hospice. Benches invite me to take a little break. After all, I have reached a key Camino moment. Two statues - King Alfonso VIII facing Bernard De Sedirac, Abbot of the St. Benedict monastery - mark the half way point. This corresponds more or less with my number of Camino days. I’ve been on the road for 15 days. If I’m saved from injuries, I’ll be able to cross the remaining half in less. But right now, I’m just looking forward to some rest in Leon.
The nearby town of Sahagun is inviting. The albergue municipal is housed in the Iglesia de la Trinidad with an army of storks living on its roof. I’m really tempted to sleep here, but with hardly 15 miles on my meter, it’s way too early to call it quits. I should at least try to hit the next village. I’m kinda regretting my decision as I pass the 12th century San Tirso church with its spectacular romanesque bell tower.
I almost miss the bridge to Calzada del Coto, my destination for today. The tiny village is lying on the other side of the busy Autovia A-231 highway. It’s not exactly the entertainment capital of the world, but the freshly renovated albergue is extremely comfortable. The nearby cafeteria - with its loud TV playing silly Spanish gameshows and extremely bored barman - is the only divertissement. Even the hospitalero - a sad, retired German - is hanging out here. Just when I’m starting to regret not staying in Sahagun, Remi walks in. I kinda grew fond of the crazy French pilgrim, who carries a dark secret. Few days back, in between some happy laughs, he told me that his cancer treatment is not working. The Camino will be his final journey. So when he tells me yet another story about the superior “grandes randonnées” in France and “l’esprit du chemin” I just smile and listen politely. Deep down, I’m praying that Santiago won’t be the end of his Camino of Life. I hope he's just half way.
- Calzada del Coto is a rather dull cul-de-sac with a brand new Albergue San Roque - open all year 14.00 to 22.00 h - +34 987 781 233 - 24 beds in a spacious dorm, donativo. Modern bathrooms. A basic breakfast is offered in the morning. For Wifi and basic snacks, walk to the nearby cafeteria.
- Try to sleep in Sahagun, the town before. The Albergue de Peregrinos Municipal Cluny is housed in the Iglesia de la Trinidad. 64 beds, 4 euro. A truly unique setting. The town is filled with romanesque marvels.
Next episode: ‘Day 16 to Puente Villarente - The Camino Seals’