Wednesday, November 11, 2009

From León to Hospital de Orbigo via Villar de Mazarife

It was a long walk out of León, luckily I had made out the route the night before on my map, while having dinner with a fellow pilgrim from Japan. I was glad I did, because it was a bit complicated, and it was still dark when I started out, as the days are getting noticeably shorter by now, so daylight does not really start until after 8:30 AM.
It was a long walk, most of it on paved road, and I took the longer route once more to avoid walking along the highway. Still it was over 20 km to Villar de Mazarife, where I made my stop for the day at the albergue San Antonio at the start of the village. It was a nice albergue, and not very full, so as soon as I had showered and done my laundry by hand, I took a long nap. I was so tired, because the night before I had not slept well after a French woman came in to the dorm late, and turned all lights on, while she leisurely made her bed!! After that I couldn't fall asleep for a long while. I was making up for it now, and only woke up for dinner, which was communal - paella with salad and melon, before I went to bed again, and slept until past 7:30 am the next morning!
Then I went down for the communal breakfast, packed up, and was out by 8:30 AM. It was a cloudy morning, but no rain - yet.
The first 10 km went slow it seemed, but I had a nice stop at Villavente, where I met up with some of the Germans from the night before, and we had a long chat about the Camino and bedbugs! It seemed to be more and more a topic of conversations, and certainly bedbugs were affecting lots of people along the Camino!
I reached the albergue San Miguel just as it started raining in earnest, it had been threatening to rain all morning! I really liked the albergue, the hospitalieros were very friendly, and I was having my laundry done again in their washer and dryer - it was not going to be easy to get things dry otherwise, and it was an extra precaution against the bedbugs as well.
There were paintings all over the walls from the Camino, I noticed, and an easel and acrylic paints and brushes were set out in the sitting area. When I asked who the artist was, the answer was:"You!" How cool was that!
The friendly hospitalieros put newspapers down on the floor, and put a panel up for me on the easel, and told me to go ahead and paint to my hearts content!
So I had a wonderful time painting straight from the heart - al fresco - and after about 1 1/2 hour I had painted a scene from memory of a sunrise as I was leaving one of the small villages.
While I was painting the hospitalieros took several photos of me painting, and later told me it would be on their official website in a couple of months, so you can check out their website, to see if it's there.
In the meantime the rain had stopped, so I went out to explore the little village a bit. I had already crossed the bridge with the 20 arches, the main claim to fame of Hospital de Orbigo. The church of Santa Maria was also quite beautiful inside, especially the ceiling which a kind local lady pointed out to me, when I went in to see the church. She even turned on the special lighting for me, so I could really see it.
I had dinner with a German lady - Birgit - and I especially enjoyed the appetizer of melon and dried ham - so refreshing and delicious! The pilgrim's menus are certainly very good value - between 8-10 Euros for 3 courses including wine, but sorely lacking in vegetables and fruits most of the time, so anytime there is something with fresh fruit or vegetables, I go for it!

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