Trajectory: León à Hospital de Órbigo
Distance: 22 miles, or 35.2 kilometers
Miles Parallel to or on Roads: All
Effect on Morale: None
A Day of Sun and Smiles
Maybe it was having a hostel to myself last night, maybe it was the zero in León, but today’s 22 miles of road and road path walking passed quickly and enjoyably. The first 10 kilometers were in the city and suburbs, so it was basically like walking down the street. Highway walking is endless and painful, but walking past shops and restaurants, people and their Saturday morning interactions, is silly. With my backpack, I’m walking through people’s lives as a traveling tourist, snatching glimpses and making stories as I trotted uphill. There were also at least 20 people out today, which made the walk seem like more of a normal pursuit than it had during the past week where all I saw were creepy shadows and evil dogs. Around noon, I ran into a girl I’d met a few days ago, and walked with her and another girl for about an hour. We got to San Martín del Camino, a popular stop out of León (or at least that’s where everyone else stopped). A Coca Cola was imbibed, a cigarette was smoked, and I continued down the road.
Maybe I should have stayed, I thought. Isn’t the whole point of these experiences to make meaningful connections and have good times with people? I stopped and sat on a bench to eat some cheese and ponder. And then I kept walking. While I do think that many walkers have a positive experience on trails and paths because of The People, I’m having a better time calling the shots and being by myself. Additionally, I feel like people simply don’t like being alone, so they attach importance to what I see as banal chatting. Maybe I’m lucky to have good friends and thus higher standards?
The point is that I left in high spirits and arrived equally jolly. Maybe the incredible neon green baseball cap I bought at a dollar store-esque establishment had something to do with it, as my face was shielded and I didn’t feel crispy. Bar mitzvah swag.
I’m currently in Hospital de Órbigo, which means I have about 180 miles left of this journey. Hiking is weird: The beginning is slow, and then you’ve done a chunk, and then there’s his mind-fuck middle part where you feel like you’ll never make it, and then all of the sudden you’vecompleted 2/3 of the walk and you’re frantically wishing it were a week earlier. I think this last third is going to be good.
I leave you with a picture of the Puente de Órbigo, which is probably a metaphor.