Leon to Villar Majarife

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September 28th 2016
Published: October 22nd 2017
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Geo: 42.4831, -5.72666

We were up and out of Albergue San Francisco Assi about 8:15. The Camino took us up to the Cathedral where a farmers market was being set up and the early shoppers getting the pick of the crop. At this hour in the smaller towns, the streets had been deserted, but here everyone seemed to be out and in a hurry.

It was a long walk to break free of the city with its traffic and industrial feel. However, it seemed to go quickly because we hooked up with Jaime and Wade from Arizona. It was their first day on the Camino. We treated them to a cafe con leche as a welcoming. They were strong hikers and stayed with us a good part of the day.

We also bumped into Daniel from Ireland who will always say something to make you smile. He had also stayed at San Francisco last night and was sure "the free laundry was a rouse to steal your clothes". He had bumped into "newbies" as well and when they asked him about how to follow the yellow arrows, he showed them his two boots with yellow arrows and said, "I don't know I follow these!" He is one of the really fun pilgrims we have met. He has met an Australian girl who he has been walking with and has said an Irishman like himself would never be lucky enough to hook up with someone like her! Sweet and funny guy!

We passed through one village, Virgen del Camino, that had one place for a break but we were hoping for the 2nd being better, there was no second! This is a place that legend says the Virgin Mary appeared to a shepherd and was told to put a stone in his sling shot and where the stone landed, to build a hermitage on the spot where the stone landed. The bishop would not do it until, miraculously, the stone grew into a boulder.

The next village had no services but had a small park with several pilgrims. We all shared what we had: we had some sweet biscuit crackers, Cornelius' pastries and unknown pilgrim, chocolate cookies.

Most of this 21 kilometer day was spent walking with Cornelius from Salzburg, Austria. A very nice and interesting guy who worked in some capacity with the diocese of Salzburg and is doing the Camino with the Bishop from there. He is doing 30 kilometers a day and had actually done a 45km day!

Five of us (Wade, Jaime, Cornelius, and us) stopped for lunch in Oncina. We generally only buy beers and have our sandwiches or cheese and crackers but we did not shop the day before so we had some sort of beans with ham "bones" and an empanada. We were sad to say goodbye to Cornelius who would pass us by today because he was going 10 kilometers further than us. We parted with the discussion, Cornelius, we may not see you again, but we will think of you many times. This seems to be a central theme of our Camino.

It was only another five kilometers to our overnight village of Villar de Mazarife. We walked it alone on the asphalt road, or the narrow path just beside. We thought more than once, too bad Jaime and Wade's first day was a most unscenic stretch. There was a cool sign, mosaic, and pilgrim statue to welcome us.

We arrived at Albergue Tio Pepe and they had our reservation. Spoiled by private rooms, we asked and it was 50 euro, so we went with the 8 euro four-person room. General cleanup and laundry. Because it was siesta time we would have to do the market after 5:00. The Tio Pepe is a really nice place that has a bar/restaurant, offers a pilgrim menu and is on a pretty plaza right in front of the village's church. Every village, 20 people or 200, always has a church!

And a pretty church it is! A woman from the parish came to the albergue and let us know the church would be open for visitation at 5:00. Guess who was there, the German couple; we introduced ourselves to Annette and Hervick(sp??).

Our next stop was a telephone museum that left us shaking our heads, smiling, and very happy that we visited. The most incredible collection of everything related to the history of the telephone. It is one man's collection. He appears to be well into his 70's, and has converted his two-story home and courtyard into his personal museum.

After hitting the two markets in town for tomorrow's supplies, we had the 9 euro pilgrim meal at Tio Pepe, as did most who were staying there. We were at a table for four with Donna and John from New Zealand. They also started in St. John Pied de Port and we shared three weeks of Camino stories for the next two hours!

We closed down the bar (last pilgrims) about 9:30 after a glass of rose at the bar because they kicked us off our table so a local couple could have dinner.

Our four person room only had three of us, the third an English speaking young lady who didn't want to speak. The good thing about her was that she also didn't snore!

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