Camino Diary: Walking The Camino Francais Day Twenty Three

DAY TWENTY THREE: 31 October 2012 from Calzidilla de la Cueza to Bercianos Del Real Camino
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Hidden in the fold of the flat landscape Calzidilla was Paris, Texas. I checked in to the luxury of Hostel Real Camino. I remember looking out on the landscape pregnant with nothingness. I had to hold on to time and place otherwise I could become the amnesiac Travis Henderson and end up wandering in the desert. The sullen bar maid and the desolate dried up tortilla the greeted me in the morning only served to amp up the tension. It was a bright, dry day ideal for walking but I seemed to be labouring under a blanket of silence, not a pilgrim in sight and even when I stopped for coffee it seemed that everyone else was on the other side of an invisible divide. I was gliding and floating rather than walking, there was an other worldly ethereal feel to the day. Arriving at Sahagun my expected stop for the night the sense of heaviness and silence only intensified. I felt this decaying, crumbling town close in on me, sucking me back in time to Arab invasions and martydom (Saint Facundo). Previously a seat of great ecclesiastical power and apparently littered with monasteries, churches and pilgrim hostels all I could see was deadness, deitritus of boredom and depression. I was glad the albergue was closed it gave me the excuse I needed to step out into dusk. Taking the route to Bercianos Del Real Camino, to avoid the tedium of the alternative Roman Road, I found myself walking along side the scrubby edges of a little used road parallel to the autopista. It was a desolate transition into the cinematic world of Almodovar and the incongruity of a shepherd and his sheep. In the absence of any cafes or bushes I found myself snatching a pee in the lee of an underpass and the rising panic of not knowing if there were any hostels at Bercianos. This was Halloween, the eve of All Souls Day. Fortunately I bumped into two of the many Koreans that walk the way and they cherrily guided me to the magical parish hostel almost 1km of route. This was the last night of the season. A chilly sunset created a beautiful palette of colours across the sky from my monastic bedroom. I felt lucky to have arrived and to share in an amazing communal meal laid on for donation with a vibrant alive bunch of pilgrims from Japan, Korean, Solvakia, the Canaries, Italy & Canada. I was back in the land of the living.

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