A common man marvels at uncommon things. A wise man marvels at the commonplace. CONFUCIUS

Sunday, 3 February 2008

The Road Within

From Itero to Leon it's about 120 km, which I walked in 4 days at an average of 30 km a day. I had to dig deep into myself during this part of the journey. I found it psychologically hard. I think there were various reasons for this. For a start, exterior distractions were minimal - or certainly less obvious - on the prairie land of the Tierra de Campos. There were few features, few landmarks. Sometimes you would walk for many hours without any significant change in the landcape. Often through fog. Also, many of the paths were long and straight and followed roads. These paths were called senda and had been specially made for the Camino travellers. However they were often soulless and always hard on the feet. Yet eventually, after a few days, I grew to accept these wide plains and straight paths, and even to enjoy them. It was just a question of perspective, of expectation. The problem lay in myself, not in the landscape. I dug even deeper. I internalized the whole experience more than ever before. And I grew to appreciate the little details of this flat, farming landscape - a ruined hermitage, a red-mud adobe house, a stagnant canal. One evening the fog lifted and I saw a magnificent purple sunset over the town of Mansilla.

I won't go into detail about all the towns and villages I passed through during these soul-searching 4 days - many have blurred into each other in my mind - Fromista, Poblacion, Villovieco, Villasirga, Moratinos, El Burgo Ranero... In Carrion de los Condes I spent a night in unusual luxury at the restored monastery of San Zoilo which is now a very smart and beautiful hotel. Just before Ledigos I took a variation from the main road route on a path through woodland (it was strange to see a few trees for a while!) near the rio Cueza. In Sahagún I went to early morning mass. I had now crossed from Palencia into the wealthy province of Leon. The 1st photo, taken just before Sahagún, shows the simple, brick built sanctuary of the hermitage of Our Lady of the Bridge (Ermita Virgen del Puente) and the 2nd photo is of the bridge itself. The 3rd photo was taken in Sahagún, an ordinary, unpretentious and, I found, friendly town, rich in ancient buildings.


Loren said...

I find I get some of my very best photos when there is "nothing" about because I begin to look harder to see what is there.

I made the same discovery many years ago when I was stationed in the rather bleak Mojave Desert while in the army. At first all I could do was long for my beloved Pacific Northwest mountains. But before I left I began to appreciate the subtle changes in season and the wildlife that managed to survive under such harsh conditions.

Albi said...

Just been enjoying your blog. Strange coincidence, as I'm blogging the Camino too, but going in the wrong direction. I wonder where our paths shall cross?

The Solitary Walker said...

Yes, truly, less can sometimes be more, Loren. Magic, isn't it?

Albi - perhaps it's me who went in the wrong direction? Perhaps our paths already crossed but we didn't realize it.