El Camino: Day 18

Day #18 El Camino

Saturday 30th September

Puenta Villarente > Leon

Distance walked: 11km

It’s Grand Final day in Australia. (It’s the equivalent of the Superbowl or the Champions League for our silly little sport (that none of you foreigners understand the rules). In the past I’ve been to the games and when I’ve been in North America I’ve watched it at a reasonable hour of 9pm in LA, but when I lived in the UK the game was 6am and it became a tradition to go out the night before and drink all night and then all morning watching the game in some horrid bar in London. The more I’ve lived away from Australia the less I’ve longed to watch AFL football. I grew up playing it and would go to games religiously and never saw my team win a premiership. Last year my dad’s team won and I was in a wine region of Argentina streaming on my laptop the match and I felt like I was there with him. It was an exciting moment. This year, my pop, my brother and sister in law and nieces team was the underdog and hadn’t won in many years got up to win it. I didn’t get up to watch it though. Instead, I got up at 5.30am. Around the same time I would have normally to watch or listen to the match live when in Europe, but this time I put on my bandages, my shoes, packed my bags and slowly strolled into Leon. Just a lazy 11km today. I found out the result later in the day and it made me smile for my family members and for the long suffering supporters of this team to have their moment. I couldn’t have been further from Australia though. Spain is a different world. The culture here is all about family, friends, doing very little work between siestas and throwing fiestas every damn weekend for no apparent reason. Wanting to stay out later than a 10pm curfew, (I learnt from Logroño) I secured an AirBNB for a bargain price. It was so central that I feared I wouldn’t sleep at all. There were stages set up everywhere and the city is beautiful. I stepped away from Pilgrim life and with the energy of not having to walk a long distance, I became a tourist. I visited the Catedral (free section only), had coffees, and did some essential shopping at a farmacia. I’m a grown up but this is the first day I ever bought Tiger balm. Stuff like that was always just in mum’s magic medicine cupboard. Who would have thought you needed to go get it yourself from stores!?

I thought I needed some lifts in my shoes, some inner soul and when I took my shoe to the store I discovered my shoes had a second soul in them already, I’d been wearing double thickness for 2 weeks without knowing. Maybe this is what has screwed my feet and caused blisters. Tomorrow I will walk without and see what happens.

I snuck into a concert of Cuban music in a theatre in the evening followed by some folk music in a town plaza. The streets were alive and the alcohol flowed. I had a mix of wine, sangria, cerveza and cider and not much to eat. The hangover coming wasn’t going to be pretty…

But tonight was a celebration for many reasons, the locals had their reasons, but for me, I’d completed some 500km and Richmond Tigers had won the GF and I was a cheap drunk! It was nice to forget about walking for one day and just enjoy being in a beautiful part of the world having a damn good time.

¡Buen Camino!

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