Take what you need – Calzada de Coto to Leon 

 Friday’s hike to Reliegos from Calzada de Coto took an olympic 11 hours and left me delirious with exhaustion. Yesterday was, by far, the most physically tired I have been after a day on the camino despite the going being flat and the mileage just sub 30k.

 The mammoth hike took in a couple of villages before another long stretch of plane-tree lined senda (pilgrim path by the side of a busy road) that seemed to go on forever. It’s here I discovered that I had two (extra 😉 ) issues slowing me down that day.

Firstly, I have an allergy. To trees! Specifically these trees above. Never in my life have I been allergic to anything so I presume the level of fatigue I now have (maxo extremo) is contributing to the allergic reaction. For both yesterday’s and today’s walk I suffered from infernal sneezing bouts and a steadily streaming nose. Secondly, I was infected with bed bugs at either Formista or Calzada de Coto and have around 15-20 bites on my legs and feet. They burnt and itched like a $€>%^# and frequent foot scratching and shoe kicking slowed down the pace too.

 To ensure I kept the bed bugs to myself and spread them no further I dumped my sleeping bag and a pair of socks I’d left on the bed the night before on the camino and sprayed my pack and clothes with bed bug killer. Last night I got no new bites so I assume I got rid of any live bugs – who knows if any are about to hatch! Bleurgh!

Today’s walk was much shorter and for the last section we were able to avoid the ring roads and motorways of Leon city centre and catch the pilgrim bus into the heart of the city. I had struggled with the idea of busing any section of the camino but what with Clarisa’s ankle still jippy and the ridiculous 11 hour day yesterday I feel ok with the shortcut!

 So, we arrived in Leon and I was immediately enamoured with the place. It’s a charming place both in spirit and design and has a great energy. Usually when I feel a terrific pull to a place I start to daydream about a little pied-a-terre in the town centre and spend time browsing estate agent windows, but not this time.

 We arrived into the Unamuno Albergue around 2pm and managed to snaffle the last two beds (well, we didn’t manage to do anything of course it was all pre-destined that way!). We are in the very heart of Leon in a very clean and modern Albergue, two minutes walk from the cathedral, in a private twin room with bathroom for the princely sum of 15€.

 On the subject of money and commercialism, a couple of personally important lessons I am receiving on camino were reiterated at the evening mass in Leon cathedral. This section, from Sahagun to Leon has far more donativo coffee bars, restaurants and albergues than all the previous sections combined and this change has brought to my mind two important learnings. (Donativo means you can pay what you want)

 The first is a lesson I can truthfully say I have taken on board fully, I have felt a shift in my own possessiveness, greed and feelings of lack. That lesson being to trust what you need will be provided and to stop trying to own/control everything. For example, If you see a beautiful flower growing in nature (as you will every day on camino) it’s enough to admire it and accept it and enjoy it where it is, it is not necessary to pick it and take it home! And in my specific case, if you enter a beautiful city, like Leon, that touches your heart and which you find attractive, you do not need to buy an apartment there. It’s perfectly fine to admire an object/place or person (!) without needing to possess it in some way.
 This lesson, trusting in abundance, has led to a far greater generosity to my fellow pilgrims and in donativo businesses. It has always been in my nature to give, but my giving had within it the seed of expectance of something in return. Even if that something was non material. The camino has taught me to give freely, for I do live in absolute abundance and if I needed anything in return of course it would be provided, though likely not from the recipient of my own generosity!

 The second lesson, that I have heard in the last couple of days but not embraced fully is non-judgement. In our donativo albergue on Thursday evening we witnessed a few examples of pilgrims who seemingly had plenty in the material world leaving the donativo businesses with far less payment (or no payment) than the regular albergues. I really do struggle to accept this. It niggles at me now even to remember those who seem to take advantage of these wonderful establishments but, of course, the truth is, this is non of my business whatsoever! I know this mentally, but emotionally I have not been able to stop the judgements! Let’s see if I can work on that through to Finisterre.

So, tomorrow I have a rest day to explore Leon and this time I will take the full day unlike Pamplona and Burgos . Perhaps the Parador de Leon I booked a few days ago will accept a donativo payment of some fresh figs in exchange for one of their fine rooms. Wouldn’t that be something?!

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