Wednesday, May 21, 2008

From Leon

These photos cover the period described in the post below, from 17 to 21 May 2008. As before, they follow the (chronological) narrative sequence of the post itself.
191. Sunrise behind the pilgrim's back leaving Hontonas
192. The hospice of San Anton and its Arco de San Anton on the approach to Castrojeritz. It was founded in the C11 to cure the pilgrim scourge St Anthony's Fire ofteh leading to gangrene.
193. The Arco de San Anton
194. Detail of the Arc
195. Entering Castrojeritz
196. Medieval cross
197. Possibly the Collegiate Church of Our Lady of the Apple (Nuestra Senora del Manzano) in Castrojeritz
198. Another of the significant medieval churches in Castrojeritz
199. The ruins of a castle in the distance from Castrojeritz
200. Intimations of mortality offered to the pilgrim and others
201. Another of Castrojeritz's churches, built to support and nourish medieval pilgrims 202. Welcome material provision for the medieval and later pilgrim
203. The climb ahead, to Alto Motelares
204. The view back from Alto Mostelares
205. The descent from Alto Mostelares onto the well cultivated plain and the path to Boadilla
206. The Meseta as the Spanish breadbasket
207. Three French pilgrims
208. The 11 arched Romanesque Puenta de Itero
209. It pays to advertise, even to pilgrims.
210. Mary's mother is a more central figure in Spanish religious practice and devotion. Queens Park could use such a calle.
211. The courtyard of the albergue at Boadilla del Camino
212. An interior view of the dormitory at the Boadilla albergue
213. The C16 church of Santa Maria at Boadilla, happily opened for us by a kind parishioner
214. Its treasure is this C14 stone baptismal font
215. Detail from a side altar-piece in the church
216. The rollo (gibbet?) in the square at Boadilla. 'Tis a caution against misbehaviour still.
217. The sunrise casts a orange-pink hue over the canal leading to Fromista
218. The Fromista canal lock gates
219. Outside Fromista en route to Carrion de los Condes
220. A view on the way from Fromista to Carrion
221. Hermitage of the Virgin of the River [Ucieza]
222. In these bodegas in the hillside where the locals store their personal wine collection secure from the summer heat. They seem to make themselves at home. And to think that some people go on about a man's shed.
223. A modern monument to the medieval pilgrim in Carrion
224. From the C12 Iglesia de Santa Maria del Camino in Carrion
225. The surviving Romanesque facade of the C12 Iglesia de Santiago in Carrion
226. Further detail of the Santiago facade
227. The private hotel operating in the former Monsterio de San Zoilo (see further photos below)
228. The C9 (and later) Monasterio de San Zoilo has had many uses since its original ministry to pilgrims. It is now operating as a private hotel. This is part of its original facade. 229. The modest parroquial church in Carrion with its own Rubens adoration of the Magi (see next photo)
230. The attribution is to Rubens (see previous photo)
231. Alex, Ana and Rosie, studying communications together in Madrid. Spanish communications could not be in better hands.
232. Dinner in Carrion with Richard and Renee (Quebec)
233. Monasterio de Santa Clara in Carrion
234. The church of the C11 Monasterio de San Zoilo, now part of a private hotel in Carrion
235. The altar piece in the church
236. The cloister of the Monasterio de San Zoilo
237. The San Zoilo cloister
238. The C12 Iglesia de Santa Maria in Carrion
239. The Cathedral at Leon
240. The extraordinary rose window in the Cathedral at Leon
241. Sad farewell dinner for Sallie (centre) on her last night as a pilgrim. Her great Camino friend Jennifer (USA) joined us for dinner in Leon.
242. The Benedictinas albergue in Leon
243. Antonio Gaudi in bronze in the square before his great Casa de Botines (see next photo)
244. Gaudi's Casa de Botines, with its nod to traditional Spanish architecture. The statue of the great man (see previous photo) is in the left foreground
245. The cloister of the Iglesia de San Isidore
246. The Door of Forgiveness at the Iglesia de San Isidore (see also #???)
247. Detail of the Door of Forgiveness in the C11 Iglesia de San Isidoro. In the Middle Ages, pilgrims too ill to proceed further might enter this door and obtain the full indulgence applying to completion of the Camino.
248. Farewell meal in Leon with mostly Italian pilgrims

Sorry for the silence. A mixture of reasons but too tedious to relate and to read.

Context of this blog

I´m writing from Leon to which I reluctantly travelled by bus (!!!) yesterday from Carrion de los Condes after problems with right Achilles tendon and foot over the past 10 days or so. I have not burdened readers with this information before, partly because I´ve been hoping it would self-correct. It won´t but I´m back on the Camino tomorrow for the remaining 326 kms, I hope.

On the basis of my self-diagnosis of Achilles tendon problems, my personal physician in Brisbane gave me expert advice to rest for a couple of days. That was on Monday morning, my time. Later that afternoon, I went to the Centro de Salud in Carrion who told me that it was not the evil Achilles tendon but ligament damage in my foot. That sounded better. I took the bus to Leon yesterday and today went to a physio who told me that what I have is a typical Achilles tendon problem. She treated me, put on a strip to stretch the tendon, told me to see another physio in 2-3 days, apply ice and Voltaren (not together) and walk slowly. I´ll do that.

It´s a pity to miss the 90 kms between Carrion and Leon but it´s the least interesting stretch. Perhaps it will give me time for the Camino Fisterre at the end, to Finisterre.

Hontanos to Boadilla, Saturday 17 May

It was a lovely dinner in Hontonas on Friday night with a young crowd of Germans, Hungarians, and three students from a Spanish university studying Communications, one Spanish, another from Switzerland of Iranian parents and the other from Mexico. Michael from Siegen played the guitar in the courtyard and we sang Beatles and other songs. Lovely night. Slept in a room with Sallie from Canada, Di from Melbourne, Catherine from Belgium (just defended her PhD in psychology of the emotions of guilt and shame at the Louvain. A 30 year old who reminds me so much of my Sophie). Also there were a German father and son, a lovely pair, and also a few non-Anglophone German snorers. (This is not Eden.)

The walk the next day was like much of the Camino, a walk to and through medieval villages formed to support pilgrims and leaving the remnants of a pilgrim infrastructure. There are few of the old pilgrim hostals left but the churches remain, often 3 or 4 in a town of no size of no significance (a permanent population of 200 or so would not be unusual). Sadly, the churches are usually closed as we walk through but the bars are open, usually in old buildings, with coffee, Coke, bocadillos (baguettes) of ham and cheese and los servicios, toilets. (There are no public toilets to my knowledge in Spain.) The gathering of pilgrims at the bars is part of the communal life of the Camino. More on that later.

Anyway, the walk from Hontonas leads through Castrojeritz. Before Castrojeritz is the remnant of the Gothich Convento de San Anton, built to care for pilgrims suffering from ergotism (leading to gangrene) in the 10 and 11th centuries. Then we climb the summit of Mostelares, walk for 500 metres and then descent steeply, walk across the Meseta again until the tiny village of Boadilla where I spent the evening at a lovely family owned albergue. We had an exceptional communal meal. The Iglesia of the Anuncion was open that afternoon. It is a lovely C16 church with a beautiful C14 stone baptismal font and outside it, in the square, a C15 rollo (gibbet)

Boadilla to Carrion de los Condes, Sunday 18 May

Set off at 6.30 for Carrion of the Counts (the rulers of the town, the Leonese Beni-Gomez family). Lovely sunrise behind me while I walked by a canal and, after Fromista, by the banks of the river Ucieza where the bird life and music was so rich and beautiful. 27 kms.

On Sunday evening I stayed at the Monasterio de Santa Clara where Francis of Assisi is thought to have stayed (but sadly not in my modern quarters). Lovely peregrino dinner with Quebec couple.

Carrion is rich with C12 and later churches most of which I see the inside of over Sunday and Monday. Had Mass on Monday morning at the Monasterio with its cloistered nuns singing from behind the other congregation of 5, three local women and two peregrinos.

Carrion de los Condes, Monday 19 May

Deciding to follow the wise advice from Brisbane, I stayed in Carrion for Monday, at the Real Monsterio San Zoilo, where there has been a Benediectine (Cluniac) monastery from the C10 serving pilgrims. Now it is a private hotel of some luxury and unspeakable beauty in its Inglesia and Renaissance cloister. All for 54 Euros for the night! I had dinner with peregrino chums in town. (Not sure that the hotel is ready for my green and yellow thongs at dinner.)

Carrion to Leon, Tuesday 20 May

Had a lie in, a smorgasbord brekkie at the hotel, my beard removed at the hairdressers and took the bus to Leon with Sallie from Canada. (Friends just keep recurring--I ran into so many on Monday around Carrion.)

Sallie and I settled into the albergue at Leon run by lovely hospitaleros for the Benedictine nuns. In the afternoon I went to the extraordinary cathedral in Leon. Its internal light with 125 or so stained glass windows is extraordinary. Only Chartres stands with it overall. I shall never forget it. Went to Mass in a side chapel that was once a library before Napoleon´s forces sacked it.

Sadly, just before Mass at 6 pm, Sallie has her runes read by a fellow Canadian, a paramedic, who told her that she was facing serious risk of a clot etc if she continues with her distended veins. She was teary, of course. She wanted to finish the trek to SdC and she is made of strong stuff in a tiny frame. (She reminds me of both Merle and Bernice, two great troopers who have also had their losses.) We had a farewell dinner (we are a day ahead of most of our cohort still on the trail). Happily, I spotted her great friend, Jennifer, an Episcopalian Minister from Rhode Island, who joined us for the meal. Jennifer also has Achilles tendon problems and has been resting in a lovely pension in Leon. She arranged for me to take it over for one night- tonight - before I get back on the road tomorrow. She set off again this morn.

Wedding anniversary

Tomorrow will be my 37th wedding anniversary. It´s a great pity to be celebrating it away from Ana but I shall be home in 3 weeks. I shall ask friends at the Camino meal tomorrow night to raise their glasses of vinotinto to her. May they share some of my joy.

Ultreyia tomorrow. Farewell, friends.

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