Thursday november 27 th 2014 Villavante , hostal Molino Galochas A little more than 20 km. at my first day on the Camino Frances, the route to France

Hospita Mercedes en ik

Hospita Mercedes and me

Now it’s 7:57 p.m.. Another 20 km. finished. Before writing this, I first read your messages. I enjoy your notes very much and they also encourage me to persevere. The last few afternoons / evenings uncertainty strikes me. Do’nt worry. The walk goes perfectly. Also the animals walk like machines. Unbelievable, just like cars. If you only refuel them on time. And staying outside at night seems not to harm them a bit, though I’m still worried about that. So why insecure? I have finished now the South-North route (Via de la Plata, 1000 km.) and I am on the West-East route (Camino Frances) leading to / from France. As for the Via de la Plata, I had a detailed booklet with all the inns, with addresses and phone numbers. But of this route, Via Frances, I have only a rough list of city names. On internet I have to search for a hostel for the next day, but if I arrive at an albergue in the evening, there is not anough time left and sometimes there is no wifi. In such case I have to try during the day to get a shelter for the next day. Therefore I need a cafeteria or something similar with wifi. That is hard to organize, because I need much time for walking. It’s a hassle and it takes a lot of time, even more because Leon in between often must eat. I never know before if Leon will have to spend the night again in a shed or yard, where is nothing to eat. The network coverage of the phone is lousy, so I often can not use it. Or the answer in Spanish at the phone is unintelligible for me. That gives a very unpleasant insecure feeling.

Yesterday I arrived in the town tavern of Astorga, the northernmost and last city of the Via de la Plata (I believe I already said so x times. Probably due to the 2nd glass of complimentary red wine during this dinner). Anyway, in Astorga everyone went to bed at 10 p.m. I sneeked outside through a basement door, I could open it from the inside, to the street, where my dear buddy Tosca lay rolled up in a corner against the building on his bed of a plastic bag covered with cardboard. I put Tosca in the bicycle cellar in the basement. Next I googled to find accommodation for tomorrow. Hopeless! And my dear blog didn’t get the necessary attention because of lack of time. I feel the daily need to write it all down to get rid of of it. Tomorrow at 7 am. the staff will open the inn again. So I had to get up before that time in order to tie Tosca outside again. Again a too short night. I hoped Leon did not string himself too tight turning around the trunk, so he can not lie down any more or can not graze? Or get his legs entangled in the 10 m. long rope? After 10 p.m. I decided to go and take a look at him, 15 min. away from the inn, on a vacant lot in the town with some grass. Everything seemingly O.K., only my nocturnal escapade was noticed by a neighboring watchdog that made loud and long alarm.
The people at the inn all walk the same direction for weeks , towards Santiago. So obvious camaraderie develops. Not in my case, ’cause I walk in the reversed direction: away from Santiago. I will be an exception and stay eccentric everywhere. Not always really nice, but I knew that on beforehand.
So early on my way. The animals were great, as always, despite the continuous drizzling rain and the cold weather: at the most maybe 5 degrees C. I mostly walked on the road, which was fortunately very quiet, wearing my rain cape. The disadvantage of wearing a hat and on top of that the cape over it, is that you don’t hear the cars well. A bit dangerous. But in the meantime we have learned at my command, to walk all three in a row: Tosca first, then I and horse Leon behind. But it is not perfect, because suddenly Leon can dash into a clump of fresh grass, or Tosca is very distracted by a bird, cat, or some smell. I already developed a habit with an oncoming car, to slightly move to the middle of the road so the car must swerve sharply. In the last moments I still move back to the roadside. Because there are idiots who drive still more dangerous than I do and that is that’s no fun!
In the afternoon the cape could be taken off again. I tied the animals and took two coffees con leche in a pub and phoned here and there for shelter for the night. I try my best with my poor Spanish, because here most people only speak Spanish. Tengo un caballo (I have a horse). Tosca, my dog, I don’t mention anymore. He is not allowed inside anyway. Welcome tonight, she said, and your horse too. I let Leon graze a lot before we arrived, also he scrounged a beet and the corn that I harvested. I still saved some concentrate, that I had received a few days ago for free from Pavo Spain, thanks to a secret Dutch benefactress, who works at Pavo Netherlands and who seems to follow my blog through facebook. Oladeladio! The evening hostal is fixed again. I arrived at Molina Galochas, a beautifully refurbished old mill near the city of Leon.
“I’m Mercedes, like the car”, she said, and I got two kisses as a welcome at Molino Galochas. And rightly so. Oladeladio, again. After the female police officer came running to me in Salamanca, but with other intentions than I hoped, this was (only) my 2nd some more personal treatment by a Spanish lady in 7 weeks. Yes Harry, daddy gets older. That means going for less. Mercedes cooked for me, did the laundry and helped me find lodging for the next two days, which worked out. The laundry was put before the fire stove to dry. She gave Tosca warm noodels with two pieces of meat. Great! Mercedes was good like her name was. Tosca is on the mat outside the front door and gets a coat for the night from me. I’m sitting in front of the fireplace, where my washed clothes hang drying. I socialized with Mercedes’ father, talked a little about children and grandchildren of the two of us, admired a book with pictures of Mercedes’ grandchildren and then updated my blog. A couple of my bags remain closed in most of the inns. I received a mail with an internet list of shelters, but it has also many expensive luxurous paradors and high priced hotels, and as I said, a lot of them are closed, and I didn’t mention yet my animals.                              Arranging shelter takes a lot of time. In the cities I can not go with horse and dog anyway. Often I don’t notice the markings of the Santiago route , because I walk in the opposite direction and because I must remain attentive to the movements of the animals and because I am wearing that hat + rain cape . That, especially the shelters, is all quite stressing to me. So I have changing moods . But walking is good, despite the rain. No complaining, it worked out so far, so good . And in a few weeks I get company again. Cozy. I go to bed satisfied.
NB I see that some of my answers to your comments are, but some are not published. I answered all the reactions. If you do not  receive my answer, sorry then. Then I did something wrong. That’s not because of lack of interest, but sometimes it takes me too much time to re-write an answer.

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