This is officially a retrospective post, six days after having lost my mojo. Being ill saps the mind and body, so the will to write has been somewhat reduced. Dare I think it, the sap seems to be rising again, watch out Ellen. I really was pole axed for a night, day, night. Most orrifices kept me busy. However as with other things on the camino I discovered I was not alone. Mid grot I received a text from our pathfinder Edwina, saying there were water problems with the water and many pilgrims were dropping. She has spy like qualities our Edwina, but how could she have perfected her timing so. At least the episode was not infectious but more toxin related. A short sharp shock. I was sapped but not fully wilted.
I awoke after 36 hours of sleep pretty keen to get out of there. Ellen couldn't believe her luck. She had exhausted the tourist potential of the settlement by breakfast the day before. She had a taxi number and was prepared to bundle me into a vehicle before I could raise any objections. The girl was not for staying.
We manage 23, 32, 25 (not my beer belly figure) to get us into the fine city of Leon. Coincidentally it was a city in full fiesta party mode. Not desperately enticing to tired pilgrims. To cap it all, despite the best efforts of some old friends we met in the fiesta mayhem, the inns were most definitely full. I have to admit my fuse was growing a little short at this point. The tourist information girl who told me that helping people find accommodation in the city was not her job almost received both barrels. But no, calm prevailed. We headed for the Benedictine nunnery Albergue knowing it was pretty basic. Happy volunteers told us the doors shut in three hours and dorms were segregated. Mmmmmm. Not happy, but no problem, let's go outside and consider options, this was the first accommodation hitch of the trip. Sitting on a wall overlooking the adjacent square I happened to notice another door next to the medieval Albergue affair, clearly part of the same building. A give away sign said Hospedaria Paxa. Mmmmmm again. Wander in, habitacione doble, Por favor. Si, came the reply. The nuns really had come to the rescue, this was their posh hotel venture, and very nice too. We were saved!
Today we are 2 days beyond Leon. Don't think the moment was right to enjoy all it's offerings so we only stayed one day. I must mention this Meseta business once more. We put in three big days to get to Leon. The long day felt a little epic. The Meseta really is quite a chore. I was trying to describe it as I trudged along, but was having difficulties. I realised that description would embue it was some positive features that you could then picture and imagine. But this would not work. I realised that it is much better to describe the Meseta in terms of things that it does not have. So here we go, a very short representation of what the Meseta has not got. Hills, views, birds, animals, CHILDREN (we had a four day stretch of seeing none!), real farmers, life, houses, hens. Get my drift. This was more than a desert, most deserts actually being quite lively spaces if you stop and watch. No, this was systematic destruction of everything. The whole region had been reduced to a factory producing wheat and a few seeds. Very occasionally a spot had been overlooked by the tractor drivers and a frog croaked or a bird had the temerity to tweet, but that was about it. Even if the spaniards were happy to sacrifice such a large part of their territory to such use, any benefits accrued were certainly not 'trickling down'. Villages were ghostlike and pretty well dead. Even regional small towns were pretty down at heel.
There you go, losing your Mojo and travelling through such devastation is not good for the soul, and is not easy. It is easy to think you are becoming a little subjective, surely not all is bad. Unfortunately looking to pilgrims won't help you out here as they tend to agree. It is also all to easy to remember Navarre, a different place, a different region and what a different feel. General pride and prosperity. What we are really dealing with here is a land ownership issue. This massive area is owned by a very small number of very powerful absentee landlords. Unfettered power abuse is going on here, a very third world issue right in the heart of Spain. What a lot of issues Spain has.
Anyway after a day off we negotiated a complex route finding nightmare of an exit from Leon. We are in Astorgas. An ancient strategically placed town. We are staying with the nuns again, can't escape them. First person we meet as we enter the old city is Natalie, who has had her adventures. She calmly escorts us to the nuns. Slightly chilly room but 20Euros per room per night for modern cleanliness can't be bad. There is a strange Gaudi building nearby so we will explore tomorrow. Drinking a beer, looking forward to food. The Meseta petered out today. All is well with the world.