A jolly communal supper was given at the albergue last evening. We were several nationalities around the table – Brits, South African, Australian, American, Belgian and German. Three courses, 10 euros. Nothing special but ok and filling.
After dinner was polished off, a German guy brought his large laptop to the table. I made a comment about him carrying such a large piece of equipment and he responded that he wasn’t walking the camino, but was in fact filming/producing a wildlife programme for a German TV station.
There have been many occasions on this walk when I have heard a cuckoo cuckoo-ing and thought to myself that these birds have accompanied me on all five of my Caminos, and I don’t think I have ever seen one, and probably couldn’t identify one even if I did see it. Now, as fate would have it, this German TV producer was making a film about…..cuckoos. And he showed us some of the film he had been shooting in the area. The type of cuckoo that is prevalent in this area lay their eggs in the nests of crows and magpies. They keep a close watch on their intended nest and estimate very carefully when the host’s eggs will be laid, because the interloper must be the first to hatch. Apparently cuckoos can lay up to twenty eggs a year, usually every other day, and each egg in a different host nest. But very few survive to fledge. Apparently each cuckoo hen will always lay her eggs in the nest of a specific host breed. We asked many, many questions and the poor guy was very patient with us and answered every one. It was a fascinating evening.
This morning we left the albergue to a quickly fading sunrise and set off for our last few kms togther. 12.5 kms along the Camino Frances into the city of León. This is where Paul had always intended to bow out, but we were also losing Eli for the time being as she wanted a day’s rest in the city as her foot was giving her problems.
We said our goodbyes to our wonderful and much appreciated camigos and collected our special new San Salvador credenciales from the Nuns at the Benedictine Convent albergue. And then we were two. Marilyn and I set off to find the start of the Camino San Salvador, which is in front of the Parador.
The first part of the walk is alongside a very long stretch of grassed park and eventually through the seemingly never-ending affluent suburb of Carbajal until we were finally in open countryside with hills to climb, and animals to look at, and butterflies to try and catch on camera, and I got my macro mojo back as I snapped beautiful flowers along the trail. And now we were back on winding, stony, narrow paths through woodland and rough countryside with the outline Picos de Europa ahead to remind us of what we had in store over the next few days. It was delightful and breathtaking (in more ways than one!)
We had bought food for our supper as there are no shops or bars at our destination, and as it was quite hot we were carrying a full quota of water, so our packs were extra heavy. It is necessary to phone ahead to the hospitalero so that someone will be around to let you in. We arrived at around 17:00 after walking 12.5 km into León and 20 km back out again. It felt good to be tired from walking up and down steep hills, rather than pounding along flat surfaces as we had been doing for quite some time.
Cabanillas is a tiny village, with a population of only 25, so the very charming hospitalera informed us. She showed us into the albergue. There are four pull-down beds in a large room that obviously doubles as a venue for village activities. The kitchen has only a microwave with crockery and cutlery, there are two shower rooms and a very pleasant area outside for relaxing. Donativo, no wifi and virtually no phone signal.
As I sat outside after my shower I could hear a choir practising in a property to the front of the albergue, and cow bells chiming behind me. But these bells were being worn by horses, very heavy set animals with a few foals between them. The two sounds mingled most charmingly.
We made ourselves a supper of cous cous with onion, pepper, tomatoes and cheese, and very tasty it was too. Even if it had to be washed down with water rather than wine!
Today’s distance 32.5 km
Accumulated uphill elevation 328 m
Accumulated downhill elevation 217 m
Total distance 422.9 km
Average per day 26.4 km