Friday, October 16, 2009

More Camino Routing Wars

A short walk today from Fromista to Carrión de los Condes. Entirely along the provincial P980 Camino if the Province of Palencia’s Camino-designators were to be respected. I did not. This is a Camino-rewrite from the former Camino, which ran along the banks of the rio Ucieza. One author calls this a prime example of senda (“soulless errors of national development agencies”). What’s going on, he says, is a desire to further popularize the Camino by making it more accessible for large bus tour groups and wheelchair bound pilgrims. Plausible goals (at least the latter), but it’s hard to see the reasoning for making the highway-paralleling path the Camino and crossing the old Camino off the map. The pictures, taken from the same spot, show the new highway path (shown by white markers and a few lonely pilgrims) and the former route (the woman was a local walking her dog, not a returning pilgrim).
To complicate matters a tad, of course, the highway-paralleling path is almost certainly closer to the original, way-back-when Camino, since the Romans, medieval pilgrims and modern roadbuilders all favored the same routes. We’re fighting here for the integrity of the circa 1980 Camino recreation.
Luckily, the old (1980ish) Camino markers can still be found, and the path along the river is still there, although it’s slowly going back to grass – most pleasantly right now. I had a modest amount of company until reaching a point opposite the highway hamlet of Villarmentero, roughly halfway along, where an enterprising bar owner had painted yellow arrows routing riverside pilgrims back to the highway, and painted over the old yellow markers pointing along the river. Pretty crafty (other words also come to mind), but he tipped off what was going on by adding “Bar→” beneath his new highway-pointing arrows. So I continued happily along the river, where I could take pictures of reeds and floating leaves. Very relaxing.
In Carrion de los Condes I am staying in a hotel posing as a renovated monastery. The monastery with which it shares a wall is quite medieval, and my room looks out on the second-best cloister, but the room is very 2003. Still, the Hotel Monasterio de San Zoilo is the best thing in town. At least the best thing that’s open. There are some good churches, but they’re closed up tight, as is seemingly everything else. Luckily, I found an open supermercado to buy some bread and ham and yoghurt, because it’s entirely too cold to want to walk into the center of town trying to beat the odds and find a restaurante that’s open.