Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Rain in Spain

The hike into Leon, like any approach to a relatively big city, never promised to make any highlights list. Today dawned dark and stormy, as Snoopy would say, and never improved. At least not before I straggled into the Hotel Paris (!?) a few blocks from the soaring 13th Century Leon Cathedral. The good news was a balmy warmth, which actually made walking in the rain pleasant. Especially since I’m a sucker for mist and fog.
The wetness brought out all the moisture-loving critters. I thought this snail’s epic climb to the top of a four-foot dried-out plant deserved to be immortalized (alas, only by my iPhone camera, since every other camera was layers-deep in plastic bags, backpack rain covers, etc.) For all I know, snails climb to such epic heights every night. But I’d never seen one that high before. I resisted the temptation to take a similar picture of any of the zillions of slugs accompanying me on the Camino.
The second picture was taken as I was nervously crossing the 20-arch medieval bridge over the rio Porma in Vilarente. “Nervously” because the medieval builders didn’t have huge trucking rigs in mind when they built the puente. So as matters worked out, I had a concrete curb about 20-inches wide, with the rest of the bridge width occupied by 18-wheel rigs hurtling through the rain and fog. What could I do but turn my back on this and take a picture of the peaceful banks of the rio Porma?By a little past noon – after an extraordinarily confusing, unmarked crossing of four thundering express lanes in Valdelafuente over an unfinished pedestrian overpass that dumped me in the mud beside the expressway for a 300-yard slip-and-slide until I reached dry land, and walking several miles from there with an Englishman who goes awalking six or seven times a year, and who provided me both a list of his best walking paths in England and a company who will book overnights and provide baggage transfer – I had reached the relative heaven of a hotel with both internet access and CNN. Hard to bring myself to leave, but I did go out for a good lunch.