To Carrion de los Condes

16.08.08 Saturday.

Fromista to Carrion de los Condes.

Breakfast as promised starting at 0600 in the albergue which gets us off to a fine start in the dark at 0630. There are the usual new road junctions with few signs to be negotiated but soon we pick up the old camino along the tarmac roadside, it is as straight as a roman road across the plains and waymarks are not needed but they are there in a superabundance. The light remains dim as there is thick cloud and soon it starts to rain heavily enough even for us northern Europeans to put on waterproofs. There is a fresh damp smell in the air although even the fairly heavy rain does little more than moisten the parched ground. We see few other pilgrims even when we stop and there are few when we arrive in Carrion and we suspect they are waiting for the rain to stop. We pass through a number of small villages but nowhere is open to sell us a cup of coffee (or anything stronger).
It must be said that by any standards the walk today is boring, there is little change in height (me are hovering around the 800 metres mark which explains to some extent the low temperature) or direction and the stubble fields stretch for miles. The small flowers at the roadside are still blooming and every now and then a lark sits on the path until we approach then flies on a few yards. A flight of four storks passing over is a major occurrence (repeated again in Carrion with a flypast of 5!), but the going is very easy and the kilometres click by with a small part rainbow appearing as we approach Carrion.
This town surprisingly is significantly larger than Fromista, it has three main churches, dozens of bars and shops. We walk around in the late morning and eventually stop at one of the three albergues to wait for opening at 1200 where we are greeted by a lay helper who speaks excellent English and two nuns. It is modern and spotless, and once again our extensive pages of place stamps starting in England provoke admiration. The Camino now is often done in pieces as many do not have time to walk the whole distance from home where ever that is, and those walking the way from their homes as in medieval times are relatively uncommon.
We meet the French tree surgeon whom we first encountered two days ago. He speaks nothing but French but seems happy to allow two English to mangle his mother tongue. We have a good lunch together and a surprising amount of communication occurs, although sophisticated concepts are beyond us all.
We did find another albergue that calls itself such but has a sign saying youth hostel no pilgrims in several languages. We think it may be a hostel for Spanish youth groups as there is an amount of non alberge accommodation in town though a lot seems to be full. There is a steady stream of pilgrims entering the hostel during the afternoon as they complete their walk for the day and the weather has brightened considerably.
We talk to the English speaking lay helper about Ray who will be arriving to walk with us today and are reassured that they will not turn him away even if there is no bed. We have mats so he will be fine on the floor!

Link to where we are on Google Maps