Theoretically I was going to take today off and catch-up on photos and email and sleep, but it never happened. It was such a beautiful day! I mostly hung out with the Canadians as we toured the city and ate. It is Canada’s day of Thanksgiving and we plan to meet for dinner. This is the Nelson, BC 5’s last day with me. Everyone except Eydie walked the camino from León to Santiago a couple of years ago, so 3 of the 5 are leaving for a couple of days in Bilbao. Eydie and Jessie are going to take a bus to 100 k from Santiago and then walk the final 100 k so Eydie can get her Compostella. I have bumped into them constantly since Roncevalles, and I will miss them.
After a cyber stop to receive and send holiday emails to Canada we wandered around; had churros and chocolate; took the tourist ”train” around old León. Today is also two holidays in León, the national Dia de Hispanidad (celebrating the hispanic world, including the disovery of America) and a more local Dia del Virgin de Pilar. In honor of the Virgin del Pilar there was a large group of Spaniards in Leónese costume, gathering about 10:00 am to walk the 7k of the camino from León to Virgen del Camino. It felt odd not to be going with them. The tourist train was packed with mostly Spanish tourists. We zipped about the streets under brilliant blue skies past the old town, modern buildings, the city walls. So many people were in the streets! (They were out full force yesterday and this evening just as we were rushing back to meet the 9:30 curfew, and for the first time I regretted our early hours, just when everyone else is sitting down to eat.) Towards the end of the train ride we were delighted to see Veera, exhausted from several 40+ days of walking sitting on a bench. After a good hug, we found a cafe for lunch – crowded with festive Spanish families – and had a huge meal that ended about 5:00, barely enough time to take a nap before meeting at 7 to celebrate the Canadian Thanksgiving.
Lots of pilgrims arrived in León today. Suddenly I was again surrounded by familiar faces, including people I’ve just met in the last few days, all greeting me warmly. (Some older friends included Michel also suffering a cold, and looking miserable, and Brian and Lauren, also not feeling so hot. And Tsuda, who unfortunately is planning on spending a few days in this city.)
There were 8 countries represented at the Thanksgiving dinner. Johannes & Reinhardt from Germany (met at San Bol), Olga, Edurne, Maria de los Angeles from Spain, Michel, Quittarie, Marie-Jo from France, Tsuda from Japan, Mina from South Korea (who studied japanese for 6 months in school so was able to communicate some with Tsuda – but we were still stumped when interpreting the menu which offered 3 different options for fish. While he ate the fillet we choose for him, he eyed Quittarie’s whole trout with envy. I don’t think he has eaten out very much. He once again went around and took photos of everyone’s meal!), Veera from Finland and Eydie, Jessie, Sharon, Nikki, Ann and Lauren from Canada. Lively conversations all around. It felt good.
Just as I was going into the restaurant I was stopped by an American couple I had never met but had heard about: Jim & Martha from Seattle. John, the Irishman with the ancient scallop shell had given them my email address and Nando and Eduardo had showed them pictures of me. Was I the Jeanne from Olympia they had heard of? I suspect the purple skirt and peach colored blouse tipped them off!
12 Oct 2009