At the time when one believes he has done already all possible roads and in all possible conditions, here it comes the surprise of today’s stage where for 24 km there is no shelter, water, food or any other relief to the human necessities. If you forgot to stock up food, drinks and other amenities, then by the third hour you start allucinating about visions of coffee shops in the fields which once they come closer they take the shape of wheat barns, of course deserted, and the ever present wind is resounding with a creepy laughter in derision.
I had to scratch the end of my backpack to find some remnants of a chocolate bar to get me some energy. By right the previous night dinner at the Casa de Cura Hostal in Calzadilla, was probably the best peregrino meal I had ever. Leo, the owner, served a superlative potato and zucchini soup and a succulent roast beef with a delicious sauce I could not waste. The company around the table of 12, was varied and the usual interesting conversation complemented the pleasant evening. The crowd comprised 2 Spanish, 3 Australian, 2 American, 2 Canadian, 2 German and one Italian/Singaporean. Key topic was competition in the spirit of the Camino. One way or another everyone had gone through a similar pattern by entering the first stages of the Camino with a competitive approach with others. I was no less and I suffered my consequences. Others were crumbling after three or four stages being unable to cope with the real discipline of the Camino, which is every day, rain or shine you wake up and walk for 6 hours. While competition and your stamina can sustain your enthusiasm for one or two stages, at the end the body will resent of the continuous effort and the resulting imbalance. Walking must be enjoying and loving any moment of it more than anything else, and cannot be constrained only on terms of performance. One can only do their best to ensure total harmony of the effort with the capability to enjoy it and be open to the positive side of things. If the balance is broken then we call it stress and a source of most diseases. How to apply this concept to the work life? If competition is necessary to improve one self and therefore one’s best, when is the inflexion point where competition is becoming negative? The answer lies in the many more stones will have to stomp upon along the way, we concluded.
The small rural city on Mansilla is showing off the horizon yet still 8km distant.
I have been told to take a bus from Mansilla to Leon to cutoff all the industrial suburbs. Fortunately the bus leaves after one hour, so an excellent timing to reach Leon today and check in in an hotel for two day to get some rest. Leon is a great city with an important history and surely I can spare one day for intellectual enjoyment. Also, my friend Lynette from Singapore is joining me to finish the last part of the Camino from Leon to Santiago and Finisterre. She will bring me new and warmer clothes from home. I am happy to see her, only wish she can cope with the relative hardship of the Camino carrying her backpack and living the simple pilgrim’s life.