From a nearby house there’s the clinking of someone handwashing lunch dishes. A latch closes with a clunk, followed by an uneven footfall – an older man leaning heavily on his cane pauses to smile and wish us Buen Camino before taking his constitutional. This is the quiet of Sunday afternoon in rural Spain. Even the dogs are silent.
Our walk today by contrast has been a noisy affair.
We’ve encountered several large groups – up to twenty people walking together. In the silence of the country-side their voices carry a long way. And they have a lot to say to each other. I wonder whether they’ve joined the Camino in Leon – those who’ve been walking a while are usually quieter.
Other pilgrims sing as they walk(!), many are plugged into their phones listening to music, even audio books; and then there are those who have their music playing for all to enjoy.
When falling back to let the noisy ones pass me by didn’t work, I brought out my old turbo-charged booster rocket. It’s nice to know that after all these weeks of walking it’s still there when I need it.
The only problem is that while turbo charging past a noisy group solved that problem, it was only a few minutes before I’d have to bring it out again. Clearly, it won’t be a long term solution.
Tonight’s albergue is crowded, too. And noisy. It’s the only one open in this small town. Even the locals who were sitting at the bar enjoying a quiet Sunday drink disappeared as the pilgrim numbers swelled,
This might be the way of things from here. The Meseta is behind us, ahead are the crowds of Sarria to Santiago.
For now we’ve found an oasis of quiet – a bench seat in the shade – on the edge of the village.
Tomorrow, we’re walking to Astorga. It’s half our usual distance. According to the guidebook it’s an attractive town which has been an important stopping place on the Camino for centuries. It’s likely our last opportunity to replace our poles before we hit the mountains.