Stayed and an Albergue Gil next to the Elvis Bar (as seen in The Way) in Reliegos last night. It was a room with three sets of bunks. Two of the three bunkmates were Judith and Annie. Both were childhood friends from Hungary, but Judith lives in the UK. We had a nice dinner and talked about income disparity throughout the world. In Hungary, teachers and doctors make 500 Euros per month. People are leaving the country in droves in search of higher wages.
I started walking this AM around 7:00 and ran into Sting’s replica, Steve, from La Grande, Oregon. I asked him where he was going and he responded “where ever I can make a difference”. There was no time lapse to make the decision that this was not a normal encounter. At 60, he terminated his house lease, gave away his stuff, and headed to Spain to walk the Camino. Has no plan to return to Oregon. He has done charity work in Africa, India, and Romania. He told me a story about meeting an elderly Jewish lady in Romania on a train. She had been to Auschwitz and told him to always forgive and never hate. It changed his life. In October, he travels to Egypt to meet with the leaders of the Tahrir Square revolution. I told him how things just seem to work out for me on the Camino compared to my 2000 mile bike trip through Europe in 2006. During that adventure l had chaos with the wind and some logistics. He suggested that maybe my life was so chaotic because I attracted the problems. Hit me like a ton of bricks. After eating breakfast with Steve, I visited the bathroom. When I returned, Miguel (Helena’s Father) was in my bar stool.
After breakfast, I ran into Eugina. She was nursing a big hangover and her feet are in bad shape. I spent the rest of the day leapfrogging Steve and his friend Mary Beth from Canada.
I walked near the highway for about half the day. It was busy and dangerous. Our proximity to the drivers was close, but our heads were in different worlds.
I planned to get a nice hotel and take a day for rest in Leon. I became lost and alone in a big city where English was not common. I lost the yellow arrows of comfort. I tried two hotels, and both were full. I changed my mind. I needed to be with my people. I found the Albergue and have moved in with pleasure. This one sets a new standard for bunk beds. I had a bottom bed this time (lucky for me) but my bed touches the one next to me. Rick from Arizona occupies that one.
At the Albergue, I have seen Judith, Toby, Joseph, Mateo, Steve, Mourges, Mossimo and his Mom. These random meetings are not random. The chances are just too extreme.
The bed was 5 euros. I splurged and spent an additional 9 to have them do my laundry. While typing this message, I am typing commando in my gym shorts and windbreaker. Can’t wait to try on my machine washed clothes!!
P.S. My walking stick is named Duran. Be worried. Very worried.