As people who have rarely lived in cities our entire adult lives, it should come as no surprise that we feel more comfortable outside the city limits. Not sure why this should be. Now that we understand our family heritage over the last several centuries, it should be obvious. Most generations over the last five hundred years have lived outside cities with the possible exception of the Gresham’s in England whose presence in London was necessary. Their financial bent led to the McKinney banking expertise. Everyone else seems to have been comfortable as tradesmen, farmers and ranchers mostly in small towns like Laguna Beach.
This is the background for our relief today as we left the mid-sized city of Leon this morning. We enjoyed ourselves during the visit. I need to post pictures from yesterday as we cruised around our posh diggs, the Parador San Marcos. Paradors are historic buildings that have been turned into luxury hotels to preserve them without public expense. Very similar to what is happening in the Golden Gate National Park with its Presidio properties. This Parador Leon was actually built for pilgrims as the ultimate hospice. At breakfast we discovered that we were not the only ones taking advantage of Peregrino pricing.
The last pictures include the local Pétanque and Bocci courts next to the hotel by the river. Not sure if the Big Hill Pétanque court will ever look the same.
After a huge buffet breakfast with eggs, we headed out and crossed that bridge with the hordes of walking commuters heading to work from the apartment flats that encompass the city. We walked at least 6 Kms through suburbs and manufacturing areas before reaching a gravel path and leaving traffic. Some of our guidebook authors are vexed by this modernity. I am not. The Spanish are entitled to endure the modern world. They do not need to preserve the medieval way of life for us middle class pilgrims to enjoy. They actually are aggressive about maintaining their heritage much more than most American cities and governments. I just know that walking on sidewalks and through endless crosswalks is something that is limited and finite.
Spanish cars and trucks are on the roads where they belong. These are modern machines and they do the work required of them. This brings me back to bicycles. It still bugs me that they like to use dirt pathways designed for foot traffic. They are machine, albeit human powered, and belong on roads. While most bike riders view their position on the Camino as one of equality, some do not. They view their position as modern day knights on horseback. As such, peasant walkers should give them leave and move off the trail when they approach. I guess my largely peasant background instinctively rebels at this notion. How is that for a rationalization?
Once we reached the countryside it was very pleasant walking. Scattered clouds, moderate temperature and a light wind combined for a nice hike. While the terrain was still mostly flat, we were climbing slightly. The wheat fields became more sparse and actually almost wild. Much of the land was not cultivated or grazed. Plenty of that Spanish Lavender was in bloom. Peggy frequently disappeared while taking pictures. Managed to find a Limon vender on the side of the trail and ate a banana.
Reached our destination some 20 Kms from the Parador by 1 after leaving at 8:30. The Village of Mazerife contains three Albergues, one bar and a collection of homes for the farmers. Perfect for us. I arranged for laundry so all we had to do was put our stuff in a bag and hand it to the lady. Picked it up a while ago and it is nice to have clean stuff again. Took naps after visiting the bar for lunch. Have to confess that I pigged out on chicken wings. Peggy did the Jamon and Cheese Bocadillo. Peggy got a picture of three baby storks sticking their heads up. We now know why they have long legs. After three months in that nest it must be quite a mess.
Like you, I love to visit cities but I’m a country girl at heart. (: Feel the same way about bike traffic on the Buzzard Bay Canal trailway….and they actually belong there.
Our record breaking heat has passed on and Delta air is here. If you are getting tired of the cities, come on back to beautiful Columbia any time now. All is going OK. but Goldie misses you!
Your Parador accommodations look like the Alhambra! Very sumptuous. I expect you to start boxwood hedges around the petanque court, immediately upon your return.