El Camino Frances

The Traditional Route from France

Eastern Meseta

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Carrión de los Condes to Sahagún

29 May 1993 and 15/16 June 2002

This stage starts with one of the most boring stretches of the Camino but it also involves passing the halfway point between St Jean and Santiago. Judith had already walked 500 miles from Le Puy before reaching St Jean so she was not too impressed.

Between Carrión and Calzadilla there is 17km of straight level farm tracks. There were no villages, bars or fuentes and the only features were a few distant trees which seemed to take forever to approach. After Calzadilla the countryside is a little more interesting consisting of rolling hills and scrub.

meseta

1993. After the short stage into Carrión we felt fit enough to attempt the 36km to Sahagún. Coffee and cakes were taken after the long plod to Calzadilla then we walked on to Terradillos de Templarios for a lazy lunch. The refugio/restaurant here was easily located by the large red Templar’s cross on the side and Guillermo was able to provide us with a good cheap meal.

The weather turned bad when we left the restaurant and we were in full waterproofs before we reached Sahagún. The refugio was a temporary affair in an old building and, since we arrived late, I was one of the unlucky ones who had to sleep on the floor. The other pilgrims pooled together their camping mats and someone found a reel of package tape so we could use the mats three deep.

The rain continued into the evening and curtailed any sightseeing and our sleep was disturbed by the warden of the refugio playing his television late into the night. He seemed to be a council employee and not one of the dedicated volunteers who staff most of the refugios.

Sahgún, Arco de San Benito

The name Sahagún is a corruption of San Facundo who founded a monastery here in 904 to provide a refuge for monks escaping the muslim domination of Cordoba. This monastery came under the influence of the monks from Cluny in 1080 and was greatly expanded to control about 90 other establishments. Nothing now remains of the great monastery except for a few pieces in museums.

Bernardino de Sahagún was a Franciscan missionary who followed the conquistadores to Mexico about 1529. He compiled the twelve volume Historia General de las Cosas de Nueva España,(General History of the things of New Spain) which covered in detail the history, religion and culture of the Aztec people. Arriving so soon after the discovery of the New World he was able to interview tribal elders with living memory of conditions before the Spanish conquest.

2002. There was only myself and Judith left of our original gang but we soon gathered others over the next few days. The heat wave was due to continue so we set off just after 6am to pick our way through the pebbles of the farm tracks to Calzadilla. Arriving there the bar was already full of pilgrims having breakfast and some of them had already decided the day was becoming too hot and were booking rooms in the hotel.

Terradillos

Lédigos was reached at noon and there was a queue waiting to get into the refugio. We pressed on through the heat but had to give up at Terradillos where we booked into the refugio. We were told that Guillermo had died a few years ago and the refugio was now greatly expanded. A small shop in the courtyard also served the village and the dining room had expanded into a restaurant.

After showering off the dust we settled down to a lazy afternoon, watching football over lunch then finding a shady spot in the garden.

We packed our rucksacks ready for an early start and were walking in the dark before 6am. The sun was hot by 8am and we had to stop for breakfast in Sahagún at 9am. Several pilgrims were on a guided tour and had stayed overnight in the hotel. They looked very fresh and clean compared to us who had already walked for three hours.

The previous day had been a fiesta with bull running and the streets were full of drunks who had spent the night sleeping on the pavements.