The Road to Santiago.

October 30, 2002

Roman walls.
Roman walls


The advertisement claimed that if pickup was before midnight, delivery would be before 10:00 a.m. the next morning. Since I called the hotel in Madrid before 6:00 p.m., I had every expectation that it would arrive by 10:00 a.m. Since it was to be a C.O.D., I couldn't leave the hotel. So, I worked in my room, writing notes, answering email, and writing postcards.

Ten o'clock came — no package. Eleven o'clock came and went — no package! Twelve o'clock — still no package! So, I called Madrid only to find out that they hadn't even picked up the package yet. It would come mañana (tomorrow). I didn't know who was responsible for the mix-up, the hotel or the delivery company. My Spanish is not good enough to investigate.
I didn't want to waste the entire day so I decided to go to the cathedral before it closed at 1:30. Opposite the cathedral was the office of tourism. They gave me a plano (map) of the city which was similar to the one on the information board. I learned my lesson, go to the tourist office first!

In front of the cathedral I ran into Cormack. He said that he was probably going to quit el camino since it "didn't give him the discipline he thought it would." I told him to take some time to get to know and enjoy Spain. When he was ready for el camino, he would know it. It might be some years before he would want to do it. In the meantime he was young and should travel Spain for just for the fun of it. I have a feeling that with his smile and leprechaun twinkle in his eyes, he would do very well. I wished him luck and we went our separate ways.

I saw José as he headed into the cathedral. He pointed to his feet and gave me the okay sign. He then gave me the Spanish sign for a drink, indicating that we should have a drink together later. I gave the sign back and nodded my head in the affirmative. I followed the crowd into the cathedral.

Cathedral detail.
Cathedral detail
The cathedral of León is believed to be the most incredible cathedral in Spain, and I imagine, probably all of Europe, primarily because of the number of stained glass windows and total amount of glass. There are 800 square meters (a meter is approximately a yard) of windows. The effect is awe inspiring. I could just imagine what an illiterate mediaeval pilgrim must have thought when seeing the sight after months of traversing Europe through wild and unknown country. This alone makes the trip worth the effort. I would have to come back when I had more time. I only wished that tomorrow the sun would shine and I could come back and see it in the sunshine.

I took out my map and headed for the albergue to get my credencial stamped. Along the way I came across all the hotels I couldn't find the day before. This re-enforced the lesson I learned of heading for the tourist bureau first!

But even with a map, I got lost. León is an ancient Roman city with tiny meandering streets that twist and turn every which way. I was able to find the Roman walls; who could miss something so big? But I lost track of la avenda (the avenue) on which my hotel was located.

[Editor's Note:  León is a thriving metropolis of about 130,000 located on the banks of the Bernesga. It is surrounded on all sides by the Meseta, a large flat plateau. Iron and coal industries and livestock farming are the primary businesses. The ancient city has many masterpieces in three different styles of architecture:  Romanesque, Gothic, and Renaissance.]

Soon I began to feel lightheaded. I was perspiring even though it was cool out. I knew what that meant — I was starting to go hypo. I went into the first place where I could get some food. It was a pasteleria (pastry shop) so I bought a chocolate Danish pastry. Normally, such a extravagant carbohydrate would shoot my glucose level sky high, but when I tested my blood two hours later, the reading was only 111, just above my target level. This gave me a hint of how low I must have gone.

Since I was getting low on my Lantus insulin which is for my baseline metabolism, I went to bed hoping that the shipment would arrive in the morning.
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