The Road to Santiago.
Journal.

October 24, 2002
Thursday

Monistario Santa Clara.
Monasterio Santa Clara

Fromista to Carrion de los Condes

The day started out nice, but quickly changed to a light rain. Just on the outskirts of Fromista, I found the section of the camino that I had been on six years ago — when I first became interested in walking to Santiago.

After about two hours of walking in the rain, I came across a hand-painted sign that said "Bar" with an arrow pointing toward the highway which ran parallel to the camino. It was across the river some distance from the path, but the rain was all the excuse I needed to deviate in search of a warm cup of joe and a little descanso (rest). I crossed over the river to a small collection of houses in search of the bar. I went to the logical choice, only to find that I had opened the door to a private kitchen. The lady of the house took it in stride and pointed across the street.

The bar was more like an oversized lemonade stand with a tin roof — in front were a couple of picnic tables. The bartender was an English woman who had been on the camino and decided to take a rest. I asked her how long she had been working there and she said: "3 months." Now, that's some rest!

Rather than cross back to the path though the woods, I decided to take the direct path along the highway. There was not a lot of traffic but there was a lot of rain and wind. I ran out of songs to sing and deep from my youth came up 99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall. I was only able to get to 75 — couldn't remember how the rest of it went.

I finally got to Carrion de los Condes at 1:30 p.m. The albergue is in a convent, El Monasterio de Santa Clara. It consists of a series of semiprivate rooms, a couple sets of bathrooms, and a small kitchen. It's a little more expensive then the average albergue (7 euros compared to 3 or 4), but it was worth it to get clean sheets, a pillowcase, and towel.
 

The professions.
The professions
I went to view the Church of Santiago. It has an excellent Romanesque arch which depicts 36 vocations or professions that were considered the range of earthly knowledge. I fell in with a group of school kids and listened to the lecture of the teacher. The kids were bored but I learned a lot. They didn't care about the various occupations of the Middle Ages. After all, the only profession they understood was being a rock star or football player. (That's soccer to you, North American folks!) He got their attention by pointing out some risqué sculpture in one of the capitals of the columns supporting the central arch.
Another 12th Century church, Santa Maria del Camino, had a fine Romanesque façade and also had a notable piece of art inside. It was a polychrome wooden sculpture of Christ on a "Y" shaped cross.
 
Y cross
On the way back to the convent, I saw a French couple at a bus kiosk reading the schedules. The wife said that she was through — that she had "lost her heart" for the camino. I thought to myself that if a little weather could get her down, she probably wouldn't like the mountains of Galicia coming up. I think many people start off on a lark and don't think through what a commitment of time and effort the camino really is. These people have come a long way. They started in France. I would think they would have had too much personal investment in the trip to stop at the halfway point.

The convent had a museum with items that dated back to the 14th Century. It was very interesting to see tools that the nuns used in their daily life, and some of the items that they created as a part of their spiritual lives. While I was wandering around the museum, a door opened up and a nun started to come out. She saw me and quickly backed up and shut the door. I was surprised, not realizing that there were still nuns at the convent. I asked the hospitalero and he told me that there were still nine monjas (nuns) living an active life there. He said that most were very old and he did not know what will happen to the convent when they are gone.

After dinner, I returned to my room, determined to work. I decided to download the photos from my camera to my computer. I pulled out the fiche reader and hooked it up to the computer. But horror of horrors, it didn't work. I didn't understand what could have gone wrong except perhaps it was damaged as the result of the excessive dampness of the past two days. Desperate, I called home base and asked my partner to go buy another reader and send it via FedEx to my hotel in Madrid. As soon as I reached Leon, I will go to a hotel and have it shipped overnight from Madrid.
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