Chided

Camino Day 20, Domingo 27th Setiembre. 466 klms. León, León, Castile y León, España

I was chided today for taking a photograph. Mind you, I’ve been stopped by armed soldiers in the past and made to delete a photo, so this was modest. More later.

The Camino has over the last few days become decidedly social. Last night’s dinner gathering included 2 Aussies, 2 Kiwis, 3 Yanks, 4 Canadians and 2 Poms. It has been similar for a few nights now. That, combined with the fact that today was a dead easy sub-20 klm walk, saw us leave Mansilla after 9 am.

My leg was feeling good, and there was no pressure to hurry. We searched around for a place to have desayuno, which was OK, and then headed off. The 6 klms into Puente Villarente were uneventful. The entrance to Puente Villarente over Rio Porma is quite pretty. The bridge spans what must have been a very wide river at one stage, although today the river only runs under a couple of its arches. A couple of friendly Americans took a picture of us on the footbridge over the river, after which we had 2nd breakfast in the town.

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Our next stop was just outside León. We’d been walking for overt an hour, and it was hot, and I’d learned (hopefully) a lesson from the day before. So as we approached the top of Alto de Portillo, a hill which overlooks León and which contains TV towers and the like, just of to the left was the town of Valdelafuente. I think Valdelafuente would best be described as an outer suburb of León. Just of the track was a little church and a shaded area, so we stopped for a bit. Mass was being held in the church – we sort of peeked in through the door – a congregation of older señoras mostly.

A couple of photos follow. The second is of the public fountains (fuentes) which are everywhere along the way. Fresh potable water almost always readily available. These fountains are a life saver (almost literally), and I find it marvellous that everyone can just walk up and fill their water bottles without any public health concerns.
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I said at the start that I’d been chided. I’m in two minds about this. After I took the photo below the man came up to me and said, in pretty good English “In Spain it is best to ask before taking a photo” and then something like “in your country you wouldn’t like it … [and he made a sort of ‘camera in face’ motion]”. Suitably admonished, and I did feel admonished, I walked on.

So here’s why I’m in two minds … firstly, he is of course quite correct, and it’s something that I usually (not anyways) do. Secondly, practically there wasn’t time. Thirdly, others nearby did the same. Fourthly, I’d have to think that if anyone walks along a “tourist” path, against the flow of traffic, where most people have a camera, on a mule, you’d have to be inviting people to photograph you. Lastly, Janet had been walking maybe 50 metres ahead of me, and was ignored when she said hola to them (not that I knew that at the time). Are all these last points simply various bits of justification? Yes, probably. Not quite sure yet what the lesson was in all this.

So, rightly or wrongly, here are my “chided people”.
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I’ll finish with a few shots of León, where we are having a rest day tomorrow. It’s full of big city (~130,000 people) buzz, so different to the villages and small towns.
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Lovely city this … more tomorrow.

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