Day 13 was an experiment in choosing the path less traveled. Midway through the day you had two choices--go along the highway, which I believe was a little shorter, or go through the woods alongside the river. Surprisingly most everyone chose the highway so I had the river path almost all to myself.
The day was rainy, but started out following the surprisingly beautiful Canal de Castilla.
I was surprised when we got to a set of locks. It was no Panama Canal, but it was fun.
I remember that right after this sign we entered a small town which had a) an ATM, b) a cafe, and c) (the most important) a pharmacy--with everything a pilgrim could ask for (otherwise known as bandaids in every shape and size!)
Arrows also came in every shape and size
A little while after the paths split I came across this man named Pepe (who is apparently a Camino legend...something I didnt know about until later). He had a basket of candy and offered me a piece. I was a little skeptical of random old men with candy but a Spanish father came by with his two kids and he let them take a piece, so I figured it was ok. I leaned on my walking stick as he told me stories and nuggets of wisdom. (It also was a stark reminder that even if you stop for 2 minutes your blisters will ACHE when you start again.)
He had a pilgrim stamp, but I was too lazy to take off my pack, remove the rain cover and dig out my credentials. He wouldn't let me pass, so I agreed that he could stamp my hand. He said it would protect me. After the near death by lightening experience the day before I figured it couldn't hurt.
And what do you know? The clouds started looking menacing again.
I was thankful that there were at least taller things than me on the horizon this time. Either way, I was trying to walk as fast as possible to avoid the coming storm.
Unfortunately after this point the signage got a bit tricky. I missed a somewhat hidden arrow and had to follow a small road for what seemed forever. It wasn't bad, but with the storm at my back I wasn't exactly up for walking extra kilometers.
I finally made it to the town where my path merged back with the highway path.
The rest of the way to Carrion turned out to be interesting...
Because right after I took this picture I started getting pelted in the head with hail. Yes, hail. I was soooaked to the bone. I thought about running, but then you look up and realize, where are you gonna run?
I was not amused.
But finally I made it to Carrion de los Condes! The long day on the trail--filled with storms and hail--would all be soothed away when I got to my albergue filled up with tiny Benedictine nuns bustling around like hospitality fairies. Yeah. In the end there was only a random twenty-something year old guy. Decidedly not a nun.
Eh. Anyway, they had a nice cathedral and the pilgrim mass was a nice experience. The picture above is of a famous facade in town. I ended up having a nice conversation with the non-nun hospitalero, got to know a group of young Irish teachers, shared a dinner of pina y curry salad with my Parisian friend, and ran back into my two South Korean friends whom I hadn't seen since Burgos. So all in all, I'll call it a win.