Many alburgues will only allow you to spend one night in their facility and by 8AM they expect you to be back on the trail. By 8AM Sue and an ill German pilgrim had managed to hike no further than the adjacent cafe before they both decided to take a taxi to the next town, Sahagun. There they each could get a room with a private bath, a necessity more than luxury considering the circumstances. I went on to Sahagun with Sue to offer medical support but I was actually most helpful when it came to pantomiming her symptoms for the Spanish speaking pharmacist.
After two days in Sahagun Sue was stable but very weak. I did some number crunching and it became evident that my visa could run out just shy of reaching the Cathedral in Santiago which would be most unfortunate. The best solution was to take the train to Leon, let Sue rest a couple more days, then take another train to Ponferrada at which time Sue should be ready to start hiking again.
Leon was a beautiful, uplifting city with many tasty, gentle food options for a recovering GI tract. We tested Sue’s strength by making visits to the Cathedral, Sunday market and walks through the old town area. After two days in Leon we boarded another train, said goodbye to the Meseta and headed toward the green, hilly western half of the Camino. We slept only a few meters from the Castle in Ponferrada; 210 kilometers (130 miles) from the Cathedral in Santiago. The next morning we both hiked out of the medieval city just before dawn, feeling strong and excited about seeing this very beautiful and different region of Spain. Plus we should make it to Santiago and the pilgrim’s mass before immigration starts looking for me.