Not sleeping well, I starting moving about by 6:30 am. We left for the train station by 7:30 am and arrived before 8:00 am. Sam got to experience my neurotic rambling as I stressed. Almost as we walked in to the train station, someone walked up to ask if they could assist in fluent English. We pointed to the display, and said we were meeting friends on the 8:31 am train. She told us that train had been canceled, and that anyone on that train would be arriving by bus. The worst of my fears – my jacket now wandering the Camino. We called back to the albergue, but according to Vince the German ycouple had left for the train, and should be on the way. They had yet to discover their own disappointment. They did have my phone number, but they hadn’t called. What was happening?
I should have gone back on the train last night.
Sam headed over to the ALSA bus station nearby in case they showed up there. I went back to the person providing information in the train station to see if I could get more information. I was told the bus would be a special bus for the rail line, and would arrive directly at the train station at one of two different places, which would be known later. So, over to the bus station to get Sam. We moved back to the train station, watching for a bus to arrive. Attempting to get more information about the potential arrival location of the bus, someone told us the first person was wrong. The train had been cancelled because of a rail strike. They planned no bus. The follow-on trail at 2:45 pm might or might not be canceled.
Last night Sam and I had performed a detailed analysis of the transit schedules between the two cities. After some discussion betwixt Sam and I, we decided the German couple likely would take the standard bus to Leon. They had about an hour before the bus would leave, so we could try to catch them at the bus station. At that point (about 8:45 am) my phone rang – Vince from the hostel. Vince said he had considered sending my jacket along with a German cyclist planning on cycling to Leon, but that would be slower. However, the the German couple had returned the the alburgue, and booked a taxi to Leon along with another Spanish traveler. They would meet us at the train station in Leon in about a half hour. They would be traveling in a white Mercedes Ford taxi.
Sam noticed a white taxi pull in, with only the driver. A second white taxi pulled in soon thereafter.
Great, all the taxis are white.
We watched and waited. As the potential time approached, we moved outside into the biting wind.
I need a jacket.
At almost exactly 30 minutes a taxi pulled up in front of the trian station with only a driver, but holding my jacket. I rushed up, he handed it to me, wished me well, and sped off.
We, again, have the package.
Sam and I headed back to the hostel. From our detailed weather research, we planned to wait at the hostel until 11:00 am (checkout), only to then wait in the attic with our bicycles until after the rain between 12 noon and 1:00 pm before heading out.
As we prepared to leave, the woman at Reception asked for the room key, but indicated we could stay as long as we wanted. Sam suggested we play the board game again. After losing horribly (with everyone dying in a horrible fire), we packed up our bicycles, brought them (on at a time) back down the tiny elevator, and headed over to McDonalds to wait for the last of the rain.
While we had expected heavy rains in the morning, only a few light shower fell, and Sam was antsy to head out. As we waiting in McDonalds, a final light rain fell. We left per plan at 1:00 pm, intending to head west until about 4:00 pm, only to then look for a place to stop to avoid the later rain. Most of the day we stayed on the Camino trail, with the road nearby, ducking rain in and out of shelters. Invariably changing into rain gear only to have the rain stop.
The rattling of the trail caused Sam’s front pannier rack to disconnect. By some miracle all of the bolts and partts stayed with the rack, making the repair simple. We made the ride down into Hospital on a winding twisting track, with the two of us emulating mountain bikers, weaving in and out of dips in the trail, obstacles, thorn bushes, and the occasional perigrino.
Reaching Hospital, another storm approached. While we hadn’t gone far (only 36 km) and it wasn’t that late, I’d reached the limits of my weather risk tolerance. We’d managed to mostly avoid the rain all day. Hospital has a number of albergues, where each stage moving forward risked encountering a single full albergue requiring cycling 10 km farther forward. We passed an albergue that, looking through the gate, I could see a beautiful courtyard. With Sam clearly disappointed, I decided I’d had enough for the day.
After we settled in, Sam realized his jacket was missing, lost sometime after our last gear change! Sam’s not that worried about the jacket, more generic than my high-tech gear. As he pondered what to do, we made a long walk to a supermarket nearby. Sam decided he would ride back along out way to see if he could find his jacket (a pilgrimage I’m well familiar with). While waiting for his return, another cyclist came in, having cycled the distance Sam and I have cycled in the past two days. Sam eventually returned alone.
The past couple of days Sam’s been giving me a friendly hard time for my warm-blooded nature, but tonight grew cool enough to press even his Welsh limits. As we clustered around the short-ranged albergue Wi-Fi hotspot, I talked with the other cyclist. When we mentioned my jacket, he lit up with excitement. He was the German cyclist who they’d talked about sending to Lyon with my jacket! The Camino is a small world.
Tomorrow cold remains in the forecast, but with only a couple of showers. One of the other peligrinos gave us an elevation graph for each of the Camino Frances stages. The first 20 km tomorrow are flat, only to then gain over 700 meters of elevation before losing 1000 meters. We plan another short day of only 65 km, which can change wildly based on weather and terrain. We’ll see.