I slept OK, considering. All our roomies were men and the dawn chorus of escaping gas was interesting. Lou’s ear is painful after our water fight and there was some blood in it so we’ll find a hospital in Leon today.
I’m writing this bit in hospital! It’s a very nice hospital and the nurses are as helpful as they can be with my little Spanish-English dictionary. We got on the road early, there’s really little choice once the walkers start rustling their plastic bags from 4am onwards. We were in Leon by 10am – lovely Cathedral. Lou saw the ‘bike boys’ from Puenta del Rey, who seemed bemused that we got there first. They were pointing at our bikes in a confused manner, but waved happily when they saw us. I think they’re convinced we ride through the night.
We wandered around aimlessly in search of a taxi. We eventually got a cab by flagging down one that was already occupied and getting him to radio a friend. He took us straight to ‘Urgencias’ which is a handy Spanish word that means Emergency Room. Pathetic efforts to get admitted followed, with Lou pointing at her ear, looking sad and waving her E111 form at anyone would look at it. I think there are four people ahead of us but I don’t suppose it’s sequential. Nobody looks horribly ill, although we were overtaken by a lady on a stretcher from the ambulance.
It would be quite nice if they could patch up my finger, which hurts, and take a look at my ring fingers, which have developed a strange circulation issue, my knees which are creaking and the nasty saddle rash on my bum, oh, and my lips which are burned and really sore today.
I’ll be glad to move on from the high plains – I’m even missing hills. My map bag has gone all melty in the sun and my thermometer is bust – it couldn’t take temperatures above 120°F/50°C and the red mercury replacement stuff has all broken up.
The hospital trip wasn’t too bad – for me. Lou got poked around and there seemed to be some confusion as to how she got ill. I said “Feunte”, the doctor said “Feunte? No!”, I insisted “Si, feunte, si!”, mimed sticking my head under a fountain and showed her the word in my dictionary. A light bulb moment – she said “Camino de Santiago” and laughed. She went to get another doctor who once again he wanted to talk to me in German. I’m getting paranoid, I think it’s a combination of my height – this area is full of tiny people – and my thighs, which are becoming decidedly East German. I stole some Mefix from the hospital. It worked a treat on my knuckle, which kept bleeding and the Band Aids kept coming off.
The doctors seemed concerned about Lou’s ears over the mountains, but they are not infected, they’re inflamed. We struggled to get a cab because although I tried to call one I really couldn’t make myself understood. Eventually I used my phrase book to ask a porter to help me to call one, he went to the front desk and sorted it out for us.
We got a prescription which we managed to fill in a curious old pharmacy where a chap with unfeasibly long eyelashes was waiting in the queue. I like to think he was waiting for his eyelash cream. We had a coffee and no sandwich at a fancy café by the Cathedral. They had no cheese apparently, but Lou had a ham and cheese sandwich. From there we went to Gaudis strange castle here and had a quick look around, then on to lunch where a deeply unhelpful waiter is refusing to give me tomatoes. I’m grumpy now. I’m sure the Cathedral will cheer me up.
We saw a monk in his full brown habit with rope belt, but with a modern colourful backpack. It was strangely disturbing. The Cathedral was good with acres of stained glass everywhere but it was a bit dark. There was a mass going on so we couldn’t investigate fully.
I scoffed some of the teeny cakes which Leon claims to be famous for, they were very good. We picked up some postcards from another unhelpful shopkeeper. We’re way behind as the last couple of towns have been too small to stock postcards. I have a new theory that the closer a person works to a building of great beauty the more unhelpful and surly they become. That certainly applies here, and I know it applies in London and Paris.
Once it cooled off we decided to ride out of Leon and just see how far we got, based on how well Lou’s ears held out. It was a beautiful ride out alongside the river and past an old monastery, but also past the first McDonalds I’ve seen! It was nice to encounter hills on the way out. We got about 10-15km out and Lou was tiring as the tablets were making her feel strange so we stopped at a great looking hotel only to be instructed by the intercom to go down to the hostal fifty yards on. I thought they may have seen the stink lines coming off us and didn’t want to let us in, but it was the same company and the fancy hotel wasn’t open yet.
The chap at the bar was very pleased with himself that he’d talked to us on the intercom and after a couple of pops to cool off we took to the room. Compact and bijou! Dinner was fabulous – paella and grilled squid (chipirones a la plancha), Lou had salad and salmon. A bottle of the best rioja rosada in history helped it down they brought us coffee-esque liqueurs in frozen glasses for pudding – divine!
I slept like a very sleepy person. Morning still came as a surprise though. It was already over 30°C before 8am.