Camino 7: Leon, The Lost Day and The Detroit Rule


Only one snorer in my room of six last night. Me. Or so a scowly German woman told me over breakfast.
Well. ‘Good morning to you too’ I said.
Even at home I routinely go to bed wired to my Ipod. That along with some wine and beer has made snoring and other erm… noises in the albergues a non issue for me. Listen if you want to stay in albergues that’s the way it is. Stop complaining and get some earplugs. Or an Ipod.
I came across the scowly woman later on that same day and she sped away from me. Needlessly, as I had stopped snoring by then. No-one snores when they are awake and walking along. She should have known that.

I had a good day. I walked with Cynthia. We left the albergue together, before dawn. She had a funky headlight. Handy, I should get one. Cynthia, along with her father, owned a tractor factory in Latvia. I’m going to Riga one day and I now have the lowdown on the city, and an invitation to a tractor factory. So that’s nice… We parted company at Arcahueja where I took a beer break. My Canadian buddy Bob caught me up and we had a pleasant if uneventful walk to Leon.

Leon was planned as a rest day for me so I wanted a decent, but budget hotel. Bob had the same plan. I suggested the tourist information office. Years ago, pre internet, the tourist office booked a room for you, on the spot, within your budget and in your preferred area. But that was then and this is now, so all they did was furnish us with a list of hotels and a warning that many places were sold out due to the San Froilan, week long, celebrations. I rang three of the hotels. All sold out. I rang The Little Nurse back in England to see if she could find us beds online. Nothing in my budget. The town was busy.

Bob and I entered the think tank. He favoured an albergue. I didn’t want a curfew in the best town on the route so far, especially during a festival. I favoured walking to the next village 4km away, getting a room and a taxi back to town for the party. We split up. I came across a hotel and wandered in, just in case. Success! A room for two nights at €27pn. I dumped my stuff and had a shower in my PRIVATE bathroom. Luxury. I hit the town and almost immediately bumped into Bob again. He had checked into the Albergue but now decided to check out and take a room in the Don Suero with me.

That night we did a maxi pubcrawl. That’s like a mini pubcrawl but for greedy pigs. Great bars and great atmosphere. One of the plazas had been taken over by food sellers and the BBQ food looked great. I think the guy brought us more food than we actually ordered. There was a lot but we managed. There had been no price list and the bill was €120! Crazy. Unless that was Unicorn ribs we just ate, we were royally ripped off. Normally I would have had ‘the conversation’, but I let it go. Neither of us was strapped for cash but it would be a shame if that had happened to budget travellers. I have seen these BBQ sellers in other Spanish towns since. I like to watch the expressions of the punters when they get their bill.

Next day Bob was having a late breakfast when I wandered into town quite early. Through a supermarket window I spotted The Kid Reed. He looked a little worse for wear. I went in. The Kid Reed was a mess. White as a Bee Gee’s smile. Red eyes with tiny pupils. He was trying to get water on credit. I got the water and we went outside. He told me the tale.
He and Noah hit town yesterday afternoon. Got an AirBnB and went out partying. They got seperated and now he doesn’t remember the address. His stuff is there, pack, money, phone, the lot. His only clue is that the digs are opposite a supermarket with an undergound carpark. I listened.
‘Supermarket huh? Carpark you say? This is astonishing work detective’ my eyes are rolling. ‘You look like shit and you smell like Kazakhstan. You need breakfast and coffee. Let’s go.’ We went back to my hotel, got coffee and food. I phoned The Little Nurse at mission control and asked her to find an AirBnb in Leon for about €40. Using google maps I plotted eight nearby supermarkets on a paper map. The AirBnB links came through from mission control. We flicked through the pics. No match.

We went to supermarket no.1. We had this conversation which was to be repeated at the next seven supermarkets.
Me ‘Recognise anything’?
The Kid Reed ‘Yeah! This is it man! The apartment is right around the corner! Oh thank you so much!… No this isn’t it.’
Supermarket no. 8 and it’s now two hours since I found him and he’s sobering up fast. We discussed his condition.
‘Someone put something in my mouth last night.’ he said.
‘ What! Are you crazy! You let that happen. Would you let that happen in… Detroit.’
‘ No. no I wouldn’t’, he admitted.
‘ My case rests.’ I had just invented “The Detroit Rule”. If it’s a bad idea in Detroit then it’s a bad idea anywhere.

Detroit. Where the rule comes from


I cross examined him and made him mentally retrace his steps since his arrival in Leon. They had hit the AirBnB BEFORE the Cathedral. All of our searching had been AFTER the Cathedral. On G maps I found another 4 supermarkets pre Cathedral and this resulted in us replaying the earlier convo at each one. It’s now 3pm and although I’ve fed The Kid Reed twice I’ve forgotton to feed myself. I am now hungrier than the hungriest man in Hungryland on Hungry Day. I gave him some money and left him in a cafe near to where, he was convinced, the apartment was. I told him to meet me at the Cathedral at 7.00 as I was meeting Bob there, who was being reunited with his friend Nancy.
I was tired. I reckon I have walked about 20k. On my rest day. In plimsolls. In town I saw Moraid from the Ledigos albergue. She knew Noah. We swapped phone numbers and I asked her to get Noah to ring me if they saw each other. Finally I got beer and a sandwich. Noah turned up at my table. She was distraught about The Kid Reed. I calmed her down and established that the apartment had been vacated on time, and Reed’s stuff was in a nearby albergue. Cool.
‘Cathedral at seven,’ I told her. ‘Don’t be late and remember the Detroit Rule.’Leon

We all met up at seven. The kid Reed was reunited with Noah. Bob was reunited with Nancy, who had brought along another Peregrino, Tommy from Ireland, and I was reunited with a bottle of Rioja. Happy days. The youngsters were keen to get off and Reed thanked me profusely for ruining my day. Crazy kids.
‘Remember The Detroit Rule.’ I told him.

We went along to Restaurante Ezequiel, picked out by Nancy earlier. We met up with other pilgrims known to Nancy and Bob and we had a great evening. Huge steaks for Bob and I, about a third of the price of the previous nights BBQ rip off. Alison and Paul from New Zealand were great company. Alison was super friendly, and the nonchalant Paul was a cool dude who took everything in his stride. They would become walking companions on and off along the way. Nancy and Bob had met on the Camino the previous year and she had a special reason for walking again. Too personal for me to share here.

The wine flowed… Bob went back to the hotel. Not me. I had already forgotten “The Detroit Rule”

To be continued ….

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8 thoughts on “Camino 7: Leon, The Lost Day and The Detroit Rule

  1. Hi Ken! I hadn’t read all your blogs before. Gina just sent them to me. I remember that wee reed fellow. He got himself into a few pickles. His mum was pretty worried at times!


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