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Let’s hear your Ender stories!!

LavanyaLea

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Frances (May/June 2022)
Note from the mod: I thought I would pull this out for a separate thread, hopefully giving lots of forum members the chance to chime in with their own Ender stories.

@peregrina2000 I’ve been meaning to ask many times before, who is this wonderful Ender? He seems to be very heavily invested in Camino San Salvador. Is he a local guy who wants to promote this off the beaten path route, and he’s doing all this hard work voluntarily?
 
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peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
@peregrina2000 I’ve been meaning to ask many times before, who is this wonderful Ender? He seems to be very heavily invested in Camino San Salvador. Is he a local guy who wants to promote this off the beaten path route, and he’s doing all this hard work voluntarily?
Ender is the person who single-handedly (though he doesn’t like to say this) brought the Salvador to life. My very first mention of him, according to the forum’s search function, was in 2011. Post is here.

Thanks so much for asking, because I’ve been going back and re-reading old posts, particularly this one about when I first met Ender in 2012! That means we are celebrating 10 years of friendship.

Ender lives in a small town very near La Robla and got early retirement as a coal mining engineer in the 2000s. Having all that time was what led him to research and mark the Salvador. He started with metal arrows and conch signs, some of which are still standing. All made in his garage, with his money, just for the love of what he calls “mis montañas.” Since then he has written the guidebook (with at least two newer versions, most recently in 2022), built a bridge outside Poladura so you don’t have to step into the soggy bog, and just recently did a substantial amount of work to make the off-road route into Ujo much safer and better marked. He and his little band have built a staircase, which I shared pictures of. In short, he works tirelessly to promote the Salvador. He goes frequently to the albergues in La Robla (unfortunately still closed for covid) and Poladura to see pilgrims. His facebook pages are constantly updated, and he is always available to answer questions about conditions, lodging, etc etc.

I will point out that on about page 74 of Ender’s 2022 Salvador guide, there is a link for a donation, which he was reluctant to put up. But he has been spending a lot of his own money, and several forum members assured him that the donation was a very appropriate thing to ask for. You can be sure that every céntimo goes back into the camino.

His most recent undertaking has been to do to the Camino Olvidado what he has done for the Salvador. He has made a tremendous amount of progress, organized a lot of mayors into an association, and received some grants. There is now a fancy website, with a guide, and he has also written his own guide, both of which are linked to in this post.

This is a man who brings a magical combination of love of the camino with endless energy and goodwill.

So that’s a very long answer to your question, @LavanyaLea! I really do feel like when I met him I won the lottery, because he has become a close friend.
 

LavanyaLea

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Frances (May/June 2022)
What a lovely story. I’m surprised one has to fight for funding from the local councils to set up/maintain/improve the routes. And what about the church? Considering they do give out the Salvadorana at the cathedral in Oviedo… shouldn’t they at least have some funds set aside for it?

On the other hand though, selfish me thinks it’s better the route stays as the one less travelled by and not get too crowded 🤣
 
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QuailHiker

Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances (2016)
Camino del Norte y Primitivo (2018)
Note from the mod: I thought I would pull this out for a separate thread, hopefully giving lots of forum members the chance to chime in with their own Ender stories.

@peregrina2000 I’ve been meaning to ask many times before, who is this wonderful Ender? He seems to be very heavily invested in Camino San Salvador. Is he a local guy who wants to promote this off the beaten path route, and he’s doing all this hard work voluntarily?
What a lovely story. I’m surprised one has to fight for funding from the local councils to set up/maintain/improve the routes. And what about the church? Considering they do give out the Salvadorana at the cathedral in Oviedo… shouldn’t they at least have some funds set aside for it?

On the other hand though, selfish me thinks it’s better the route stays as the one less travelled by and not get too crowded 🤣
I had the great fortune to meet Ender a week ago Saturday in Cinera on the Olvidado. I walked into town looking for a bar for refreshments and found a small fiesta going on. As I walked into the square (obviously looking very much like a pilgrim) Ender walked up to me and introduced himself. He took me to a bar, showed me a great off-road track to La Pola de Gordon, and then gave me a ride to Pola when he drove by as it was raining!
 

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LTfit

Veteran Member
What a lovely story Laurie. I knew some of it but not that he made those metal signs himself! I must say that I thanked him many times whilst walking the Salvador last June. I was alone and so was extra alert in the mountains not to loose my way. Those metal signs on poles were visible from a distance which really helped as there was plant growth covering the painted arrows on the ground and no path to follow due to disuse.

I'm sorry that I couldn't meet him but he had family visiting from the US when I was walking. Maybe when I walk the Olvidado.
 
Time of past OR future Camino
Sept. 2022 El Salvador, Oct. 2022 Tui Portugués
Ender is the person who single-handedly (though he doesn’t like to say this) brought the Salvador to life. My very first mention of him, according to the forum’s search function, was in 2011. Post is here.

Thanks so much for asking, because I’ve been going back and re-reading old posts, particularly this one about when I first met Ender in 2012! That means we are celebrating 10 years of friendship.

Ender lives in a small town very near La Robla and got early retirement as a coal mining engineer in the 2000s. Having all that time was what led him to research and mark the Salvador. He started with metal arrows and conch signs, some of which are still standing. All made in his garage, with his money, just for the love of what he calls “mis montañas.” Since then he has written the guidebook (with at least two newer versions, most recently in 2022), built a bridge outside Poladura so you don’t have to step into the soggy bog, and just recently did a substantial amount of work to make the off-road route into Ujo much safer and better marked. He and his little band have built a staircase, which I shared pictures of. In short, he works tirelessly to promote the Salvador. He goes frequently to the albergues in La Robla (unfortunately still closed for covid) and Poladura to see pilgrims. His facebook pages are constantly updated, and he is always available to answer questions about conditions, lodging, etc etc.

I will point out that on about page 74 of Ender’s 2022 Salvador guide, there is a link for a donation, which he was reluctant to put up. But he has been spending a lot of his own money, and several forum members assured him that the donation was a very appropriate thing to ask for. You can be sure that every céntimo goes back into the camino.

His most recent undertaking has been to do to the Camino Olvidado what he has done for the Salvador. He has made a tremendous amount of progress, organized a lot of mayors into an association, and received some grants. There is now a fancy website, with a guide, and he has also written his own guide, both of which are linked to in this post.

This is a man who brings a magical combination of love of the camino with endless energy and goodwill.

So that’s a very long answer to your question, @LavanyaLea! I really do feel like when I met him I won the lottery, because he has become a close friend.
How lovely to have this background information on El Salvador y su Resurrección y mantenimiento por Ender & Co. Folks should know you are very much a part of this team, go ahead Laurie, tell us about the English translation.
Magnificent link to your prior post that traces all these efforts that become so real for us. A hearty thanks! I join you in encouraging contributions so that we may contribute help continue these private massive efforts for the Salvador & Olvidado.
Hope to be able to join you Salvador guys in my hoped for November Camino. Gracias!
 

BobY333

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino San Salvador/Primitivo May 2022 (planning!)
Well, Ender is a special person indeed. And so is Laurie Reynolds! I just walked the San Salvador and had the opportunity to meet Ender in Poladura de Tercia (because said Laurie set it up!). He is a man full of knowledge and graciousness. And, he has me thinking about the Olvidado for my next Camino! Back to Ender and Laurie for being amazing resources for the rest of us!!!
 
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Canche

Volcano Climber
Time of past OR future Camino
Norte/Frances 2016, San Salvador & Primitivo 2021
Ender is the person who single-handedly (though he doesn’t like to say this) brought the Salvador to life. My very first mention of him, according to the forum’s search function, was in 2011. Post is here.

Thanks so much for asking, because I’ve been going back and re-reading old posts, particularly this one about when I first met Ender in 2012! That means we are celebrating 10 years of friendship.

Ender lives in a small town very near La Robla and got early retirement as a coal mining engineer in the 2000s. Having all that time was what led him to research and mark the Salvador. He started with metal arrows and conch signs, some of which are still standing. All made in his garage, with his money, just for the love of what he calls “mis montañas.” Since then he has written the guidebook (with at least two newer versions, most recently in 2022), built a bridge outside Poladura so you don’t have to step into the soggy bog, and just recently did a substantial amount of work to make the off-road route into Ujo much safer and better marked. He and his little band have built a staircase, which I shared pictures of. In short, he works tirelessly to promote the Salvador. He goes frequently to the albergues in La Robla (unfortunately still closed for covid) and Poladura to see pilgrims. His facebook pages are constantly updated, and he is always available to answer questions about conditions, lodging, etc etc.

I will point out that on about page 74 of Ender’s 2022 Salvador guide, there is a link for a donation, which he was reluctant to put up. But he has been spending a lot of his own money, and several forum members assured him that the donation was a very appropriate thing to ask for. You can be sure that every céntimo goes back into the camino.

His most recent undertaking has been to do to the Camino Olvidado what he has done for the Salvador. He has made a tremendous amount of progress, organized a lot of mayors into an association, and received some grants. There is now a fancy website, with a guide, and he has also written his own guide, both of which are linked to in this post.

This is a man who brings a magical combination of love of the camino with endless energy and goodwill.

So that’s a very long answer to your question, @LavanyaLea! I really do feel like when I met him I won the lottery, because he has become a close friend.
He is a wonderful person, and I had the privelege of meeting him while doing the San Salvador last September in Poladura at Albergue El Embrujo which is wonderful by the way. He is very special.
 
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I've never walked the Salvador or Olvidado, but they are tied at the top of my list. It's all Ender's fault.

Seriously, though - what a gem of a human being. Mil gracias, Ender, from all of us. You are bringing joy to many, and that's no small thing in this world right now. May many more of us have the goid fortune to walk these caminos!
 
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Former member 99290

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When we walked the Salvador in 2018, we stayed in the Casa Rural in Poladura - and met Ender entirely by chance. As we were using his guidebook at the time, I felt a little star struck! He has done so much to help so many.
 

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BobY333

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino San Salvador/Primitivo May 2022 (planning!)
One thing I forgot to note was that he built and installed the Salvador cross, which sits at the top of a very long climb after Poladura and is the perfect place to sit and enjoy spectacular views.

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I was wondering about this very thing! What a sight - it starts as a “target” in the distance, then is an amazing resting and reflecting spot, and finally becomes an everlasting memory and symbol of the San Salvador. Bravo Ender!
 

LavanyaLea

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Frances (May/June 2022)
Currently planning Salvador at the end of September/first week of October! But I think that’s part of the Camino fever 😝 so current aim is to hike as many peaks in the British aisles and reassess come August, hopefully would still go!
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
I was recently walking the Camino Torres from Salamanca, and I met a guy on a bike who stopped because he recognized that I was a Peregrina. Turns out he had walked the Salvador earlier this year, and he told me how Ender had been a lifesaver. There was a big snowstorm in April, and if you can believe this, Ender went out on the Camino early in the morning to tamp down the path so that they would not get lost.

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LavanyaLea

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Frances (May/June 2022)
We are on the Salvador now! Do you know where Ender usually hangs out/any chance to meet and show our appreciation?
 
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Sept. 2022 El Salvador, Oct. 2022 Tui Portugués
Just now in La Robla. Ender came by to say Hi to the Peregrinos. Today the Salvador is like Sarria to Santiago. A scattering of 12-15 Peregrinos. Still no bed race here. So great to spend time with Ender today!
 

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LavanyaLea

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Frances (May/June 2022)
Argh!!!! We were at that place (Pension Mundo) the day before! (Sunday) the whole town was so dead on Sunday. Well jelly!!!
 

Canche

Volcano Climber
Time of past OR future Camino
Norte/Frances 2016, San Salvador & Primitivo 2021
Just now in La Robla. Ender came by to say Hi to the Peregrinos. Today the Salvador is like Sarria to Santiago. A scattering of 12-15 Peregrinos. Still no bed race here. So great to spend time with Ender today!
I was also able to meet Ender when I did the San Salvador last year. Great to meet him
 
Time of past OR future Camino
CF 2021; CSS/CP 2022
Jumping on the Ender fan-wagon here...I walked Camino Salvador last month (Oct 5-11) and met José Antonio twice. As I was putting my pack on the floor of the restaurant at Pension Rabocan, I heard a soft voice ask "Ana?" I spun around and there he was! (I'm sure @peregrina2000 aka Laurie set this up.) I blushed and stammered out an "encantada!" He invited me to sit and talk a bit. Two hours of chatter later, concerned I might not have packed enough food for the next couple days (it seemed places would be closed, no stores, etc) he insisted on driving me to a grocery store and overseeing my purchases. We ran into another pilgrim from Santander, who had opted to camp in Beberino, and two more hours of chatting and drinks later, he dropped me off at Rabocan for the night. The next night in Poladura, Ender made an appearance at the albergue, answering questions about the route from German, English, American and Spanish pilgrims. His patience, kindness, and knowledge of "his" mountains and the trails that traverse them are palpable, and come from a place of genuine joy. I will remain forever grateful for everything Ender has done to revive interest in the "Caminos Asturianos" and to ensure the safety of those of us who wish to walk to El Salvador, whether as a pilgrimage on its own or en route to Santiago.
 

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amancio

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Frances, Norte, Primit, Salvador, Portug, Arag, Ingles, VdlP, Leban-Vadin, Fisterra, Invierno, LePuy
There is little more to add about this fantastic man, Ender!

I met him 10 years ago, we were a group of seven friends, at the time hardly anybody knew El Salvador, and I was in close contact with over the phone and via email to organize accommodation and other things. On Day 1, he came to encounter us half way to La Robla and accompanied us to the albergue. It was so new that we actually had to remove the plastic covers of the matresses, nobody had slept there yet!

He recommended the bar opposite the Buen Suceso little church on Day 2, excellent tortillas for a hearty breakfast to put us on the way to Poladura, part of the way under snow.

On Day 3, a Sunday, he joined us for the BIG stage, Poladura to La Tercia, and asked us for help to paint a couple of arrows, place a couple of metal shells and arrows and to place a large wooden sign along the way (photos below).

He showed us a particular spot where he was planning to plant a cross that would represent a landmark along the way. He did this project together with his mine mates, one of whom died shortly after placing the cross where it is right now.
We crossed the mountains in the middle of a blizzard, in May!!!!

He arranged the keys for Santa Maria de Arbas amazing church, which we visited under a heavy snowfall and without electric light, like they would have seen the church in the Middle Ages! He arranged a lunch for us in Mesón El Quico, which had just reopened near Arbas after having been closed for over 30 years or so.

A few years later, I visited him again, this time with my family, and he and his wife showed us around the whole area, the pits where he used to work, the bridge he had just finished building at the entrance of Poladura, the wooden signal we placed a few years earlier, the arrow I painted (that was such an honor!!!). I still keep in touch with him, he taught me to walk with sandals, and that is what I have been using ever since!

Now he is also heavily involved in Olvidado.

One particular thing I remember is, he told me how in the pits, nobody had a large salary as such; they would work together in teams, and the earnings, depending on their production, would be equally split among all team members. He was an electrician in the mines, and retired when he was just barely over 40. In Spain, dangerous professions, like that of a miner, pay triple money every month for their social security and pension, so they are allowed to retire after just over 25 years of work, even if they are only 40 years of age!

I really liked the idea of the team working together and splitting all income equally, fair play!
 

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Time of past OR future Camino
2022
I've not met the man, and I'm unlikely to have the chance, but I am grateful for all the effort into the development of the Salvador and the maintenance of the path. I was out there in the 2nd half of September and where I might have felt in over my head on a hike on a similar trail at home (not that we have any), I knew I could trust the signs, and the guidebook from ender and from Laurie (I read as much as I could in Spanish, and turned to the translation when my brain was pooped). Between that and the Wise Pilgrim tracks I was always certain that I was in the right spot, doing the right thing.... (well, except for that hard right I made shortly after Poladura and into a pasture where the apparent trail stopped dead. Like the rest of the 10 or so out that day, we all made the same error in the dark and exaggerated the right turn).

I was amazed to discover all the coal mines from Mieres to Oviedo... respect for the hard work... and the necessity of that energy source right now as winter comes and the natural gas lines are running on empty...

Also... I was so so so lucky with the weather.... it did not start to rain until I hit the Primitivo, where bad weather is generally far less dangerous... at least at that time of year.
 

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LavanyaLea

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Frances (May/June 2022)
Love the group photo where everyone was holding the metal marker! I also notice that sometimes on the track there were other yellow metal markers…. It’s for the Spanish gas lines!!! I had to take a double take, make sure it’s a shell 🐚😝
There is little more to add about this fantastic man, Ender!
I met him 10 years ago, we were a group of seven friends, at the time hardly anybody knew El Salvador, and I was in close contact with over the phone and via email to organize accommodation and other things. On Day 1, he came to encounter us half way to La Robla and accompanied us to the albergue. It was so new that we actually had to remove the plastic covers of the matresses, nobody had slept there yet!

He recommended the bar opposite the Buen Suceso little church on Day 2, excellent tortillas for a hearty breakfast to put us on the way to Poladura, part of the way under snow.

On Day 3, a Sunday, he joined us for the BIG stage, Poladura to La Tercia, and asked us for help to paint a couple of arrows, place a couple of metal shells and arrows and to place a large wooden sign along the way (photos below).

He showed us a particular spot where he was planning to plant a cross that would represent a landmark along the way. He did this project together with his mine mates, one of whom died shortly after placing the cross where it is right now.
We crossed the mountains in the middle of a blizzard, in May!!!!

He arranged the keys for Santa Maria de Arbas amazing church, which we visited under a heavy snowfall and without electric light, like they would have seen the church in the Middle Ages! He arranged a lunch for us in Mesón El Quico, which had just reopened near Arbas after having been closed for over 30 years or so.

A few years later, I visited him again, this time with my family, and he and his wife showed us around the whole area, the pits where he used to work, the bridge he had just finished building at the entrance of Poladura, the wooden signal we placed a few years earlier, the arrow I painted (that was such an honor!!!). I still keep in touch with him, he taught me to walk with sandals, and that is what I have been using ever since!

Now he is also heavily involved in Olvidado.

One particular thing I remember is, he told me how in the pits, nobody had a large salary as such; they would work together in teams, and the earnings, depending on their production, would be equally split among all team members. He was an electrician in the mines, and retired when he was just barely over 40. In Spain, dangerous professions, like that of a miner, pay triple money every month for their social security and pension, so they are allowed to retire after just over 25 years of work, even if they are only 40 years of age!

I really liked the idea of the team working together and splitting all income equally, fair play!
 
Time of past OR future Camino
Sept. 2022 El Salvador, Oct. 2022 Tui Portugués
I've not met the man, and I'm unlikely to have the chance, but I am grateful for all the effort into the development of the Salvador and the maintenance of the path. I was out there in the 2nd half of September and where I might have felt in over my head on a hike on a similar trail at home (not that we have any), I knew I could trust the signs, and the guidebook from ender and from Laurie (I read as much as I could in Spanish, and turned to the translation when my brain was pooped). Between that and the Wise Pilgrim tracks I was always certain that I was in the right spot, doing the right thing.... (well, except for that hard right I made shortly after Poladura and into a pasture where the apparent trail stopped dead. Like the rest of the 10 or so out that day, we all made the same error in the dark and exaggerated the right turn).

I was amazed to discover all the coal mines from Mieres to Oviedo... respect for the hard work... and the necessity of that energy source right now as winter comes and the natural gas lines are running on empty...

Also... I was so so so lucky with the weather.... it did not start to rain until I hit the Primitivo, where bad weather is generally far less dangerous... at least at that time of year.
 

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amancio

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Frances, Norte, Primit, Salvador, Portug, Arag, Ingles, VdlP, Leban-Vadin, Fisterra, Invierno, LePuy
Love the group photo where everyone was holding the metal marker! I also notice that sometimes on the track there were other yellow metal markers…. It’s for the Spanish gas lines!!! I had to take a double take, make sure it’s a shell 🐚😝
There is little more to add about this fantastic man, Ender!
Those were the original markers, himself and his "cuadrilla" (team of friends) made lots of them, some with shell, some with arrows, but I think they stopped making them because the cows could turn the arrows pointing in the wrong direction while scratching their behinds, and because hunters loved to practice their aiming against those bright yellow shells!

Lots of hours of work: men in their early 40s, fit, working together in this common project (the bridge in Poladura, the wooden signals, the huge cross in the middle of nowhere). Bringing the heavy cross to place and placing it was not easy, from the photos I have seem!
 
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Felice

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
SJPP to Santiago Sept 2014
I met Ender in Poladura when he was visiting the albergue, in Sept 2018. I knew a little about him, was using his guide, and like someone else above, was slightly overawed by meeting him. I just wish that I had known a little more about his working life in the mines, as we have a friend who was a consultant geologist in the mines in La Robla and visited frequently. I think he even had a house there at one point. My husband did some work on the coal measures in the area too so he knew La Robla very well back in the 1980s. Small world.
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Lots of hours of work: men in their early 40s, fit, working together in this common project (the bridge in Poladura, the wooden signals, the huge cross in the middle of nowhere)
Fast forward a few years, and they are still at it. They have built some wooden steps and railings to make sure that pilgrims don’t go the wrong way on the new route under the highway after Pola de Lena (thanks to Amancio for pointing out my mistake, I always confuse Pola de Gordón and Pola de Lena). It avoids the treacherously dangerous highway into Ujo, but it does have one particular spot where it was easy to keep going straight on a wide cleared path, while the correct route took a sharp left and descended. I know that from experience. :rolleyes: See the pictures of what they did on this thread. And they’re not in their 40s anymore!
 
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amancio

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Frances, Norte, Primit, Salvador, Portug, Arag, Ingles, VdlP, Leban-Vadin, Fisterra, Invierno, LePuy
Fast forward a few years, and they are still at it. They have built some wooden steps and railings to make sure that pilgrims don’t go the wrong way on the new route under the highway after Pola de Gordón. It avoids the treacherously dangerous highway into Ujo, but it does have one particular spot where it was easy to keep going straight on a wide cleared path, while the correct route took a sharp left and descended. I know that from experience. :rolleyes: See the pictures of what they did on this thread. And they’re not in their 40s anymore!
I think you mean "after Pola de Lena" in this case... I do not remember that stretch up to Ujo being particularly nasty, it was some sort of industrial estate, I think...
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
I think you mean "after Pola de Lena" in this case... I do not remember that stretch up to Ujo being particularly nasty, it was some sort of industrial estate, I think...
Yes you’re right. 🙏I will change my post. I wonder if maybe you walked on a weekend, because on a weekday early in the morning, there was a stream of big trucks and there is just absolutely no shoulder.
 

amancio

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Time of past OR future Camino
Frances, Norte, Primit, Salvador, Portug, Arag, Ingles, VdlP, Leban-Vadin, Fisterra, Invierno, LePuy
Yes you’re right. 🙏I will change my post. I wonder if maybe you walked on a weekend, because on a weekday early in the morning, there was a stream of big trucks and there is just absolutely no shoulder.
uhm... good point! it might have been a holiday, all right... it was a long stage, that I remember, but also very pleasant to be back in the valley after a few days of snow!
 
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