Today the Burgo Ranero is a small town located between Sahagun and Leon. Thousands of pilgrims pass this point on their way to Santiago. It is believed the town got it´s name from the frogs that lived on the pond located by the town.
One late afternoon the “hospitalera” from the albergue with a group of children invited us to visit the pond located next to the village, where the children took their turns to tell us this beautiful legend:
In the early days of the Way of Saint James, a wise pilgrim from distant lands happened to pass by this town. Night was approaching and he started looking for a place to rest that night. The houses were located on the edge of the pond from which a huge stink arise and the croaking sound of hundreds of frogs and toads was almost unbearable. Reeds and plants grew everywhere hiding the depth of the lagoon. Such was the fear and loathing that caused the dark waters, that the wealthier men in town built their houses as far as possible from the pond, leaving the poorest neighbors living on its shores. Even pilgrims varied their route to avoid the stink and the dark waters.
The pilgrim approached a child to ask where to find accommodation for the night. The little one said that due to the late hour and the people celebrating the Eve of St. John, he would not be able to find a room and invited him to stay at his home but warned of the drawbacks as his house was next to the pond. The pilgrim smiled to what the child said but accepted without regard.
After a light dinner the wise pilgrim retired to sleep. The doors were close for the night, however the croaking sound of frogs and toads penetrated every corner of the house.
The following morning , the wise pilgrim woke up early and so did the child with the intention of offering breakfast to his guest. The child looked around for some food but unfortunately there was none, he had nothing to offer to the wise pilgrim and tearfully told him so. The wise pilgrim reassured the boy and offered him an apple he was carrying on his bag. The child was very surprised because that what all the food the man was carrying for his long journey. With a big smile he told the boy that James had given him the best of gifts: the human generosity and the naivity of a child.
He said goodbye to the child by telling him that after eating the apple he had to throw the apples core to the middle of the pond and that the little apple core would absorb all the evil that was in the pond. The child was puzzled, he couldn’t understand the strange request. Hours later the child ate the apple and approached the shore and still without understanding the stranger request, he threw with all his force the apple core into the center of the pond. With great surprise he watched how at the point where he had thrown the apple core water was clearer and how all the water in the pond slowly was getting cleaner. The boy could not believe the miracle. The pilgrim was right: The pond was cleaning itself!
Even today, you can still see an area that is clean. The frogs croak softly and pleasantly.
It feels as if the memory and the wise pilgrim remains there through the centuries…