Saturday, July 2, 2011

Camino De Santiago: Day 14 and 15-Carrion de los Condes to Terradillos de los Templarios to Calzadilla de los Hermanillos

Wow. That title is a mouthful!

I'm breaking Camino post tradition here on the blog by combining two days. Why? Because for some reason I have no pictures from these days! I remember that my camera stopped working at one point in the Camino, but I thought it was further along. Who knows.

Anyway, these days were much like the previous days on the Meseta--long, wet and flat. Day 14 included an 18 km stretch with absolutely nothing but fields. This meant that you had extra weight in your pack as you had to make sure you were carrying enough water and food with you. The weight was one thing, but honestly, the worst was just not having any kind of natural break in the walk. It was surprisingly mentally taxing. Somehow we also made the discovery that while climbing up and down hills is hard on the heart and lungs, constantly pounding the flat pavement is really tough on the joints. The ankles were feeling it.

Nevertheless, it we made the best of it. I walked the first part of it alone, but then joined up with The Irish Teachers and my Parisian Friend to walk the rest of the way. With great company and the lunch I packed--consisting of my left over pina y curry salad and ripe strawberries--we made it through the 18 km stretch without too much complaining.

When we finally made it in to Terradillos we had another Camino first--the albergue was full. This apparently happens quite a bit in the summer, but we had yet to experience a full albergue. Even though it was still early in the season, lots of people were out walking just for their Easter holidays. Luckily we encountered my Korean friends walking back out of town who let us know that it was full. This saved me the trouble of walking into the town and back, and we just stayed at the private hostel right outside of town. We camped out there for the night--it poured all evening so we had dinner at the restarant in the hostel. I ate with my German friend Christian (who was on a mission to teach us German words--ja genauuu!) and a Korean American (who is the winner of most interesting job I encountered on the Camino--he was a graphic designer for the Vatican!).

When planning the next day on the trail (basically what we did every evening after supper), we realized that the albergue in the town we planned to stay in only had about 20 beds. When we calculated that the rather big albergue in town was full, and that ours had plenty of people as well, we decided we had better start early to make sure we had a place to sleep at the next stop. At 5:30 I as up, and I was off by 6! (Definitely another Camino first!)

Should I say it again? It was a long, wet day (are we seeing a trend?). It had rained so much overnight that we had to leave from a side door because the front was all flooded! I stopped for breakfast in the next town (because believe me, finding a cafe open at 6 in a Spanish town is a futile search!) and found my Korean friends. We walked together most of the morning. It was so rainy that we made frequent I am not sure it really did us that much good to start so early! We waded through mud and water, and the ugly town of Saghun. By this point I had started (lovingly) referring to the Camino as the Rio (river) de Santiago. Soon after that we split as I realized walking slowly with them (my friend Jaeky  is tiny and has to take lots of tiny steps) was actually causing me more pain rather then less. I figured if every step was going to be painful I might as well take big ones and just get myself to town.

I finally made it into the one-street town of Calzadilla de los Hermanillos, found the municipal hostel and asked (in hope) if they had any beds left.

I was the first one there. All that hurry for nothing! This was another section of the Camino where you had two choices in routes, except here, the routes would not meet back up for a couple days. I thought most people would chose this way, but I was wrong. In the end only a few more people showed up--my Korean friends, my French friend (who had the sense to stay in a nicer place in town), and...the weird Norwegian guy! I met some Valencian people on the way, but they chose to go on to the next town to sleep (they were only walking for the week, so were ready to tackle a little more than the rest of us).

In the end the Albergue was super basic--less than twenty beds, temperamental hot water and only a gas stove to heat it. The French volunteer running it was a bit strange, but she had the place clean and fixed me up with an ice pack, so I didn't complain. It was Good Friday, so I made my way down to the church in town to check out Good Friday Spanish style.

Verdict? It was kind of strange. It was very "small town" and after the first part of the service they went into a portion that reminded me of the wake scene in the movie Volver. The chanting was almost like bees humming. After a bit, I said some prayers, shuffled my way back to the albergue, took some ibuprofen and tucked in for the night. 

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