Had the best sleep of the Walk yet. When I napped in the afternoon the bed had welcomed and cuddled me in and last night it gave me the warmest deepest sleep in a long time. It was delicious.
We stopped by the Albergue of the night before and had a large cup of good coffee. The place was almost empty, most pilgrims already on their way. Barb wanted another but it never showed up so we took off into a lovely early summer day.
The path soon led us by a small canal which we followed to the next town. Here we stopped for a coffee and a snack. Our new routine is to stop for a break every 5K and eat something every 10K. This way we’re nourishing our bodies on a regular basis and breaking up the walk in segments making the whole journey more enjoyable.
The route took us again along the main highway. To my surprise there were other pilgrims now both ahead and behind us. Wow, I thought, the Camino is getting busier and I started projecting out into the future that the long quiet hikes of the Way, seeing only an occasional pilgrim, were a thing of the past for me. At that moment a couple of women were ahead of me talking and feeling frustrated I decided to listen to music I’d downloaded to my phone, the first time I’ve done so on this trip. I’d asked several friends for suggestions for upbeat tunes and my friend Kathryn had given me a number of great choices that I began to listen to. Immediately I felt happier and got my joyful step back into my feet. It also put me in touch with her spirit and I was so glad to experience her presence with me on the Way. I realized how much I missed her.
Soon we came to a sign showing an alternate route available. The direction we had been heading would have continued to follow the highway to Carrion de los Condos about 18K from where we were. The other choice took us along a small river and though it would add a little extra time we opted for this way.
The walk was one of the sweetest to date. The path meandered along with the stream not only giving us shade from the trees that lined the route but also a symphony of sound from the birds, insects and frogs. The frogs got my attention and as I looked down amongst the reeds I could see frogs happily swimming and playing in the water below. There were two literally playing leap frog with one another, these I named Bill and Lil, then another showed up and she was Jill. Barb and I had fun laughing with the frogs, our namesakes and we thought of Kathryn’s sister Jill having fun with us in our silly way.
We sauntered along until the next little town which had a playground and shelter for us to rest in. We filled our water containers and had a snack break. There were two pilgrims in sleeping bags snoozing in the shade. These were the only two we’d seen since talking the alternate path. Though, soon one more pilgrim showed up also in search of a rest stop. He was from Germany and wore shoes with toes. I asked him how he liked them and he replied that once he got used to them he thought they gave better support than his conventional boots. I’ve been curious about this new kind of footwear and may try it on a future trek. We both liked his gentle spirit and were glad to make a connection with him.
The next stage of our day’s journey continued along the river and we had it all to ourselves. When we reached the next break it was time to leave it behind and take to the blacktop again. However, by now we only had 7K to our destination and had enjoyed a quiet and tranquil country walk without any distractions. I thought well even if the Way is getting busier, magical moments, as today’s walk showed me, are always possible.
The last 6K into Carrion de los Condos were hard. We had already done over 25K and by now it was 3:00 and the heat was at a peak. It had been warm and sunny but once by the highway again it became hot and a bit oppressive. Barb’s right foot which has been bothering her all day was getting more painful and we debated going on. However, being the trooper she is, she bucked up and did what she had to, and as she said to me, she is good at it! I put on my sunglasses for the first time as the glare was intense. My feet were getting tired and I put my earphones in again listening to Leonard Cohen’s music as I slogged the last k’s into town.
When we arrived we saw a number of pilgrims, some walking around the town others sitting at cafes having a beer after their day’s exertions. We no longer had our guide book to consult so we followed signs for hostels and hotels. We tried several and found them to be full. Our wandering took us through town and almost out again when we saw one hostel but were not drawn to staying there. Back we went towards the town center hoping to find something better. We did find a small one star hotel but it too was full. I asked the porter for suggestions on another place and he directed us back to the hostel we had just turned our noses up at. We of course laughed at the irony of it and I said now we were returning as beggars not choosers.
Once there I rang the buzzer and waited for a response of “sorry, we are full.” However, not only did they have a room for us, but it turned out to be one of the nicer accommodations we have had to date, complete with a large lovely tub for soaking. We were so happy to have a room for the night as we had begun to wonder what we would do if all the inns were full. One further anecdote was that the porter who directed us here had followed us to make sure we did secure a place for the night. The kindness we have encountered on the Way has been wonderful and greatly appreciated.
We settled into our ritual of bathing, washing clothes and stretching. The simple tasks at the end of a day of walking are a delight and comfort in and of themselves. We take our time and when finished it offers a sense of completeness for the day.
Barb’s foot was now such that she couldn’t walk comfortably on it. We limited our evenings excursion to the nearby vicinity of our hostel, where we found a small grocery and a restaurant. We had a table outside looking out on the town square and though getting cooler the temp was still pleasant. We ordered a mixed salad with delicious asparagus, pimento peppers, red ripe tomatoes, tuna and sadly of course iceberg lettuce, the bane of our existence when wanting real greens. Along with our salad we enjoyed a dish of sauted mushrooms and a small pepperoni pizza. I had a beer and Barb red wine with the meal. We were delighted with the fare and left for our hostel full and happy.
Back at our cozy suite we conferred about the next day. One of our reasons for coming to Carrion de los Condos was to hear the Benedictine nuns at one of the Albergues sing, which they do every evening at 5:00. We had arrived too late today to hear them and Barb wished greatly to have that experience. Furthermore, her foot needed a good rest and we had not taken a rest day since we were in St. Millan, so we decided to stay on tomorrow and hear the nuns in the afternoon. As we prepared for bed we again looked back on our day with wonderment on how our day unfolded and how lovely it is to trust that all we need is coming our way on the Way.
With that we turned out the lights and said to our readers:
Hasta Manana Amigos!
Spanish colors on the Way. St. J. de Compestella. Store’s nest.
End of a fine meal. Dinner in Spain.
Barb at rest.