Lilly-Barb is now becoming the early riser. Before it was light I awoke to her getting ready and lay in bed drifting between worlds before getting up myself. We were out in the cool morning air by 7:15, sunrise was at 7:23. Our earliest start on this Camino.
Unsure of the initial route we followed another pair of pilgrims from the last of the city’s suburbs into the campos and fields that we’d been missing for several days. Again back on the familiar Meseta, flat and level far into the horizon though now there were snow capped mountains that framed its edges to the north and west.
Lilly and I were both walking purposefully today, meditative striding, averaging a bit over 3K per hour. It takes more focus and discipline for me to stay steady on this stride than on the gate I regularly like to walk. Gladly my right foot was fine and didn’t bother me on the trek today. It did remind me it was there whenever my thoughts wandered off in an “unproductive” way, though. Lil’s foot did bother her on and off. And it is slowly improving. She led some of the way today, I following her, both of us going slower than most pilgrims who passed us by.
The day was another amazing gift amongst the many that we have received on this journey. To date we have experienced only 2 rain days and one of those only had a limited shower. The rest of the time we’ve had varying degrees of blue skies and sunny days. Since hitting the Meseta a week ago we have been blessed with near perfect weather for hiking and sightseeing.
We came to Spain prepared to spend most of our journey donning ponchos and rain pants. Instead the rain gear is stashed in the bottom of our packs and we are wearing shorts and t-shirts. One of the pilgrims we met who had walked the Camino twice before, told us that both times he came in the spring and that he was wet most of the time. We have been very blessed with fine weather on this Way.
After the first hour we stopped at a little village for coffee. An enterprising cafe/bar owner was open early for business and several pilgrims were breakfasting there when we arrived. Oh that first cup of coffee in the morning on the Way, it is one of life’s joys!
As we were leaving another couple came in whom I had seen and helped with Spanish translation the evening before at our restaurant. We said hello and introduced ourselves. They were from New Zealand, the first New Zealanders we’d met, and were planning to finish in Santiago on June 6 their 50th Wedding Anniversary. We thought that very sweet.
We’ve seen a number of older folks (over 70) on this Camino. In fact I might venture to say that I have seen more people over 50 this trip than people under 30. When I walked the Camino in France those pilgrims I met were predominantly younger. I think it is wonderful that no matter the age or condition the Way calls to all and the call is answered by all.
The next 9K took us to another village boasting 3 Albergues. We stopped at one called Tio Peppi because we liked the name. There we had our second coffee and lunch of rice cakes, goat cheese, carrot, chocolate, a wonderful ripe avocado and watercress greens. Food like the first coffee tastes soo good on the Way. We have figured out how to eat well and enjoyably too. We had another 10K to go to our evenings lodgings. We both felt revived after eating and took to the Way once more.
The last three hours were along a long straight road, half paved half not. The wind had picked up and it was just between needing to add a layer to my t-shirt or not temperature. Half way we stopped to rest and gripe about our pains a bit. Not too much, just enough to get through to the Albergue in Villavante which we happily made about 3:00.
We’d made reservations the night before for a double using the name Guillermo Blanco to hold it. It just seemed easier than trying to say Will Whitesmith. Again we were blessed with good fortune as this Albergue is also new and our room is comfy and lovely. While I took my shower Lilly-Barb found a clothes washer available, washed our clothes and then hung them to dry in the afternoon sun. Even my hat! What a treat!
After stretches outside in the beauty of the afternoon sun we went in to dinner. However, there were two seatings tonight so we had to wait a bit as we missed the first one. At dinner we were seated next to an Austrian pilgrim, a first this trip too, who was a Spiritual Coach. With our German being zilch and his English being very little we didn’t get too far with our conversation, however it seemed he helped people reduce anxiety and find inner peace.
Dinner itself was an average pilgrim’s meal. Good mixed salad, a French omelet (only had eggs) with fries and dessert. No wine or beer tonight accompanied our meal so we passed and decided to teetotal it for a change. Lilly-Barb has developed a drinking habit on the Camino and we thought it was time to break it!
Today we met more English speakers than any day so far. We also met more Americans to date too. Our first Americans were a young newly married couple (maybe this is their honeymoon – if so and they survive it still liking each other they have a promising future). Barb noticed how new and shinny their wedding rings were. We met a woman from Arizona, a woman from Cape Cod, a woman from Colorado Springs. These women were all middle aged or retired and were walking alone. We also met a Dutch woman reading a book in English and found out that she used to be an English teacher and preferred English literature.
Our next two days we begin climbing out of the Meseta getting ready to enter the last stage of the Camino in Galacia four days from today. As all things shift and change on the Way we are now adjusting to our physical challenges and calling ahead for reservations so we can plan the amount of walking we do each day, at least for now. We have reservations for tomorrow and Saturday made. When calling several places were already full so we can also see the Camino is coming into it full season, which May is.
Well friends, I started this entry this afternoon so I am completing it earlier than usual. However, it was a long day and tomorrow promises the same so I shall retire early and bid you all:
Buenas Noches Amigos!
Storks and St. J. The patron spirits of the Way. Our Albergue.
View from within an Albergue.