Distance to go: 587.5 Kms
We woke this morning to a grey and overcast day and much cooler than of late. In fact significantly cooler. We got going around 06:15 in the morning twilight. I still had my shorts on and my shirt but put my hoodie on as well and I needed it. It is great to be out walking at this time of the morning. The air felt thick and heavy but very fresh. We walk along at about 3 Kms an hour which is plenty fast enough to enjoy all the wild flowers and bird song punctuated by the occasional frog croaking in its pond and the cockerels heralding the morning.
By around 7:30 it started to drizzle and then a little more so we donned our groovy ponchos for the first time since we started. They are very good apart from the ‘boil in the bag’ effect. If the rain does not soak you from the outside the sweat gets you from the inside!
As we walked we talked. We miss our friends Keith and Tanya and wondered where they were. We left them in Viana 2 days back.
After about 8 Kms we came across a stranger sight you will not see. It is a town called Cirueña. A whole town devoid of any people. Houses, apartment blocks and a school were all there, well tended but not a person in sight. It was like one of those Hollywood deadly plague movies. There was even a golf course with no golfers. It was spooky to say the least. The school had an outdoor swimming pool that was clean and full of water.
The place is called an ‘área de descanso’ and is a purpose built new suburb waiting for people. I can’t help but think somebody somewhere needs a good kick up the backside for this multimillion euro goof.
From there we followed the cinder farm tracks for another 6Kms into the town of Santo Domingo de Calzada. Here we stopped for a fried egg and bacon sandwich and a cup of tea. Simply heavenly. A few essentials were purchased at the “Farmacia”. We wanted to visit the cathedral as it is famous for having two chickens in a coop inside it. It is one of those bizarre stories as to why it is there but I refuse to pay to go into any house of worship on principal so missed it. I always make a voluntary donation but when I see a ticket office to get in to a cathedral well I’m out of there. So here is the story of the chicken in a cathedral.
Our planned stop of Grañon lay 7 Kms away along more cinder farm tracks. We waved at farmers and gave them an Hola! We always got a wave or a nod and sometimes a “Buen Camino”. The people we have met so far along the Camino have been so lovely. The pharmacists, the bakers, the people running the inns and albergues have all been so lovely despite our sweaty faces coming into and out off their lives.
We got to Grañon. Debbs looked into the first albergue. It is on the top floor of a church and the mattresses were on the floor. That was not good for me. I would never get up off them with my knees at the moment so we went to a private one and had a look. We did not get in the front door. It looked so unappealing. The glass was cracked. A sign on a piece of wood told us to ring the bell. We did. No one came. That was our sign to move on. It was another 4 Kms to Redecilla del Camino. We left the La Rioja region and entered the Castilla Y Léon region. With my gammy knee and a calf muscle tying itself in knots it was a long 4Kms. We have walked further today than any other day. Not intentionally. My feet are complaining. My calf muscle is slowly unwinding and my knees are saying hello. More rioja will sort all that out this evening.
However we made it and found the albergue. 5 euros each a night for a bunk bed. Its clean and quiet and we know some of the other pilgrims. Our 2 “camino ninjas” are here. They are in fact Koreans but wear sunglasses over handkerchiefs that cover their faces and a hat so we call them our camino ninjas. They love it. We met them days ago but they come into and out of our lives as we walk along the way.
At the end of 2 weeks walking am I still enjoying this? Strangely enough yes. Despite all the aches and pains, the often rudimentary sleeping arrangements, living day to day out of a backpack, the sometimes monotonous fields of vines and barley and the heat I am right where I want to be. Why? The people I have met so far have all enriched my life. Everybody is doing this for all sorts of reasons. I have not found out what my reason is yet. As I write Debbie is talking to 2 young pastors from Hungary. One has terrible shin splints and she is helping. His english is perfect. I am listening as I write. It’s wonderful.
Finally my mutt de jour was posing nicely until a cat popped out from a car parked just out of shot to then right. Then the pooch went into orbit and hence the strange pose.
Distance walked today: 26.3 Kms.