Day 23 – 9th October 2015, Carrion de los Condes to Terradillos de los Templarios.
I woke up feeling fully refreshed and ready to start the day. I leapt out of bed like a spring lamb….well err, actually my mind was like a spring lamb, while my body behaved more like a 100 year old tortoise from the Galapagos islands, my knees making the odd creaking and groaning noise! I packed up quickly and realised some things were missing. Oh no, where were my trekking poles? I thought I had brought them up with me, after I checked in at reception. No, I must have left them downstairs. I hurried down the beautiful, wooden staircase and searched around the lobby of Hostal Albe. Propped up next to the bannister, leaning nonchalantly, was one of my poles, the other was nowhere to be found. What? Some cheeky blighter had nicked the other one! How could he/she do this to another pilgrim? I was outraged! Of course, I had immediately assumed that the person, who had taken my pole was a fellow pilgrim. Funny how one jumps to conclusions. But it might not have been. Could someone have wandered in off the street and pinched it? Was it an ‘inside job’ and someone was making a nice little earner on the side from selling on stolen pilgrim kit? No, unlikely, it was odd that one of the poles had been left behind. I huffed, grumpily, while I clambered out onto the narrow, cobbled street, clutching my lonely pole in my right hand.
As usual, I left my accommodation in the dark of the early morning hours. I had quickly adopted a strategy of picking accommodation in towns and cities that were situated along the Camino on the way out of the place, rather than near the entrance. Hostal Albe was no exception. Psychologically, this felt better because in the mornings I have less distance to walk through an ‘urban’ area before reaching the countryside again and this was kinder to my feet! Also, I thought I could beat the pilgrim rush hour! “It is not a race!”, I reprimanded myself.
Today’s walk would be a relatively gentle romp of 26.7 km from Carrion de los Condes to Terradillos de los Templarios, which means ‘small Templar terraces’ – ah how cute. Small Templar terraces? I couldn’t imagine the Knights Templar doing anything on a small scale as their legend is larger than life! Sorry, I digress, I say ‘gentle romp’, because I looked at the elevation chart in my Brierley guide and the route looked pretty much flat, not a wrinkle or a pimple on the landscape in sight. I glanced across to the map and chuckled to myself, remembering something Brett had said during one of our recent skype chats. He said “You’ll come to a stretch soon, where all you do is turn left and walk for about 10 km and then turn right and walk for another 10 km and that’s your walk for the day, it’s flat and as boring as hell..”Hmm, looking at the map in front of me, I realised that moment may have arrived. Oh, by the way, shall I slip in another nerdy fact alert here? Yesterday, on reaching Carrion de los Condes, I had walked an approximate total of 371.1 km (230.6 miles) from St. Jean Pied de Port. This means, I have about 405.1 km or 251.7 miles to walk to Santiago, so I am edging closer and closer to the half way point. Hurrah!
I can only describe this stretch of the Camino walk as beige. The fields were beige, the grass was beige, the trail was beige and the road was beige, especially the dreary sections alongside the autopista. But, as you can see, I was not beige – more of a rosy pink with accents of blue that day.
However, beige does not necessarily mean totally boring or a complete head wreck. I think it is all a matter of perspective. How you view your Camino or part of your Camino is entirely up to you. I am a firm believer in co-creation and every person co-creates his or her day to day reality with all that is and in their interactions with the people they encounter, as well as with nature.
There was a long stretch from Carrion de los Condes to Calzadilla de la Cueza, bearing slightly round to the left through Calzada Romana (named after the Roman Road). The Brierley guide warns pilgrims to have breakfast in Carrion de los Condes before setting off or to stock up on snacks because opportunities for refreshment were scarce but I had done neither and my little stomach alien began to make himself known. About half way, I noticed pilgrims veering off the gravel path to the right. Curious, I followed suit and before me stood the mobile Cafe Oasis. Lovely! I stopped for a cheeky coffee and pastry for my first breakfast. Although the sun shone brightly, I still felt the morning chill air on my arms. I sat down at a table opposite fellow Brit, Chris, who worked in publishing back home in London. He came out to walk the Camino on his own and loved to hike. We chatted for a while until I had finished my coffee, which was nice as I hadn’t met many Brits on the way. I began to feel more of the chill in the air, so wished Chris a “Buen Camino” as I got up to trundle on my way feeling that we would probably meet again later on in Terradillos de los Templarios.
Walking on the flat for miles and miles, allows ample time for introspection. I began to reflect on my frustration earlier in the morning, when I discovered one of my poles had disappeared. Why had I reacted so strongly? I honestly felt like I wanted to slap someone! It was only a trekking pole, it had not cost the earth, and I still had my other pole so I knew I could manage the next time I hiked up and over a mountain or two. It is strange how we become attached to ‘things’, that we think are ‘ours’ or ‘belong’ to us, when in reality ownership is a social construct. We cannot ‘own’ a person, a thing, a piece of property or land, because we are just passing through, even though societal norms dictate otherwise. This beautiful planet we call ‘earth’ and our home, is our pitstop in the present moment. The abundant resources we have at our fingertips do not belong to us per se. They are here to sustain life and we are caretakers of those precious resources. However, we do ‘belong’ to each other, in community and the Camino community at a moment in time, is a microcosm of the global human family. I began to see that perhaps the person, who now clutched my trekking pole probably needed it more than I did. I was happy to release it to the Universe.
Martin fell into step with me and I snapped out of my introspective reverie. We talked amiably for a few kilometres and marvelled at how, a few weeks into the walk, we could cover long distances by elevenses. By the time we rocked into Calzadilla de la Cueza, we realised we were about 18 km in to the day’s ramble and it was indeed about 11 o’ clock. My inner hobbit cried out for a second breakfast-like snack. Thankfully there was a little shop on the left hand side as we strolled into the village that also served hot drinks and mouth-watering pastries, as well as a wide range of groceries for the discerning pilgrim. I couldn’t help myself. I grabbed a coffee and an apple Danish. Two pastries in the same morning, would the world end? Nope. I settled down to enjoy my fayre on a wooden bench outside and Martin and I chatted to a lovely Canadian couple, Shelley and Dale. I commiserated with Shelley, who was suffering with a nasty wound on her foot but bravely continued her walk.
Shelley and Dale went on ahead and I soon followed, bidding Martin farewell as he stayed on the bench waiting for his companions to catch up. I pressed on. Ultreia through beige. I don’t really remember much about the next section, apart from putting one foot in front to the other and feeling the sun on my skin. I walked into Ledigos, where I refuelled with a tasty slice of tortilla before carrying on to Terradillos de los Templarios. I headed for Albergue Jacques de Molay, where one of my Irish friends, Mary, had kindly reserved me a bed in advance. I was very grateful and thanked her. After checking in, unpacking a few of my things in a room with six beds and showering I bumped in to Dale in the corridor. He and Shelley had been there for a while. Gosh, they must have got a wriggle on, I thought to myself. Shelley’s foot was really sore and Dale helped her dress her wound. I gave them some antiseptic spray to try.
I went downstairs and joined the Irish ladies for a few moments in the sunny courtyard and then pulled up a chair to another table to write my blog. Chris sat down at the table and opened up his journal. We shared thoughts on writing about our respective trips and the joys and challenges of blogging. Chris writes a blog that cleverly weaves thoughts on politics and Zen Buddhism together, called zenpolitics.
Just before dinner, I popped back upstairs and noticed a couple had arrived and were busy unpacking and preparing their beds. The tall guy, turned to me and said with sneering superiority, “You’re not one of these early risers are you?”. I was rather stunned and gave him and his silent, short and mousey companion my best Paddington Bear stare back and replied, “I will see how I feel in the morning”. As you know, us Brits are outwardly polite, but suffer from frequently repressed emotions. Inwardly I screamed, “Of course I am an early riser you moron, we are staying in an albergue. Chucking out time is at ‘oh my God its early o’ clock’. What do you think this is a holiday? And if you wanted to sleep in you should have booked a room for yourselves.” Instead of verbalising this tirade, I glided serenely, out of the room, downstairs to the dining room.
By the time the evening pilgrim meal was served, Shelley had already eaten, so Dale came over to sit with Chris and I at a table with Tim, an older Englishman and Andreas from Sweden. A very lively discussion ensued covering travels to various parts of the world, including Ephesus, working on Banana plantations overseas and the pros and cons of the Fairtrade movement and assisting in humanitarian crises in conflict and natural disasters. I would have liked to have stayed there, talking and listening for a few more hours but I knew the grumpy couple in my room would not take too kindly if I had disturbed them so I retreated to bed, feeling content that the day had not been beige after all.
Find out what happened next…
Peace, love and light,