Day 24 – 10th October 2015, Terradillos de los Templarios to Calzadilla de los Hermanillos.
Oh my word! The grumpy couple in my dorm excelled themselves by sounding more akin to the snorer from hell my friends and I encountered back in Zubiri, and the French guy opposite me, joined them in harmony. As you can imagine, I didn’t have a very restful night, so I got up early (ha, ha!) feeling a tad pissed off. Several people were already up and about, using the washrooms and packing up so I didn’t feel terribly guilty and I restrained myself from putting all the lights on in the dorm for revenge.
My mood soon lifted with the thought of breakfast. I ambled across to the dining room. The lady serving at the bar was bordering on hostile, it must be catching, I thought. I smiled cheerily and ordered breakfast. A short while later, Chris and Tim joined me and we munched along in bleary-eyed, companionship. It was still pitch black outside. The air was clear and very fresh so I shivered, as our happy trio set off into the dark. I was still coming to terms with the loss of my trekking pole, as it felt very awkward to walk with one instead of two. I could no longer click-clack down the street but only click. I decided to swap hands regularly. I clicked on and followed the Camino trail as it snaked its way out through the flat landscape. A little while later we stopped for a moment to watch the sun come up. I never ceased to be in awe of watching the sun rise along the Camino. It is always a magical moment!
Today’s challenge presented a 26.5 km stroll from Terradillos de los Templarios to Calzadilla de los Hermanillos, via the historical town of Sahagun. Some of the Camino trail, lay adjacent to the main road, with an option to follow a green (more rural) route on the approach to Sahagun and later on from Calzada del Coto to Calzadilla de los Hermanillos. Chris, Tim and I all agreed that we preferred the green route to Calzadilla de los Hermanillos, instead of taking the other option, the orange route from Sahagun to Bercianos del Real Camino. None of us wanted to walk so close to the main autopista for miles and miles.
Nerdy fact alert coming up! Glancing at the guidebook, I realised that Terradillos de los Templarios was 378.3 km (or 235.1 miles) from Santiago de Compostela. I had walked approximately 397.9 km or 247.2 miles from St. Jean Pied de Port. Wow! In effect, I had already passed by the half way point of my journey (but we all know that the distances given in the Brierley Camino guidebook are not hugely accurate, because the distance markings on the ground vary considerably). However, Sahagun marked the official ‘geographical centre’ of the Camino Frances route. My friend Laurie had tipped me off via Facebook messenger a couple of days before that it was possible to obtain a certificate from Sahagun. Also I was aware that my friend Alan, had been heading for Sahagun in order to reach half-way before he went on to meet up with his sister in Malaga for a few days before flying home to Sweden. I wondered if I would bump into him to say farewell.
We walked quickly through the villages of Moratinos and San Nicolas del Real Camino and crossed the provincial border from Palencia into Leon. We followed the gravel senda through to the picturesque old stone bridge by the Rio Valderaduey, up and over past the tiny Ermita Virgen del Puente towards two enormous, stone gate posts welcoming pilgrims to the geographical centre of the Camino Frances! Definitely a photo opportunity!
Dale and Shelley came by, stopped for some snaps and I asked Shelley about her foot. She mentioned that the antiseptic had helped to dry out the wound, which was good news. They motored on ahead at top speed. We followed at a slower pace, entering the busy and bustling Sahagun on market day and strolled around, trying to follow the ‘blue detour’ route (Brierley guide) to take in the sights and sounds. Sadly, some of the key historic churches we wanted to explore were shut, leaving us to admire their architecture from the street. We obtained pilgrim stamps from the tourist desk on the ground floor of the municipal albergue at the Iglesia de la Trinidad. I asked about the half-way certificate called a ‘Carta Peregrina’ only to discover that we would need to cross the town to another church, Iglesia Señora La Peregrina to obtain one. In the meantime, we decided to rest at a cafe next to the market to enjoy a second breakfast. I refuelled with orange juice, a lovely slice of tortilla, the usual cafe con leche and a couple of cakes. Well I was hungry!
Afterwards, we raced across town to the Iglesia Señora La Peregrina to get our Carta Peregrinas before the office closed. While we waited for our certificates to be signed, we wandered around a sculpture exhibition, where there were larger-than-lifesize sculptures of humans made out of pieces of re-bar welded together. The skill and workmanship was remarkable. I was chuffed to pick up my Carta Peregrina on the way out. It was printed in beautiful, colourful script with a dragon heading. How very Game of Thrones! I felt like a Brienne of Tarth, well, minus the suit of armour and the sword of course…
Ultreia! Yes it was time to press on. Onwards along the Camino out of town in the afternoon sunshine. We saw a viking-like pilgrim across the road with his companions who called out to us, “You are on the wrong Camino, we are on the right one!” We crossed over the road eventually and the trail took us on to the old Roman road towards Calzadilla de los Hermanillos. This was another, relatively flat stretch but stoney in parts. I discovered that Chris had studied history at Oxford University and so he regaled us with historical accounts from Roman times as we tramped along. Tim interjected now and again with his anecdotes from his postings abroad, when he worked on banana plantations or the period when he engaged in a spot of cattle ranching in Brazil! This was just as well, because the Roman road would have been a bit bleak otherwise. Soon, however, my legs felt heavy and tired and my feet burned with the constant stomping over stones and gravel. “What have the Romans ever given us?”, I thought to myself, “hmmm sore feet”. I looked forward to reaching Calzadilla de los Hermanillos for a rest.
When we arrived in the village we headed for the first Albergue we could see, the Via Trajana. Who should I bump into in reception but Tias? He and his two companions had booked in an hour or two earlier, he recommended the rooms as well as the food in the restaurant. I couldn’t walk another step. I checked into a single room so I could catch up on sleep. Unfortunately the dorm rooms were full so Tim and Chris went down the road to the municipal hostel.
After a shower, I had a lie down and put my feet up against the wall. I skyped Brett and told him about my half-way certificate. He was surprised because he wasn’t aware of the Carta Peregrina when he walked the Camino two years ago. I wondered if it was a new initiative. A bit later I noticed that Alan had posted a photo of himself holding up his half-way certificate. I must have just missed him by about an hour before he left Sahagun! I was so pleased he had reached the half-way point and I hoped he would return to complete the rest of the Way another time.
My stomach alien started to grumble, so I creaked (sore knees and feet) my way downstairs to the restaurant. I was so tired I decided to sit at a table on my own and zoned out. Someone spoke to me and I came back to reality. It was Martin inviting me to join him and the familiar gang – Kenny, Mike and Jim, at their table. I hobbled over and sat down. We tucked into a generous pilgrim meal and as the wine flowed we went round the table cracking jokes. I’m afraid I can’t repeat any of them here! I felt a nickname coming into focus for my companions. I wonder, would the ‘Four Pissed Pilgrims’ be suitable? Only time will tell. Tias joined in the frivolity for a while by entertaining us with his perfect, slight of hand card tricks. He reminded me of Dynamo, the magician. What fun we had and a great way to end the day.
Tune in for another exciting episode…
Peace, love and light,