Ok folks, time, days and places have blurred into one. Been having trouble with wifi, e-mail, phone connections and such like. Not sure why but it’s not unusual for me to have problems with that sort of stuff.
So, in this all encompassing post you are bout to get 2 or 3 days worth of photographs, thoughts and musings in one great big splurge attached to this post.
Stayed in a convent (Espiritu Santo) for a night. A peaceful, quiet and very welcome experience. Here are some photographs from that stay including one of me and a guy called Ian posing alongside a cartoon bag-pipe player. Ian is unbelievably from my hometown of Edinburgh and lives about 3 miles from my childhood home. Overall, this was a mind blowing experience. A convent with wifi. The bolts on some of the doors I looked at were medieval, about 2 feet long with padlocks the size of a small child.
The nuns all seemed to be less than 5 feet tall (some sort of job requirement perhaps or maybe they bought a load of tiny habits). They may be small of stature but take it from me they are huge of heart.
I did some laundry.
These two guys were there the same time as me. It was crazy trying to speak with them, but somehow or other we managed. I think I left them owing them a beer.
This will give you an idea of the sleeping arrangements in the convent. I think there was a honeymoon suite but I didn’t dare enquire.
After some shopping a few stolen minutes by a river flowing through the town park gave rise to a memory that will forever more be etched into my brain. Try to picture this friends………
…. a free-flowing, swiftly-moving, low-banked river edged with low-hanging trees is set to a melody of sun-kissed silver streaks that grow ever longer, more sharp as the sun sets lower in the sky. Ripples of water run in ever lengthening silver tinsel-like ribbons, they remind me of a Christmas party popper fired in the dark. The trees are dappled with sunlight barely allowing the light through but knowing that ultimately they must. Birds sing, the river muses in a whisper, leaves rustles and as I lay, wondering I can feel my heart beating. It’s one of those moments, I don’t want it to end, but I know it must so I determine to cherish it, hold it dear and love it. Like a fool I try to capture that precious memory in a clumsy, man- made photograph. Here it is.
This is Andrew and Heather from East London, South Africa.
This is Andrew’s shredded feet.
Like many others Andrew has some terrible blisters and believe it or not, he is lucky. Some folks have already gone home or cut short their Camino owing to numerous other walking problems such as tendonitis and shin splints. It seems that at least half the pilgrims have blisters. Which probably helps to explain the high number of farmacias in every town. To be fair, not every one who has foot problems has done something wrong, some folks have just been plain old unlucky.
Dinner tonight was macaroni, chicken, chips and another ice-cream lolly.
Steps today 33153
12 June Carrion de Los Condes to Terradillos de Templarios
Ready to go a 6am and leave amongst other early risers, once again, the first steps of the day are in search of breakfast.
The first hour of walking is pretty much along roads with the monotony of such walking only being chased away by the company you keep, the cheery greetings of pilgrims and other passers-by and the ever-present birdsong. As I walk, for a short while I feel a tinge of sadness as I realise that it is unlikely I will see Alana and Ethan again such is the head start they have on us now.
Oh well, Alana and Ethan if you read this, know that you have a friend in me.
For some reason we have all bunched up today and must look like commuters on our way to work.
We come across a cafe/picnic area after a little more than 2 hours walking. At any other time I would have happily joined the pilgrims who had gathered there but I, for some reason didn’t want to join them. Perhaps it was the cigarette smoke or the music being played, I don’t know. I crossed the track to sit on some bales of hay opposite the cafe. People took photographs of me as I had my toe wiggle.
I watched them watching me. It was all so surreal.
The path took on a consistency to it’s surroundings and feel now. It wasn’t a brilliant walk by any means, just a hot day walking on aching feet.
Some of us elected to follow the original path expecting to be comforted by the shade of trees shogun on the route map. The pen in this photo shows what we expected.
Wrong!!! The path ran alongside the trees not through them. So, what we actually achieved by following the original route was to get a little more breathless because it was a climb, and a little hotter because we climbed closer to the sun.
It wasn’t all bad though. The track quickly started to resemble a bugs version of Route 66 with bugs calling in at these bug-only-diners.
A little later a new diner was under construction.
In a couple of places I could see where the seamstress who sews the fields together with wild flowers had run out of coloured thread.
I think my best day-dream of the day was about the pilgrim version of the car wash.
If you have ever driven your car into a car wash you will know that jets of water and foam are squirted onto both sides and the top of your car. Here is my version of that for pilgrims, I could imagine the jets coming from each of these flower heads.
Still with the car vision then, you will know that the wheels get scrubbed by brushes set aside the car. Here is my pilgrim version of those brushes in my pilgrim wash for the pilgrim’s boots.
Since day one of this physical and mental journey our way has been laid out before us with yellow arrows and each pilgrims searches for the “fletcha Amarillo”. At one point today and not for the first time we didn’t need the yellow arrow. The path itself had turned yellow.
13 June Terradillios de Los Templarios to Calzadilla de Los Hermanillos
As if by mutual consent the entire Albergue of pilgrims was all but ready to go at 6am. It was like a conspiracy unfolding, as if there was some well-hidden secret to shared by those open enough to receive.
We step into the warm gloom of early morning. Birds are throwing the dawn chorus into a still air and their song seems to resonate everywhere, it’s ridiculously beautiful to listen to.
The moon is still on its wane slightly to our left and high enough still to illuminate a scene that mere words cannot describe. Trust me when I say no photograph, no lyric, no poem and no painting could truly capture the emotion of this morning. Everyone agrees on one thing, the beauty of the moment we are in. I heard at least nine different languages, most of which I cannot understand fully say one word that is universal. “Beautiful”. Not for the first time in these last few days I shed tears no one else saw.
Later today I was take the route of the original path. That would take me far away from all but a few, like-minded fools who suffer a long, hot, tiresome, energy-sapping walk that seemed endless in the unprotected glare of the sun. This what it felt like.
My reward is a night in an Albergue that can best be described as very basic and no bigger than a garden shed I once built. Yet there are twenty two people sharing it and we have 2 showers, 2 toilets ( side by side) and about 6 inches between bunks.
Even with me losing weight it really is a tight squeeze. Which reminds me. This photo so of me belt. The pen shows where I wore it at the start of this walk. The coin shows where I am now. My trousers are falling down, my underpants look like a badly fitting baby nappy. I am frightened to walk across cattle grids in cSe I slip down them. It’s not as if I am not eating guys, I am eating twice as much as I normally would.
Here are some more snaps from the last couple of days.
Steps today 37601
Bye for now folks.