Camino de Santiago Day Twelve: Santo Domingo de Calzada to Belorado

12 04 2018

Did you ever have that feeling as a kid… you’d been swimming so much and so long and so hard that it was hard to come up for air… and you had that breathless feeling? I imagine the opposite feeling of a fish out of water… waterlogged and desperate for air. That’s me tonight. Sometimes you’d have that “swimmy” feeling for a long time after getting out of the water… I cannot shake a similar feeling tonight and I broke down into tears… finally, and cannot stop sobbing. I feel like I’m waterlogged in tears. The reality of all the things I’d left undone came crashing down on me tonight. No doubt mitigated by countless factors… extreme exhaustion, homesickness, much more, but the tears keep streaming. Thankfully Suzy insisted on sponsoring a nicer private room after yesterday’s melee. Today didn’t even seem so bad… it’s just like that out here I guess… every minute in the Camino is its own thing…

The day started out innocently enough, oh wait, well actually no… at 10 pm sharp the night before st the “barracks” of Santo Domingo the lights were out and wifi went dark too. There were few power outlets as well. I barely leapt onto the top bunk when they shut us in. I was actually afraid to brush my teeth. The reveille started by the rooster at exactly 4:45. It just so happens that the back courtyard of the Albergue houses some chickens and the “extra” roosters for the church rooster display. He crowed about ten times. Then I was able to fall asleep again… until either he or another rooster started up at about 6. It was still pitch black at seven when we were all told we should be up, and the very dim room lights went on. As is custom everyone started rushing around except a few of us, and then the manager even came in to check to be sure we were all upright. We got ourselves sorted pretty fast as we prepped the night before but it was hectic. Downstairs I tried to take one for the team and grab the boots out of the smelly boot room for me and Suzy but I got in trouble and we had to put our boots on inside that room that had housed close to 100 pairs of wet and soggy footwear for a night. It felt like drill sergeants were herding us out and about to scream at us and at any moment I anticipated I’d here, “Pilgrim! What’s your major malfunction!” Later we learned some pilgrims did get yelled at…”Vamos!!” “Go!” and “Peregrinos Fuera!” “Pilgrims get out!!” It was stressful. When we spoke to Suzy’s sister yesterday and described the scene and the Camino she said, “The walking I could do, I can walk, I just don’t want that many people in my oxygen!” In a nutshell that’s what it was like. Just let’s say it was no vacation. If that doesn’t sound good for you consider staying in Granon the next town.

We stood outside feeling like we had been kicked to the curb a bit disoriented honestly. We wanted coffee and breakfast but were hoping to find a new bar but didn’t find one as we walked on past the cathedral. Finally at the edge of town we opted to just keep on going. We went on about an hour and a half and found a great coffee place across from the church in Granon but unfortunately all the pilgrims from Santo Domingo were there at the same time. We patiently lined up and waited and luckily most of them downed their coffees and continued their mad dash down the road. We expect some are trying to make good time or do extra miles but otherwise don’t really understand the rush. I finished up my blog we had time to relax and as they streamed out the vibe of the cafe really came alive. The owner played really great music, first some fun jazzy stuff and then some Natalie Simone and Leonard Cohen and as we were regrouping to head out it Cat Stevens’ Father & Son came on and the whole bar started singing. We were invited by the owners to play the guitars but we were too tired but we got a great pilgrim stamp (sello) that the owner’s brother had designed. His artwork was on the walls. Great food, great energy and if we had just rushed on through we would have missed it. Her brothers’ instagram is @mywayfrances if you want to follow him.

We plodded on and it had grown very cold. The rain held for the most part as we walked down wide track mostly close to the highway. It was nice to have created some distance from the main pack of pilgrims and we settled into our own rhythm. The track wasn’t hard but just a bit boring and tedious. In Redecilla del Camino there wasn’t much to eat or drink, really small town and so we went on hoping to find something in Viloria de Rioja so we could stop for a break (seems we are weaving along the border between two regions Rioja and Castilla y Leon.)

Immediately upon entering the town we found an adorable little stop, a local artisan has set up a shop and rest stop in her kitchen. You can stop and warm up around the wood burning stove that is heating the room, the owner will make you some food or you can just grab an egg or an orange, a coffee, beer or wine. The place has a great feeling complete with the homey atmosphere and the exposed wood beams and concrete slab floor. There’s even a pilgrim Take it or Leave it pile where you can ditch stuff knowing if will be used by another pilgrim or maybe find something you need. There are also 16 beds upstairs if you’d like to stay in this town. We purchased some of her bracelets that she makes over the slow season.

We relaxed here for awhile and then forced ourselves back into the cold, a really rude awakening after our cozy interlude. Snow was on the hills. Now he wind was whipping at us and pushing us around. We joked that if Suzy wasn’t careful one of the gusts, which were exacerbated but the huge trucks rushing by, would pick her up and carry her all the way back to Logrono!

We were lucky that it wasn’t raining but the wind was cold and raw. My pashmina was of course stuffed deep in my bag, so we kept on.

In the next small town Villamayor del Rio there was really nothing, no shops, no industry. Tiny quiet little place but we did see a woman buying her weekly groceries from a mobile food truck. We’d seen him a few towns back, he must move town to town to sell groceries to these small towns that are so far from any type of market.

We got to Beldorado and our hotel was the very first one so we didn’t really have the energy to explore the town. The private room we got was luxurious to us, just having some space away from all the humanity of it…and it had the most amazing shower with all kinds of jets! A quiet dinner and some chatting with some German pilgrims we met at the singalong in Santo Domingo and it was back to the room… to do work on my taxes. Reality comes seeping into the Camino, you cannot just walk away from life. It’s very hard to be here dealing with issues at home but that’s what I have to do. There are not really any Internet cafes here, no where to really get online other than my phone. Yesterday I tried to save on my phone by turning it off but wifi is spotty so that was a frustration in itself as well. Finances are always stressful but more so when you aren’t working and are on this road doing what you know in your heart you were meant to do but not yet knowing WHY you are here. Explaining to folks from work and home that this is not really some vacation is hard. Not feeling guilty for leaving your home and your family is hard. My body is hard, and lean but also tired. I ate a banana today which I hate but I know I’ve got to get rid of these nighttime pains and cramps in my legs. I have a tiny blister on my little toe. Ok it’s as big as the little toe, but I didn’t know it was there until I took my boot off. The road is uncomfortable it takes you out of your comfort zone mentally and physically. I can only imagine that this is a critical point where you shed old paradigms and enter stage two of the walk.

I’m one third of the way there. I’ve walked more than 167 miles in 12 days. I have 512 km to go to make it to Santiago. The weather has not been kind lately, but I have faith I’ll make it and make it through the hills and valleys.

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