Camino de Santiago Day Eighteen: Fromista to Carrion de Condes Faith

17 04 2018

Despite the initial stench of the room at the municipal the air cleared and we were able to get a restful sleep. I was terrified to get down from the bunk in the morning with wobbly legs but did ok and we went next door to the Bar San Martin for a quick breakfast. We were excited to hit the road a little earlier and to see our long shadows leading us along.

I have to say my foot and right toe hurt quite a bit. It seemed like it was just not right in the shoe no matter what I did. Incredibly though once I’d take about 30 steps I could tune it out and ignore it but if I stopped at all it hurt again. Luckily there was really no where to stop. We passed by a new Albergue that we think would have been a good stop maybe instead of the municipal.

The path started along the highway then gave us an option for an alternate route alongside farmland which was pretty, but no towns save Villavieco and it’s abandoned playground and bar.

An old man pulled up to us in his car to give us candy in Villamentero. We stopped after about three and a half hours in Villacazar de Sirga for a rest.

We set out again for Carrion Des Condes and happened upon a woman from Germany we had yet to see. Quickly our paces all matched and the next stretch all the way to the town went so fast! She’d stayed there before as in this very stretch had an injury that was almost insurmountable requiring her to stay here for four days to heal at the Albergue run by the Hijas de San Vincente de Paul, nuns. It was of course where Suzy and I had already sent her bag. We had such a great and emotional talk and are so glad to have made a connection with someone who has so much spirit! Her name is Jessie. It’s funny because we were just asking for some more stories of why people were here more inspiration… we’d found some people maybe weren’t ready to share and others didn’t know, so it felt like we were meant to connect at just that moment.

The nuns checked us in, the first we met was named Guadalupe she told me when I showed her the Virgen de Guadalupe necklace in my pouch. We were presented with a Virgin Mary pendant and the cost to stay is 5 Euros! That place is airy and bright and spotless although they’re doing a lot of construction outside. All the beds are on one level if the high ceilinged rooms, formerly a girl’s school. I showered and dealt with some more toe surgery… seems like my nail is raised and split and causing the problems. I’m cautiously optimistic that I’ve cut off enough nail and skin to fix it.

We all settled in and then set out to get some food, I’d really been craving Gambas a La Plancha and of course the universe provides and we found an amazing place with Gambones and Langoustinas, bothbtranslated on the menu as “prawns”…so we got both although surprisingly the Langoustinas were the smaller ones. They were a bit more salty and the Gambones a bit sweeter and more meaty. Both delicious! Then onto the well equipped grocery in town to stock up on snacks. We were warned that this next stretch has absolutely nothing (no water, food, facilities) for 17.2 miles.

A group of us decided to go to mass, only to find that there are at least five churches in the town. We got directions from another church worker and headed up through the town. I’m the only one of this group to really speak Spanish but at times it seems like more than that… I honestly feel like I’ve been in these towns before. I never feel lost.

We made it there not too far into the mass and as soon as it was done lights were put out and the pastor immediately departed. We wondered about the etiquette again, Jessie went right after the pastor to ask if we could receive a special pilgrim blessing. For some reason it made me cry when the father blessed us.

Back at the Albergue we gathered our clothes that had been drying on the line and set out our fun foods on the table for our snacking pilgrim feast. Everyone shared and other pilgrims even gave us extra wine they didn’t need. Friedrich and Sina are staying here too which is nice. There’s also a girl stuck here now two days so far with shin splints. This seems to be a good place to be “stuck” though.

At 10 they locked us in and at 10:15 the nuns came and put us to bed shutting out the lights. I feel like a Spanish version of Madeleine here in these rows of beds with the nuns caring for us so sweetly.

“Good night little girls! Thank the Lord you are well, now go to sleep.” Said Miss Clavel.

-Ludwig Bemelmans

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Camino de Santiago Day Seventeen: Itero de la Vega to Fromista Patience

17 04 2018

When we woke up today we both were still exhausted. These last 16 days have been no joke and while other pilgrims have been spending time to recuperate our “slow” days are 15 miles! So today we decided to walk much closer, only to Fromista, to get ourselves back on the right track since the next few legs are big and have very few cities in between. We didn’t want to get stuck in the same situation as yesterday with a not so big town with few beds.

We got good news that Heino is on the mend and thinks he can restart the Camino soon. He bussed back to Hornillos we are hoping to cross paths with him again and we are also hopeful he doesn’t overdo it.

We ran into the guy from Holland on the way out of Itero de la Vega and the mangey white cat was there to say goodbye. We had no options for breakfast so we just started walking. Another Meseta lesson… we packed our extra food so we’d have something just in case… a good idea.

Out of Itero de l Vega there is a long track that heads to the next town Boadilla. We joked and called it Breakfast town, then as the hours went on it became Bocadilla like the word for sandwich because despite leaving Itero de la Vega at 9 we didn’t reach Boadilla until 11:15. We were excited to get a coffee and some eggs or just a sandwich and it looked like a good sign that the stray cats in this town were better cared for.

I met a horse and we headed to a little bar Tita and they had no food no eggs luckily some coffee and only two lame little sandwiches sitting on the counter. What kind of sandwich town is this?!??

We dove into our snack bag and finished off the meat and cheese.

Not much other reason to hang around we set out and started walking a very long flat path to Fromista alongside the Canal Castillo. The path is sandy and steady and generally easy but seems to go on forever. Luckily we were distracted by a flash of brown weaseling across the road. I thought there’d be no way to catch up to it but saw a rustle in the grass and there it was! It was some sort of ermine, mink, ferret who knows but it was laying in the grass with its head hidden as if it thought that if it couldn’t see us we would not see him. I tried getting out a hazelnut but it wasn’t interested in it. But it did then come writhing out of the grass closer to us. As I tried to get in to take a photo I gave Suzy one of my poles… just in case. I could envision the creature who looked so harmless lurching out of the weeds and attaching to my neck. Suzy would be grasping for the tail as it went for my jugular… but luckily that didn’t happen. We watched him for a while cleaning his fur, he was super cute and an entertaining diversion on the boring road.

On along the canal which was pretty and we got to the dam/dike at the entry to Fromista. Over the narrow bridge and onward.

Fromista was cute but smaller than expected. When we got in we found the Municipal Albergue, Suzy opted to ship the bag there so we could go wherever. It wasn’t open yet so we had some lunch at the Hotel San Martin. I had some delicious calamares fritos and a glass of Montecillo Rioja. We decided to just go ahead and stay at the municipal, the woman there was so nice, Carmen, and it was 9 Euro and the bag was there so… it seemed clean enough. She also had some incense burning which was soothing.

It was siesta time so the grocers were closed but I was able to get some cash. I headed back to the Albergue to shower up and there was really only two bathroom stalls and two showers and the showers had very little space to change so I had my clothes over the top of the door and on a windowsill and had my towel around me and reached out one by one for my clothing. There were also two urinals in this coed space which was a little awkward, not exactly what I want next to me while brushing my teeth. There was a lot of testosterone up in that place only three women in our room of 12 beds… and it seems some men just think it’s fine to just let it all hang out in these places. Some clearly didn’t realize that there was a coed situation going on in the bathroom as Suzy went in to use the toilet only to find a half naked man there in the doorway looking at himself in the mirror.

Anyway I got clean and took a brief nap after a precarious climb onto the top bunk. It was cold as there is no heat this time of year, and the windows were open in the rooms, but they did have a wood stove going in a room where you can hang out and eat. We were able to get more snacks at the grocer later. We left our laundry with Carmen, for 9 Euros she washed and dried our stuff leaving just a few light weight items for us to dry on the line. I was so grateful as my stuff was filthy. The black pants were stiff with mud and the magic shirt was losing its magic… we headed into town for dinner and ran into Sina and Friedrich who were eating at a cute spot. We went in and had an amazing meal, a rack of pork ribs with potatoes, wine, bottled water and dessert for 10 Euro.

Back at the ranch our clothes were in a basket in a room filled with people, the communal room was toasty and comfortable but people were in little cliques it wasn’t the same camaraderie as we’d felt before. We folded our laundry and it felt so good to have clean things.

Upon re-entering the room we were struck by an intense odor of well I don’t even want to speculate. It was not traditional BO, feet, perhaps, just so gross. But we both scrambled up into our beds and made the best of it dabbing some of my essential oil on my wrists to offset the intensity. I slept well, not a ton of snoring and gassiness despite the number of men… and it was warm enough in my silk sleep sack with puffy blanket. Getting (climbing) down from the top bunk was stressful. This morning we had to be out at 8am… at 7:30 the manager came in to clean which consisted of shaking out the mattresses, smoothing the bedsheets around the mattresses and fluffing the pillows. Nothing changed out… just an FYI!

Onward we march across the Meseta!