Camino de Santiago Day Twenty-One Burgo de Ranero to Arcahueja Stamina (Three Weeks Walking)

20 04 2018

I hit the bed like a rock last night, Suzy said I was speaking a combo of German and Spanish or maybe just an alien language in my sleep, but it was comfortable. It was one of those nights I literally fell into bed, but come morning I enjoyed a hot shower and spreading my clothes all over the room and while Suzy was eating breakfast I was able to dress freely without having to shimmy into clothes in a wet shower stall. Really luxurious actually!

Suzy noticed a bunch of pilgrims getting into an air conditioned coach bus clearly to bypass this next leg, but reinvigorated by a coffee we began our journey onward. There were hardly any pilgrims along the long “senda” or pilgrim track parallel to the road but we felt a lighter energy than the day before. We saw plenty of birds in including a huge stork.

The weather was better today, less hot and with an almost constant breeze. We had a great stop at Reliegos at Bar Gil II for a beer and some churros and the owner also gave us some slices of the best “tortilla” that I’ve had so far. “Tortilla” is the frittata like egg cake most bars make with potatoes and egg. This one was lighter and had maybe some leek or onion in it.

We had another quick stop in Mansilla de las Mulas where we enjoyed some time in the gorgeous grass at a neat place called Le Jardin. With our beers we were presented two more delicious tapas, jamon, chorizo and cheese on bread. We ran into Nessie and later our Aussie vineyard owner and another guy we’d seen a lot of on the trails, a great town but we couldn’t stay as Suzy’s bag was being delivered to Arcahueja (we hoped!)

It was basically another day of “Nothing to see here” but our spirits were high, our energy strong and we kept on going. Not much to see save a very grand bridge and then a terrible stretch going through Villarente right on the road amidst gas stations, repair stations and small strip malls.

Finally we escaped the chaos of the busy road winding up through a park and into the hills to Arcahueja.

Around a bend as I was losing momentum Suzy was first to spot the herd, they were Merino sheep! She’d done some research on them. The wool they provide of course is like gold to a pilgrim. It wicks away moisture, resists water, dries quickly and amazingly doesn’t smell… and is not itchy! My favorite items are my 100% Merino wool socks and what I like to call my magic shirt, a long-sleeved Merino wool shirt, all made by Smartwool (and no they haven’t sponsored me to say that). Apparently these sheep were so prized for their special wool that they were carefully guarded. In fact in Spain before the 18th century exporting of Merino sheep was a crime punishable by death, so the Spaniards had a monopoly on the industry for many years. The shepherd confirmed for Suzy that she was right, these sheep were Merino and definitely not for consumption. They gave us the boost we needed to get up the hill to our comfortable Albergue La Torre. We took advantage of the bed plus pilgrims dinner and breakfast option for 20 Euros and had a great dinner with two female pilgrims from Holland and Germany. In fact the German lives in Umbria, Italy and runs a hotel there so plans were started for a spring 2019 visit to Italy. We played them a few songs and then off to bed where I’m now finishing my blog. Lots of snoring tonight.

Today was another big day. 18.7 miles. Yesterday was 19.1 in the heat. I’m not sure about the next walk but I think we need to keep eating these miles up to make it on time so I can fly home from Barcelona. We have come so far but there’s so much left to go!

I’m still here for 15 days and at times I’m just want to fly home. It’s hard being away from your comfort zone for so long, from your people and your life. From creature comforts like having your own bed, clean clothes and privacy. Hooks for towels, toilet paper and soap, things like this become luxury items.

One of the ladies last night was considering stopping in Leon. This is her third and final leg of the Camino completing the whole trip but pshe was going to go to Santiago a second time. She too is homesick. After we wrapped up our songs, finished the wine she said, “I’ve just decided to keep going.”

This is a long haul. I will keep on and we will make it to Santiago de Compostela.

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Camino de Santiago Day Twenty Teradillos de Templarios to Burgo de Ranero Perserverence

20 04 2018

The rustle started early in our room of four with headlamps or maybe even a camping light involved. There was a huge plasticky sound like perhaps something being pushed through that metallic stuff through one of those plastic blister packs like a medication, but it was almost ear splitting to me at 6:30am.

We lay there waiting for them to leave and crept out of bed once the litany of spitting, hacking, coughing and other unmentionable sounds ceased their eruption from the bathroom next door.

After a coffee and a banana we eased on down the road. The weather was perfect, just a soft slightly up and down road with actual turns! Vistas and towns opened up to us, so refreshing after the featureless landscape yesterday.

Sadly we got word from Heino that after a day of trying to walk he woke up both literally and physically to the realization that he cannot continue and began making his exit plans to return to Germany. We shed some tears in the first mile of the walk thinking of what a brightly burning positive energy he has. Funny that the only time we really walked together was on the way into Burgos. Heino wanted to go right at the fork along the industrial route and we opted to go left along the river route. We said “See you later!” Truly we believed we would as the Camino tends to reconnect you with the people you need to be connected to… but now I’m not as sure. I hope somehow our paths will cross again and he’ll always hold a special spot in my heart, but how realistic is it to think that we’d actually see each other again in the real world. But who knows, it’s really a metaphor for life people cross paths, maybe walk together for awhile and then take different courses. Anyway our thoughts go out to Heino and we hope he realizes this is not a failure just a setback.

Our walk was a little more interesting as it went through a few cute towns. One town had adorable sweaters knit around the trees in the square. We tried to manifest seeing a bird we haven’t seen before, maybe a condor or a cuckoo (we’ve heard so many but they’re elusive), by saying that we were going to see a new bird and soon we came across a tiny tree planted for Reverend Wren who passed away on The Way…

We came across some cool cellars called monasterios that are built into the mountains initially used to cellar wine.

On the way to San Nicolas del Real Camino we saw a sign for The 2nd Bar saying it was cool so we went there and sat outside the really cute bar. It had a John Deere sign inside and was playing an amazing music list you can find on Spotify at flip220 called Mananas. It was like a mix of alt country and Middle Eastern beats totally bizarre but so cool. We had a fresh squeezed orange juice (zumo de naranja) and I don’t understand why we don’t have these machines in every cafe in the U.S. As we were leaving the town we saw a barn filled with John Deere tractors seems maybe the guy was the local Deere repairman as he was tinkering away on one with his dog nearby.

There have been many questions about my John Deere hat, and sadly no I am not sponsored by the company but hey if they’re interested have them contact me! I’ve always loved farms and farm stuff. Carhaart jackets and The John Deere logo. My great grandfather “Pop” had a farm in Factoryville, PA and I loved the old wooden structures, hay bales all of it. Later in life I wrote a song about him although my Great Aunt Connie, his daughter, upon listening said she liked the song but that Pop was more “Fancy man” than farmer. Still I just dig farms. Bought a John Deere t-shirt last time I got to go to the cowboy/feed store place in Richland, WA, so… so this summer my friend gave my his John Deere hat in exchange for The Hungry Minnow hat I gave him. So I love this hat. I had to decide which hat to bring and at the last minute this was he one. He had my back all summer helping me not lose my mind at the restaurant and helping out however he could. He has also had my back quite literally due to his Boy Scout training by helping me fit my backpack properly. I have to say it didn’t feel so good at first but learning that he pack needs to sit on the hips and the waist needs to be cinched is vital. This is so important as your hips need to carry the weight not your back or you’ll inadvertently do damage to your back. I can feel that it’s right and see the bruises on my hips showing that my core is carrying the weight. So anyway long story, love the logo, love the hat and grateful it has been shading me these hot days.

So as the day languished on our energy FB became less. We stopped for a light lunch but it was so hot we weren’t very hungry. We tried to stay up and hydrated but the heat or maybe also the long “senda” or track along the road was draining our energy. There was no singing, no joking, no dancing after tractor town. Each section seemed to go on forever with no purpose. Ugh. We stopped briefly in Bercianos for a drink and more water and then on basically stopping every 20 minutes if we could find a teeny bit of shade. There was hardly any.

Finally at our destination a town where a lot of tractors seemed to be stopped, Burgo de Ranero. Well, no room at the Albergue Domenico Laffi. We’d read that the other two albergues were “filthy” on Trip Advisor so I began to panic… oh and also Suzy’s bag did not arrive. I zipped into Albergue de Pelegrino and they had a simple room with a bath and two beds for 45 Euro, seemed pricey but I was terrified we would not get anything and we literally couldn’t walk another step. Luckily the place is great. I was healed with a glass of Verdejo and the bartender gave me a piece of tortilla (eggs with potato) and a tapa of jamon for free. We enjoyed a fabulous dinner for 11 Euro including wine and the family that runs the place is super sweet. We even ran into our friend who was a bit overzealous talking about ethanol having no flavor the other night and he apologized in case he was boorish. He’s a great guy and we enjoyed chatting with him again. Suzy is hoping the bag will be delivered today at our next destination!

The pain and heat and length of today and all the trials and tribulations made me think about my life. I’m very lucky to have it easy. People are living with chronic pain out there and I cannot imagine how hard that must be. I know someone who has the best attitude about that, they take each day as a gift and instead of wallowing in sadness make the effort to be happy because what is the alternative? I also knew someone living in chronic pain who made the terrible choice to end his life. He was that same kind of person. He never let anyone see his pain. These people I have known too many… and whether that pain is mental or physical sometimes we cannot see it. Today my intention is to walk for those that are hurting without letting the world see. I pray that they can find some relief.