Last night I had dinner with the only two other guests in my albergue at La Cantero, a German (66) and an Italian (65) both of whom had retired last year and were busy enjoying their freedom. Although we didn’t have a single language in common I could understand some of the Italian from Spanish, but mostly from the amount he waved his arms around and talked about the Mafia. The German had a smattering of Spanish and less arm waving but I got the jist of some of it. The Italian had walked the Camino before. He cautioned against going on to Finisterre because there are far fewer places to stop after Santiago so unless I am happy walking a minimum of 30km per day with my pack, I shouldn’t attempt it. When I looked at the route more carefully I realised he was completely correct. It’s quite a challenging thought.
With only 3 of us there, and no snorers, I had a very good night and as the bathrooms were segregated I had a bathroom to myself! Total luxury. It enabled me to have a space to myself to stretch in this morning. I think the reason my ankle and shin are so painful is because there was nowhere to stretch after the hard walk from Pamplona. I seize up too easily at my age, and I am determined not to let that happen again if I can possibly avoid it.
As I left this morning it began to rain. By Cirauqui, 2km down the road, I was already struggling but, thank god, this place was alive and there was a chemist open. I left with an ankle support on, which made things a little better so long as I kept going at my steady, but slow pace. As I was going at such a moderate tempo, I had to moderate my head singing – which gives me walking rhythm. Favourite rock songs gave way to hymns, which made me realise that I only knew the words to the first verse of any of them, apart from Jerusalem which only has two verses to start with!
I saw France’s distinctive water bottle on the wall of a bridge in front of me. It’s a plastic Fanta bottle wrapped in 3 layers of tin foil, then 3 layers of newspaper, a decorative layer and then clear thick selotape. She found the “recipe” in a book and it’s brilliant, her water is really cold all day even if the bottle is in the sun. Like me, France was struggling with blisters but hers were on her heel, so she was trying to walk in crocs which was very difficult on slippery steep gravel paths. We shared some of my dried mango. Today, Mercadona dried mango kept me going, it’s delicious, I’m hoping I find another Mercadona soon so I can restock.
After staggering up the hill to Lorca I stopped for lunch and about 20 minutes later France arrived and joined me. She had left the group of Germans she had been walking with because it made doing her own thing too difficult. Also, as she was the only one of the group who spoke any other languages, she was always being asked to translate when they were unhappy about food or beds, which wasn’t a great role to take on. We talked about why we had decided to do this, and what we were learning from this intense “walking meditation”. I admitted I needed to become less of a control freak and act more with my heart than my head.
I left France with every intention of staggering on to Ayegui or, at least Estella. Five kilometers before Estella I was already half dead. As I entered Villatuerta a sign pointed to somewhere called albergue Casa Magica. Whether it was due to getting a bit spiritual from all the hymns I had been head singing (so as not to scare other pilgrims!), or the chat I had with France at lunch, I decided to see if I could stop there. A thick wooden door swung open to the scent of incense. A hand poured me a glass of the sweetest cold water. Yes they had a bed … that’s a BED, no bunks! Dinner would be at 7.30, but this was a vegetarian establishment, anyone who wanted meat could eat at the other places in the village. There was a yoga session at 6 if I fancied it. I am in heaven! As I put my pack down in the hallway, outside it began to pour with rain.