Camino Day 13 - Sun 9/6/02:
Bercianos del Real Camino

51 (!!!) km today
425.5 total
Halfway there...

Wow! In my knackered condition, I wouldn't have believed it possible to walk 51km in a day. It started nicely, with a cloudless sky, but it was windy and cold. My right ankle was nicely swollen due to something I must have done while farting around in Carrión de los Condes yesterday.
Set out at 6:45, quite painful, but I was still walking fairly quickly (wish I knew why!) Arrived Calzadilla de la Cueva (17 km further on) at 9:35 and had a coffee. Passed through hamlets of Santa María de las Tiendas (St. Mary of the Shops? Hmmm...) and Teradillos de los Templarios. After these, it was 11 km of plain -- very flat and no shelter; I passed everyone I saw so as to get far enough ahead of people in order to take a leak!

San Zoilo Monastery Entrance

morning, Carrión de los Condes (65K)

Entering village

Calzadilla de la Cueva (40K)

en route to Sahagún
Guess what I was doing ;-) (35K)


through the haze (40K)

En route to Sahagún, I stopped at the first tree I saw to rest in its shade and have a home-made chorizo bocadillo. Coincidentally, this was around the half-way point on the camino (at least that section of it between Roncesvalles and Santiago de Compostella.) Just as I was leaving, a Valencian named Cándido caught up and we walked along. Despite his lack of English and my utterly abysmal Spanish, we got on very well. He's 59, on his eighth camino, which he does every year in 2 weeks (!!) He doesn't walk particularly fast, he walks long: he stops for dinner at 2, and then does another 10-15 kms. We eventually arrived at Sahagún, my original destination (some 39kms from where I started out in Carrión de los Condes.) The albergue was closed until 5, and since it was now 2:30, we split up, me to wait, he to have dinner and continue walking. After ten minutes of waiting in the shade of the entrance to the refugio, I decided I was hungry too, went to the same restaurant, and had dinner with him. (Cepas and a main course of pigs ear stew, reminiscent of the capparones I'd had in Grañón.) With a bottle of wine between us, of course.

Maybe it was the wine, I decided I'd be better off joining him walking to Bercianos del Real Camino (some 11 km further on.) So we set off.

Cándido outside refugio/monastery

Sahagún (62K)

Me outside refugio/monastery

Sahagún (52K)

Arco de San Benito

Sahagún (56K)

My swollen ankle

with Hikers Friend (tm) (33K)

It took us 2 and a half hours at Cándido's pace, which suited me just fine (though he was probably slowing down to suit me!). We arrived at 6ish, eventually finding the rather odd albergue. Had a shower; my right ankle was badly swollen (see pic.) Three of us -- a woman from Barcelona, Cándido and myself are sharing a small room: it turns out that C. snores like a train! Following his advice, I rubbed my legs with alcohol de Romero, which smells like Vicks Vapour Rub (which is used here in the Ireland and the UK to relieve nasal congestion, etc.; speaking of which, I'd seen some Spanish pilgrims rubbing Vicks on their legs, which surprised me...). He also suggested keeping my feet levitated while sleeping to bring down the swelling.

The hosts, a very kind religious couple, provided a lovely meal (whose simple primero, fresh tomatoes quartered and mixed in a bowl with roughly chopped garlic and olive oil and let to stand for an hour or so, will stay with me forever. I still recall mopping up the delicious oily residue with fresh crusty bread.) After the meal, the hosts gave a speech and a very nice Spanish girl, translated what the hosts were saying into English for the benefit of pagans like me. It was basically a sermon, a treatise on the religious reasons behind doing a pilgrimage. There were group hugs, etc., and the hosts expressed the wish that we think of everyone in the room when we finally reached Santiago.

Cándido and myself had coffee at one of the two local bars (the one not frequented by the religious hosts ;-); C. struck up a conversation with an old local who remembered playing handball in C.'s home town in Valencia. On the way back to the refugio, he showed us a square where he played handball as a youth: a wide alleyway which happened to be bordered on three sides by the gable ends of houses. God knows what the inhabitants thought of the *thwok*s every time the ball hit...

And so to sleep. Out like a light.