Wednesday, May 23rd, 28 kms… 18 miles… rain!
After a great night sleep, I awoke ready to go and excited for the day! What will it hold for me? On the Camino every morning is exciting. Same walk, new experiences.
Wait, shouldn’t that be the same for you no matter where you are! To wake up and be excited for the day, to enjoy the day and every moment! This is a lesson taught as you walk the Camino, being present and enjoying every experience even the unpleasant ones.
You know what they say after you do something for 30 days it can become a habit. Well after walking for 35 days, I can say this lesson I brought home and is a habit!
Enjoy! Be present, be aware of the moment and enjoy each and every one!
As we ate our light breakfast, we looked at the guide book to see what the day looked like. Long, 28 kms. If we walk longer today, tomorrow will be a shorter day.
We had a choice, we could have back to back 15–16-mile days, or we could have one long day and one short day. Again, we work well as a group and made the choice. The Latter of the two. Perfect plan!
Long and interesting that would be today. The entire first part was going to be a climb, we were going to go from 750m to 1100m, with a nice peak. The forest stretch is where it gets interesting. This stretch of 12kms would have no food or water options. Not a problem, there is a town at the base. We will make a quick stop at the grocery store. This way we could have a picnic at the top of the mountain. It showed on the map that there were picnic tables near the top. Perfect plan!
We decided before we left to call ahead and reserve some beds. Since it was going to be a long day we didn’t want to worry about a bed.
Only 7 beds please! Yes, mission accomplished. Beds will be held until 4.
Enough talking, let’s get walking.
We left at 7:15 and hit the road. Rain was in the forecast, so I made sure to have my jacket and backpack cover easily accessible. It was a cool morning with clouds, a perfect way to start the day.
We all seemed to be in good spirits. Lots of singing and just enjoying the landscape all around us. We kept seeing new faces.
On the Camino, when you see new faces you look at their shoes. The shoes say everything. Dirty shoes say they have been walking and our paths are just now crossing. If the shoes are new, they are new pilgrims along the Camino. It doesn’t matter just something interesting to see. To know someones story, of course, kindness is given to everyone.
Usually you see the same faces. Rest days, short days and long days shuffle the pilgrims. It’s always fun to see new faces and make new friends.
The first part of the day was pretty easy. It was a gradual climb and you really didn’t notice it. The big incline will be after we stop to get our lunch at the grocery store.
Mid Morning Break
We were about to arrive into Villambistia, which was 8 kms from our beginning point, our place to take a break. In front of us on the trail we saw a couple. The guy was carrying a different kind of backpack. What is he carrying? As we talked about it, we started to walk faster. We all wanted to know what he was carrying. As we got closer, we saw it. He had a child backpack and was carrying a baby.
What? This couple is carrying a baby in a backpack! This is amazing!
We ended up walking next to them and started to chat. Their names were Jacob, Marybeth and the little guy was Damien. Damien, I think was 9 months old. As we kept talking, we learned that they were walking with their family. I think they had 5 or 6 family members with them. They had started in Lourdes France. I thought Wow! How awesome is that! We made a joke about how everyone was taking their pictures and that Jacob was actually Damiens pack mule on the Camino. See, some people do the Camino with a pack mule.
We arrived into Villambistia and the café was closed. They did have picnic tables outside the church. Which was nice. We were able to sit down and have a light snack. Its always nice to rest the feet. It was a short and sweet break. No bathroom break, I guess I will have to wait. Only 6 kms to the grocery store, I got this.
Mountain and Picnic
We arrived into Villafranca Montes de Oca and navigated our way to safety and into the grocery. This town is small and the road is narrow. The grocery store was on one side and a café on the other, the highway that ran through this town must have been a main road for semi-trucks. Every car and truck came through that town fast. To make it even harder to cross, there was a curve right in the road. Needless to say, you had to be careful crossing the road.
We purchased our food and started the fun climb. The rain had held off all day. Let’s just hope it holds off a little longer. We were all getting hungry and just wanted to get up the hill and get to the picnic tables.
As we were climbing the hill, it started to sprinkle. No, please hold off! It kept starting and stopping, it was just teasing us. Maybe there will be shelters by the picnic tables. As we arrived to the picnic tables, the light sprinkle had returned. No shelter.
Only one option here, sit down and eat in the rain.
You guessed it we all sat down and had our lunch in the rain. We weren’t singing in the rain, we were eating in the rain. And don’t you know it, yes we were singing that song.
Muddy logging road
As we were eating, the rain started to get a little harder. We decided we better start walking. Nobody likes soggy Oreos!
We got to the top and started down the other side. We all were hoping for an easier path which we didn’t receive. It was flatter.
But … It was a slippery mess. It was red clay, deep and muddy. Squish, squish, squish is all you could hear. With each step you could feel the mud hitting the back of your legs.
The puddles were getting deeper. Navigating our way along the path, zigzagging, back and forth trying to make it as easy as possible. The water was flowing and little rivers were forming. It was a muddy lake in places.
The grass looked like a good choice. Wrong. Your feet would sink and get more wet. Back to the muddy logging road.
No escaping this mess, so all you could do was walk.
As the rain picked up and our spirits were getting washed away, we spotted an oasis up ahead with refreshments. It was under trees and they had an umbrella. Let’s get out of the rain, we were wet from head to toe.
The next town, San Juan de Ortega, was 4 miles away. Since it was still raining and it’s hard to enjoy a break when you are still getting wet, we decided to move on. All of us just wanted to get out of the rain, the muddy path and onto pavement.
As we arrived into San Juan de Ortega, the rain had stopped and we were able to sit down. We had a short break here and took inventory of the group. This is where most pilgrims were stopping.
As we sat on the benches outside a few of us changed our socks. It’s not good to walk in wet socks. The discussion continued, should we stay or should we go? How did everyone feel? We had 4 kms if we kept going. Minhs blisters were hurting him and we wanted to make sure he wanted to keep going.
This town of San Juan de Ortega consisted of a monastery hostel, church and restaurant. So much history in this town, but today was not the time to explore. I did get a chance to run into the church for a few quiet moments, which was nice.
We talked and made our decision. Let’s keep going!
The first 2 kms were good. Spirits were high but then it started to fade. You could see it in everyone. As we continued through the farmlands, we passed a labyrinth. I wanted to stop but I was just too tired. My Camino was my labyrinth.
As we topped a hill there it was. The most beautiful sight. The town of Ages. We had made it. Let’s get out of these wet dirty clothes.
Hostel: Albergue La Taberna de Ages, 36 beds, 10 euros
We checked into the hostel; it was really nice. It was one big room with 36 beds. We saw a bunch of our pilgrim friends, some that we hadn’t seen in days. It was nice to see the familiar faces again. Due to the hostel being above a restaurant and bar, we decided to just eat dinner at the restaurant. The good thing about the Camino is the meals are reasonable. Yes, it’s always cheaper to cook your meals but tonight we would enjoy a pilgrim meal. These meals consisted of soup or salad, main dish, desert, vino or water and bread. Usually priced at 9-11euros. Not bad for all that plus usually the Vino is refilled and they never stop it from coming!
After our usual shower and laundry, we went down to the restaurant and had some tapas and played some cards. All I remember is we laughed. We laughed hard and had a great time.
As we were sitting there, Jacob and Marybeth came in with their parents and part of the family. So, we met Jacob’s parents, Michele and Harry and their daughter Emma. Emma, I think was 8 yrs old. Yes, you heard me 8. This family was walking with an 8 yr old and a toddler. Can you tell I was impressed? I loved it! What an experience to have with your family.
After our dinner and fun, we hit the sack. We were all tired and ready to lay down. Tomorrow will be nice day only a 19kms, a 12-mile day.
12 miles is a cake walk along the Camino!
Wednesday, May 23rd, 28 kms… 18 miles. Rain
Last night we made a plan to walk to Ages. So, we would have a short-day walking into Burgos.
When we left there was a chance of rain. We had a picnic today in the rain. It was so much fun. I want to remember this day. When life gives you, lemons make lemonade. This lesson on the Camino is great, just enjoying every single moment. Loving the present and seeing the good in everyone.
By the end of the day, we were tired but happy with our decision. It always feels good after you push yourself. I think the Camino also shows me that we can do anything we want to do. Remember that one!
Walking with strangers and not being in charge is great. It’s also great because you are not just doing what you want but working as a group and respecting each other. Being humble within the group.
Another Camino lesson, be humble.