Camino Postcard 18: Carrión de los Condes to Calzadilla de la Cueza

28.4.19
Day Six on the Meseta

This was a tough day to walk, and is a tough day to talk about. The two key words for it are sore and monotonous.

I was sore; or rather, my right leg was. I should have taken ibuprofen for it but didn’t. That was a mistake and robbed me of such enjoyment as I could have taken from the monotonous walk.

So, about that. The path cut a straight line through the fields of the meseta. As far as I remember, deviations only occurred when it sometimes dipped or rose according to the contours of the land.

With all that said, however, the morning – for we arrived in Calzadilla de la Cueza around midday – was not without its charm.

As we walked through Carrión at the start of the day, we stopped for a quick second breakfast. We ate doughnuts that we had bought yesterday. This led to much posing like Kate Winslet in Titanic on the sitting stones nearby.

Won’t you draw me like one of your French pilgrims

mmmm you sexy beast.

Ahem.

Moving swiftly on – one reason we bought the doughnuts was to insure ourselves against failure to find anywhere to eat later on. Fortunately, however, we found two cafés along the meseta path. One was a van-café, and the other a stand next to a crumbly shed. We stopped here.

While we ate, Ellena played with a dog the size of a very big dog that I would never have dreamed of going near in case it bit my whole leg off. She, of course, had no fear about playing with this mighty beast. And no wonder, it was very well behaved and frankly a bit of a goofball.

As you can see from the photograph above, we saw mountains in the distance today. Well, not just today, but anyway – Someone asked us if they were the Pyrenees. Woe to us if they had been as it would have meant that we had managed to walk in a circle over the last two weeks.

It’s funny, though, how – in the absence of a map – our sense of place can suffer so badly. Did you know that when Alexander the Great was in Afghanistan, he thought he was not far from Europe?

But let me not laugh at the person who thought these mountains were the Pyrenees as I have to admit I have no idea what this mountain range is called. Please leave a comment if you know.

We left the lovely, goofy Huge Dog behind and continued walking – straight on, under the sun, no cover, drinking our water,

slog

slog

slog

until we walked over a crest and saw a hamlet ahead of us – Calzadilla de la Cueza. It was a blessed sight.

Calzadilla ahoy

Two albergues greeted us as soon as we entered the hamlet. We picked one, dumped our backpacks and joined our friends outside for a beer.

Later on, a photograph was taken of me sleeping. I look very silly in it – yes, even more than normal, thank you for saying – and so the photograph has been deposited in a bank vault for all eternity. I took a photograph of Lillian and Tony looking like mafiosi. It’s one of my favourite Camino pictures as you could not meet two more unmafiosi like people. What can I say, but that I like a cheeky juxtaposition from time to time.

Our albergue didn’t make meals so in the evening we all descended upon a hotel dining room to eat. I met Colleen from Montana again, who rescued me on the first day with a bottle of water, and Alex from Bavaria who I think I also met that day with another German fellow – the latter had since left his company. One pilgrim went missing halfway through their meal, never to be seen again (that night, anyway, and only by me, as far as I remember) and the rest of us had a very pleasant time. Well, to a point (Lord Copper): Ellena was struck by pain later on and another part of my dodgy front tooth broke off today. The larger part of it remained intact but would the rest survive the rest of the pilgrimage? (Narrator: Yes, it did).

Wait. What. How did this get here???

Camino Postcard 17: Población de Campos to Carrión de los Condes

27.4.19
Day Five on the Meseta

We left La Finca behind and began walking. It was another hot day, and Población was another sleepy Spanish town. Spaniards simply do not do mornings.

Further up the road, we stopped at a café-albergue that promised ‘Paradise Without WiFi’. I’d love to be able to speak approvingly of this, of how good it was to be freed from the chains of communication but I’m neither a hipster or a hippie and love my WiFi so can’t.

This café-albergue was certainly a paradise for hippies and hipsters – it has very ramshackle, had a farm attached (I saw some cute asses there; now let’s talk about the donkeys frnarrrrrr) and the rooms were tents. They weren’t called tents but had a particular hippy name that I can’t remember.

Anyway, it was also a very friendly environment. Inside the café itself, pilgrims were encouraged to leave messages on the side of the counter or on the wall. Many had done so. So did I. I could have written an appropriately inspirational message but instead chose to write something facetious about Alexander the Great that nobody but me would understand and which thankfully I forgot to photograph.

While at the café, we met George from Seattle. He was in good spirits despite the fact that his husband had given up on the Camino and returned home – walking was not for him.

Tony had left La Finca ahead of us so at this point, and indeed until we arrived in Carrión, it was just Ellena, Carolin and myself together.

We left Paradise Without WiFi and continued up the road. The Meseta continued to roll by. Our path took us along the roadside and we saw a sign saying ‘Santiago 464 [km]’ which meant that we had now walked about half distance from St Jean Pied de Port to Santiago. As I think I mentioned before, despite being called the French Route, the start of this particular Way is regarded by the Spanish as being at Roncesvalles, which meant that we would not receive our halfway compostelas until we arrived in the town of Sahagun in three days time.

Upon a moment we arrived in Carrión de los Condes, and there we checked in at an albergue in a former (?) covent. The dorms at the Espiritu Santo were named after the continents and contained single beds – no bunks again, which sore legs greatly appreciated. I slept under a beautiful wood icon of Our Lady (below), which more than made up for the cheesier Catholic artworks in the vicinity.

To its credit, the Espiritu Santo had a chapel, although it was no more than an altar and cushions. However, the Blessed Sacrament was reserved there, which immediately made it the most important place in the building.

After ditching our backpacks and showering down, we went out for a beer. I lost over a stone walking the Camino yet still drank beer every day. No wonder I enjoyed myself so much.

To celebrate the fact that we had, or were about to, walk half distance we took a stroll into town to buy a congratulatory present for ourselves. Ellena and Carolin chose matching bracelets. I bought the necklace that you can see below in imitation of the one that Martin Sheen’s character wears at the end of The Way.

While in Carrión we met Tony again. On his recommendation, we ate tea/dinner at a fish restaurant. On the way there, he had to make a pitstop at the local pharmacy to get help for his poor blistered foot. Tony is a powerful walker but it’s amazing that he could walk at all on that foot. The blister was huge and, of course, open.

Afterwards, we strolled happily back to the Espiritu Santo. In the large courtyard there we met a certain someone smoking a joint. Well, I suppose a religious house is a place for ecstasies.