Camino Postcard 20: Moratinos to Calzada del Coto

30.4.19
Day Eight on the Meseta

This morning we walked along the roadside and came across a possibly fake quotation from Socrates (below).

Further on, we met two doggos taking a stroll down the road – literally. It’s a good job it was empty. One was Very Large and the other Moderately So. Very Large Doggo was mum, and Moderately So her son.

If I remember correctly, mum had an injury – unfortunately, I can’t remember if it was a current or past one; hopefully, Ellena will mention it on her blog here.

If you have read the previous entries in this series, you will know that Ellena understands the language of dogs. She was able, therefore, to gain mother dog’s trust and pet her.

After enjoying Ellena’s company for a few minutes the dogs moved on to – who knows where? Hopefully nowhere near the work men that were shooing them on just before they joined us. Spain is a funny country like that: she loves her canines but we saw quite a few strays and injured dogs along the way.

Speaking of the dogs, just as they joined us, we were passed by another pilgrim who had a dog phobia. She used us as a shield before moving swiftly on! If only she had watched Ellena, though, she would have seen that if you treat dogs in the right way, there is really nothing to worry about.

***

Today, we reached the official halfway point of the Camino Francés – Sahagun. We entered the city in the company of another pilgrim who cleared up the question of whether or not river water is safe to drink: in short, no; it may have been polluted by animals. It’s a good job I didn’t give in to temptation on the Valcarlos route. If I had walked the Napoleon route, however, and eaten the snow, that would have been fine.

Statue on the way into Sahagun (there was another like it behind me)

In Sahagun we made our way to the Monasterio y Museo de Santa Cruz where we received our halfway compostelas (below). We had to pay a few euros for these but given the quality of the ink and paper it seemed a fair deal.

What to say about the monasterio y museo? We saw much of the latter but little of the former. The church was entirely given over to the exhibition within; I assumed then, and believe now, that it must have been deconsecrated.

As for the exhibition – it was a real curate’s egg. I imagine there are people who would have been impressed by the indictment of Man’s behaviour in the full-on photographs of people around the world suffering from man made and natural disasters, and the mummified body, and contemporary art but I wasn’t. There were old books on display which were nice to look at but on the whole I was glad to leave the place.

We left Sahagun and made our way down a roadside path out of town. It was another hot day. As a result, we only walked a few more kilometres to Calzada del Coto. Here, we stayed at a donativo albergue. This meant that there was no set price for our beds but just what we could afford to give. I took the opportunity to get rid of all my spare change, which amounted to five or six euros.

Bull fighting mementos in the bar where we ate dinner

There was one dorm, which was stuffed to the rafters with bunk beds. My bed was very stiff, which raised fears in me that it would hurt my back (when I was 18, I visited my relatives in Canada and we had to cut short a visit to a friend’s house there after their stiff bed hurt my back so badly after one night). Fortunately, however, all would be well this time round.

I slept on the bottom bunk, underneath a woman who couldn’t stop moving and then told us to shh later on. I made sure I spoke louder for a few minutes after that.

Camino Postcard 19: Calzadilla de la Cueza to Moratinos

29.4.19
Day Seven on the Meseta

For a few kilometres after leaving Calzadilla de la Cueza today, we were silent pilgrims. Perhaps Ellena was still feeling the effects of last night’s pain. As she was the glue that held the group together, we were fractured without her.

We kept walking. ln my journal, I have noted that although we were still on the meseta the path was a bit more varied than yesterday. I then spoil the effect somewhat by adding ‘Well, there were a couple of elevations, anyway’. Insert facepalming emoji here.

We came to a little town named Ledigos. There, we saw a sign that said ‘373,870 Kms a Santiago’. After what seemed a very long time, we were now less than 400 kilometres away from our ultimate destination! This knowledge was a great psychological boost. And what it also meant was that we were now definitely over half-way there. Sahagun may be the official half-way point, but we had now walked over half of the Camino.

We stopped at a café for breakfast. Not long after our arrival, Colleen walked in, as did Tony – he had stayed behind at Calzadilla this morning to tend to his blistered foot.

After we left Ledigos, the group spread out. Ellena walked ahead with Tony. I tried to keep up with them but could not. My leg was feeling better after yesterday but was not up to matching Tony’s pace. I remembered some wise advice that Colleen had given me about walking the Camino at my own pace and started to do just that. The day immediately got better.

Along the way, I saw an albergue named after Jacques de Morlay, the last Grand Master of the Templar Knights. As well as winning (and losing) the Holy Land, the Templars also provided places of refuge and rest for pilgrims to Santiago so he has a good place in my books.

Carolin and I also saw a cat on the prowl, which was a very neat sight.

As we walked, we also saw a very strange sight – doors appearing in the side of mounds. What were these – hobbit holes?

A concrete path took us into Moratinos. Embedded in it were, of course, paw prints. A lovely, funny sight!

Ahead of us and to the left, at the bottom of the incline was our albergue. Well, not ours yet – we neither owned nor had pre-booked it – but it was the one where we would soon decide to stay for the rest of the day and overnight. Ahead of us and to the right was a hill with more doors running around their side.

Fortunately, they did not look evil (moor doors > Mordors > Mordor – geddit? I’m here all week)

After checking in and relaxing with a beer, Ellena and I investigated the hill more closely. Here is the sign we saw:

We both laughed. I was, and remain, impressed at the extent of Tolkien’s cultural influence.

During the course of the afternoon, we met up with Lillian again. Tony, who had walked with us from Ledigos, decided to keep going. The albergue dorm was very small – there were just three bunk beds in our room. As Moratinos was not the end of the stage, relatively few pilgrims stayed here overnight; as a result, Ellena, Carolin and I almost had the room to ourselves. The only other person to share it with us was Lillian.

Today, I received good news from home – my friend E. who suffered two serious bouts of bad health last year sent me a text to say that he had just received a promotion. He is a police officer, and had to sit the promotion exam just after the second bout, when I and others were telling him to forget about it and relax. After spending all summer revising? he said, No way! I was ever so pleased for him as he is a natural police officer and the Met need people like him as high up as possible.

Back at Moratinos, Carolin and I ate dinner while Ellena rested – she was not feeling well enough to eat a full meal; we took her something to eat and drink later. As Carolin was not a confident English speaker, and I couldn’t speak German, we used Google Translate to speak to each other. It was every bit as cheesy as you might think but funny all the same.