Camino Postcard 23: Valverde to San Martin del Camino

3.5.19
Before writing this post, I consulted my journal to remind myself of what happened today. My entry is eight lines long and was written nine days after the event.

Unfortunately, it is the beginning of the end for my journal, for after catching up with the entries from 3rd to 9th May, I stopped writing it. We arrived in Santiago on 16th May so the last week’s blog posts will have to be written from memory and using Instagram, which I managed to update for the duration of the Camino.

***

Today, we took our leave of Valverde and set off down the road (side). We walked for just under three hours before arriving in San Martin del Camino where we decided to stop.

The journey to San Martin was unspectacular – our path was sandwiched between the road and fields with hardly any variation. I don’t say this from memory but the witness of my photographs. After the first few days of the Camino, I started to take more and more; the only days when I didn’t was if the path was monotonous. Today, I only took 15 photos, relatively few for me, so that tells me that there wasn’t much to see. The storks in the photograph below were an exception. It was always heart raising to see them in their nests, built on tall ruins or atop churches.

I regret very much not keeping up with my journal – I’m pretty sure that when we set out, we didn’t intend to stop at San Martin but I can’t remember where our original destination was meant to be: Hospital del Orbigo and Santibanez de Valdeigleisia are in my mind but why?

Actually, Santibanez is where we walked to tomorrow so that’s probably why – did we mean to go there today, though, but were waylaid by illness or the heat?

The weather was very hot and when we arrived in San Martin, the albergue had a little swimming pool. Unfortunately, it was too early in the year to use it.

Not to worry, quoth I, a shower will do.

Yeeeah. About the shower. Naturally, you would expect the men’s and women’s showers to be behind closed doors. At this albergue, though, there were no doors. Once you stepped out of the shower unit, anyone walking down the corridor could see you. While this was not ideal, there was – at least – room in the shower to hang one’s towel and clothes up away from the shower tap and so dry off and get dressed before stepping out into full view of passers-by.

If the albergue showers were a bit of a let down, the albergue cat was not. He wandered about at will and was happy to accept strokes from Ellena. Our dorm was a small one with four bunk beds, all of which were taken. We thought we would have trouble with one woman who had starey eyes and asked with a bit too much purpose if the lights would come on at six o’clock tomorrow morning but in the end she didn’t turn them on and left before everyone else with admirable quietness.

The only other thing of note to happen today is that I ran out of money. Ellena and I went in search of a cash machine in San Martin but found nothing. The Camino is a cash economy so I was very fortunate that Ellena paid for me until I was able to refund her – either directly or, as usually happened, by paying for things for her.

Oh yes, I just remembered one other thing: Ellena thought she lost her I.D. card (or was it her pilgrim’s passport?); either way, a frantic search followed that led to the miscreant’s discovery. I can’t tell you how scary it was whenever you couldn’t find your passport (or I.D.) or credencial. In different ways, losing them were potential Camino killers. I mislaid my wallet and pilgrim’s passport once or twice and had my heart in my mouth until I found them again.

Camino Postcard 22: León to Valverde

2.5.19
On our way out of León, we met a tired pilgrim. Despite his condition, he was kind enough to pose for a photograph with Ellena and Carolin,

I asked him if he liked any sports, and to my surprise he said he was a fan of cricket. Who wouldn’t be? The pilgrim took my hat:

As for León, it took us into Trabajo del Camino. Here, we passed through an ugly industrial estate and on into La Virgen del Camino. In La Vergen, I had to stop due to back ache on my left side; actually, the muscles there were stiffening up, making turning my back a little awkward. Ellena once more proved her quality (just like Faramir) and lightened my load by taking my sleeping bag.

You would be forgiven for thinking that the loss of a sleeping bag would not change things very much as it is very light but on this day it really did make the difference. Mine was not one of those light sleeping bags that some pilgrims carry. My back would not get better again until I came home (and no longer had to carry a backpack) but while it would never be quite well again, so’s to speak, I was able to manage it – and carry the sleeping bag.

It was another hot day as we passed a bunch of cyclists taking a drinks break. We met a Canadian man who was walking the Camino with his wife. Alas, she wasn’t with him – injury had forced her to take a bus to their next destination. Fortunately, though, she would get better and we’d meet them both not long after leaving Sarria. We also met an excited group of guard dogs, and their altogether calmer mother; Ellena made friends with one of the dogs who licked her happily.

How did they get up there?

Presently, we came to an albergue just outside Valverde. It was on the side of the road but had a lovely garden with hammocks, a round table and even a bed. Inside, the dining-living room was very rustic and homely. This albergue was on the more expensive end of the scale, being 10 or 15 euros to stay at but the bed was comfortable, the food was good, and at the end of lunch and tea, they gave us shots. Shots!

Did I say shots?

not even remotely sorry

At lunch I had a grappa. Pure joy. In the evening, I gave my liver a break and had one of the gentler spirits.

Ha – ‘giving my liver a break’ – drinks another shot.

Anyway, at one of the meals I happened to say that I had finished drinking alcohol and was ‘going back to agua’. Ellena and Carolin started laughing. Why? Why?? They told me to think about about what I had said. I repeated it to myself slowly. Nope. I could find no puns. But they had – Ellena thought I had said I was going ‘back to viagra‘.

wut

someone doth
too much

I am a strong, confident man; I do not need viagra.

protest

In the afternoon, we enjoyed a nice rest in the hammocks. I hung my clothes up to dry and tried to walk across pebbles in bare feet. Ouch! A quick retreat followed. In the evening, we retired to the dorm. One poor pilgrim would sleep in the living room that night due to a nasty cough that she had acquired.