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Camino de Santiago, Day 23: Castrojeriz to Villarmentero de Campos

Camino de Santiago

Camino de Santiago

Before 7 AM

Today was the first time in my life that I’ve been awoken by the sound of a children’s church choir. it wasn’t live but playing from a stereo in the corner of the freezing cold stone room of the donativo.

Quick coffee and biscuits with the three other guests (two young Spanish guys and an older Norwegian man) and back to the room to pack up.  The Spanish guys, Jorge and Juan, talked with me last night.  They told me I will cry when I get to Santiago. They told me I  must always eat octopus with white wine or I will get sick and they told me what town to stop in for the best cheese.  They are completing the Camino by bike and both have previously done parts of it walking.  Juan lives close to Santiago, so he knows his destination. While packing, they were playing “Brown Eyed Girl” on their

While packing, they were playing “Brown Eyed Girl” on their iPad.  A comforting reminder of home.

The Trail

The trail immediately started climbing outside of town.  And up it went for twenty minutes – quite steep – until I had worked up quite a sweat.  And the view from the top was magnificent. I saw a patchwork of wheat fields – some green and some fallow and modern windmills spinning in the distance.  And a little further on, the trail of pilgrims that went down the hill and stretched out for five kilometers to the next town.

On the way, I ran into Darren from South Africa, who I first met on Day One of the Camino and have seen every few days since then.  Darren quit his computer job, never to return, and is like me considering his next career. We shared some of the stuff we were going through (people are more revealing on the Camino).  Darren is a smart, funny guy and a good listener.

We reached a small ancient hospital and while peeing (in separate stalls) we simultaneously announced how awesome it is to pee.  I swear, on the Camino the little things become very sweet.  Even the relief of peeing.  Darren wanted his credentials (the “proof” of walking the Camino is an accordion style booklet which you get stamped at towns you walk through or stay in) stamped.  Some people are stamp collectors and want EVERY stamp.  I usually just get the stamp from the town I stay in.

I took a break for a coffee and a gorgeous man from Montreal asked if I would put lipstick on and kiss his credentials – is this how pilgrims come on to each other?  I declined.  No lipstick.

Darren’s shin started acting up so he decided to stay in the next town. I had a beer with lemonade and kept walking. I had stuff on my mind.  And my feet didn’t hurt too bad.

Much later, I ran into Annalise from Norway for a second time.  She was sitting beside the road resting a sore leg. Today is her 67 birthday. She is as tiny as a bird and has a fitting high sing-songy voice.  As per Camino magic, she said the perfect thing to me at the perfect time.  I asked her if she was psychic and she nonchalantly started talking about meditating and going into the alpha realm where all knowledge is available.  So, yes. After an hour of chatting and walking, we arrived in Fromista.  She stopped there.  I had a coffee, planning to continue.

Leaving town, I saw Jamie outside a bar surrounded by seven teenage girls who were excitedly talking about Justin Bieber, iPhones, and everything else under the sun- all at once.  It was crazy.  I approached the table and Jamie’s company, an older German man, formerly a mercenary in Afghanistan and now living in Brazil with his young girlfriend, introduced himself.  Eventually, the girls had to leave for afternoon school and there was enough silence for me to tell Jamie I was moving on.

Arriving in Villarmentero de Campos

I kept walking another 9 kilometers.  It was after 6 pm (it stays light out till 10 pm) and I was getting a little concerned about finding a place to stay.  I stumbled upon a village with no more than 10 residents and a hotel!  Truly, in the middle of nowhere.  I asked if I could have dinner and was asked what I wanted. FOUR EGGS, scrambled, poooor fffaaaavvvvooorrr!!!!  That’s all I wanted.  It was heavenly.

Later a Norwegian woman arrived that I’d met earlier in the day.  We shared a glass of wine.  She told me about her conversion to Catholicism as we sat on the ledge of an ancient church beside a grass field as the sun was going down.  Nice.  It sounds like Old McDonald’s farm outside.

She gave me some cream for my feet.  I took a bath! I ripped off all the bandages and slathered my feet with cream.  Hoping for improvement.

A beautiful, long, intense, hard, fun day.  Today I walked 33.9 kilometers (21 miles).

Photos of the Day:

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