TREKKING — DAY 17

CARRION de los CONDES to TERRADILLOS de los TEMPLARIOS — 16.25 Miles

I knew today would be a long day so I wanted to get an early start.  Besides that the books all said there were no services for the first 10 miles — no food, no water, no toilets — nothing.  I stuck a stale cheese and chorizo sandwich in my pocket and told Dick I wouldn’t be having any coffee this morning.  It was 6am so I pulled out my headlamp only to find the batteries were dead.  Luckily Dick had brought extras so he changed them out and I was good to go.  I put on my double fleece jackets, neck scarf, knitted headband, gloves, backpack, camera, phone, fanny pack and plenty of water.

When we stepped out the door at 6:15am it was 34 degrees and pitch dark.  I had no idea which way to go to get to the Camino path so I was glad Dick was with me.  He lead me to where he thought it was but the Camino signs were very poor and we were never sure we were going the right way.  No businesses were open and there wasn’t another Trekker anywhere in sight.  Finally after three quarters of a mile we came to a round-about with a monument and a Camino sign off to the right.

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A quick kiss goodbye and I headed off into the darkness alone.  Needless to say, I was a little spooked.  Where were the other Trekkers?  Why weren’t any of them walking yet?  I was on a one lane flat gravel road with bushes and fields on either side and that also made me a little nervous.  Could someone be hiding in the bushes?  I kept straining my eyes to see as far ahead as I could and I thought I saw a sign that looked like it had some yellow on it.  Or was that a person?  I kept walking thinking I would pass it but it always seemed to stay about 2 blocks ahead of me.  OK that’s got to be a person.  And that person better be a Trekker!  After about 45 minutes it was light enough that I could tell it really was a Trekker.  I kept turning around to see if I could see any Trekkers behind me but I never did.  A few miles farther and I wanted to sit for a bit but there were ice crystals all over these cement tables and benches.

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After I’d walked about 5 miles I saw a car crossing our path about a mile up ahead.  Then it stopped at the side of the road by a big barn and someone dressed in black got out and was standing in the middle of the road.  My antennas went up immediately.  I was still a good half mile away and it was still just that other Trekker and me.  But I kept my eye on that car and that man wondering what he was doing and why.  Now I was getting a little scared.  But the other Trekker was still 2 blocks ahead of me so I thought if that man was out to get us, he’d get the other Trekker first.  As I got a little closer I suddenly thought, “Wait a minute!  OMG!  It can’t be! Is it?  IS IT!?  YES!  That’s Dick standing in the middle of the road!!!  Relief!  He had been following me on “Find my Friends” and had come so I could take a break and sit down in the warm car for a while. 

Just then, off to my right I saw some tables set up and someone was barbecuing.  I turned in, Dick joined me and we had a nice break with barbecued sausage sandwiches and cafe con Leche.  Finally other Trekkers showed up and many of them joined us for a break.

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I felt so refreshed after I got back on the road and there were finally other Trekkers ahead of me.  

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It was such a beautiful day and I decided I’d get out my MP3 player and listen to some music.  The sun was out, the sky was blue, the fields were green and the music really put a spring in my step.  Then the Bruno Mars song came on, “This is gonna be the best day of my life,” and I wanted to throw my arms up in the air and laugh and skip and dance down the road.  I was so filled with emotion I got a big lump in my throat just thinking how lucky I was to be here and to be fulfilling my dream of walking the Camino.  

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I loved being alone and I loved all the music I was listening to.  I was silently mouthing the words to all the songs when I passed by someone and said, “Buen Camino,” and he said “Bonjoir.”  So I asked him how he was, using the only other French I knew.  He spoke just a tiny bit of English but we walked together, with him speaking in half English and half French and me pretending I understood every word he was saying.  One thing I did understand was when he told me he walked 40 kilometers or more each day and I was so impressed.  

We kept up a good pace and came upon a lady using walking sticks and the closer we got the more familiar she seemed to me.  I called out her name and she turned around — it was Debbie, my favorite walking partner.  The three of us walked together for a while, then Frenchie took off ahead of us.  Debbie and I walked, talked and laughed for another 8 miles.  At one point we were passing some other Trekkers who were resting and one of them said, “You two are the happiest Trekkers on this whole Camino.”  

The next village we came upon we decided to take a break.  There were two other women there who Debbie had met previously, Leslie from Britian and Matilda  from Italy.  We all sat around and talked for a while, then Debbie’s husband showed up.  I think he is her guardian angel, just Ike Dick is mine.

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Matilda and Leslie standing.  Me and Debbie sitting.

Debbie and Jim
Debbie and Jim

While we were sitting there Debbie said she hoped I didn’t get offended but she had written in her blog that she had met a really nice American woman named Karen and had fun walking with her.  But afterwards she was so exhausted she had to flop down and couldn’t move for the next half hour!  And I said, “I thought I was keeping pace with you.”  And she said, “Well I thought I was keeping pace with you!”  

We resumed our walk but this time there were a few  uphill climbs so we had to slow it down just a bit.  Finally, after a little over 16 miles we reached our Albergue, where Dick was sitting outside waiting for me.  Debbie continued on because her Albergue was another mile up the road.  And yes, I said Albergue — you know, the place I said I’d never stay — no no, not for me!  Well, this was a nice one.  We had a private room and private bathroom.  They even washed and dried all our clothes for us.  Other people did their own wash and hung it out on the lines to dry.

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We decided to have a small dinner and shared some pasta and salad.  And of course, wine — which we did NOT share!