CAMINO– DAY 15

CASTROJEREZ to FROMISTA  — 16.6 Miles

After a fairly good nights sleep I woke up knowing that today would be horrible.  I knew there was going to be a huge mountain to climb shortly after I started out.  On the topography map it looked like an upward spike on an EKG. Ugly!  My legs were so sore that I knew I’d have to take it more easily, but this mountain!  I decided to skip breakfast because I was anxious to get started and get this mountain over and done with.  Dick and I said our goodbyes and he chose not to walk me up the street.  It was a long way out of this 900 person town.

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As I was passing by this fountain I was getting annoyed because there was another Trekker behind me and all I could hear were his obnoxious trekking poles going click clack, click clack on the cobble stone road.  As I approached other Trekkers it was even worse because they all had poles.  That constant click clack sound was more than I could take.  So I walked fast and passed them all so I could have some peace and quiet.  I could see the mountain looming ahead of me and knew it was almost 3000 feet high.  The good thing was that the path didn’t go straight up, it went at an angle.  See it snaking across the mountain?

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It was a good 2 miles before I reached it’s base and started the upward climb.  I decided all I had to do was take 20 steps, then rest, then take another 20 steps and rest and on and on.  And that’s what I did.  The funny thing was, all the while I was doing that I couldn’t catch my breathe, my heart was pounding in my ears, I wanted to rip my backpack off and all the Trekkers with those dang poles were passing me!  I finally made it to the top and there was a little rest area there but it sounded like someone was throwing up behind it so I snapped a couple of quick photos and walked on.

View from the top. The town where I started was just beside that mountain in the distance.

This is the view from the top.  Castrojerez, the town where I started is way off in the distance at the foot of that little mountain.

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I started going down the other side and it was really steep even though it doesn’t look like it in the photo.  It had been paved with cement and I had to take small steps and walk pretty slowly.

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A little farther up the path I stopped at a rest area for a 5 minute break and to eat some trail mix.

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The path had leveled out and I was surrounded by lush green farmland.  I was feeling pretty good by this time because I knew I’d conquered “Mt Everest” and I was still alive!

After I’d walked about 6 miles I was needing a longer rest and some lady standing in the middle of the road gave me a flyer advertising a Bar (restaurant) just up the road so I decided I’d stop there for a coffee.  I entered the little village and was going to look for the Bar but I came to a fork in the road and didn’t know which way to go.  Just then a woman came up behind me and said she saw a little arrow going left.  We immediately started talking and realized we walked at the same speed.  She had short gray hair, was from Australia and her name was Debbie.  She was so funny and so interesting that when we came to the little Bar where I wanted to stop, I passed it right up so I could keep walking with her.  Debbie had 7 children, a knee replacement and was doing the Camino for the second time.  She was with her husband and daughter, and they all walked at different speeds and therefore didn’t walk together.  Each day they had their bags shipped to the next stop so they only carried day packs.  We laughed and talked for the next 8 miles and the time flew by.  We stopped for a cafe con leche and not long after we sat down Debbie’s husband walked in.  We chatted for a while and then we all got back to walking.

Just before reaching Fromista we came upon an 18th Century Canal with a little system of locks.  Back then it was designed to provide transportation of crops and power to turn the corn mills.  Today it is simply used for irrigation.

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When we entered Fromista there was Dick sitting in the car at the side of the road.  He knew I wouldn’t be able to find our hotel.  I said good bye to Debbie and Dick drove me a few blocks down a different road to our hotel.  I was immediately sorry I hadn’t gotten any contact information from her.

We checked into the Hostal Camino de Santiago which was another restored old place with darling rooms.

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I had to admit that I had really overdone it today.  My upper legs and hips were so sore it hurt to walk.  But we did go out to explore this little town and stop for drinks.

Later we were walking around again, looking for a place to eat dinner when I heard someone calling my name.  It was Debbie.  She and her husband and daughter were all sitting outside at a little cafe.  We were so elated to see each other again and the first thing I did was to get her contact info and tell her I hoped we would run into each other again on the Camino.

And by the way, when I walked all those miles with Debbie she used trekking poles the whole time!

 

TREKKING — DAY 14

HORNILLOS to CASTROJEREZ — 13.6 Miles

Last night I slept until midnight and was then wide awake until 4a.m. I knew it was supposed to rain today and that made me nervous.  Around 2 a.m. I heard it start, rain falling steadily against the large skylight in the room.  Now I had something to worry about.  I’d have to get out all my rain gear, my shoes would get wet, I’d have to walk slowly, the path would be muddy and I’d get cold and wet.

By the time I woke up the rain had stopped, the sky was partly cloudy and it was 38 degrees.  OK, I could do this.  We went downstairs for breakfast and I was disappointed.  It was cafe con leche, 2 pieces of toast and two croissants, with butter and jam — not my kind of meal.  I had a few sips of coffee and some toast and was off.

It was so cold that I had to put on my fleece gloves and knitted headband.  Dick walked with me for the first couple of blocks and then returned to the warmth of the hotel.  The path started out with 3 miles of kind of steep uphill which was not good for me.  Downhill rules but uphill kills me.  The road was pretty muddy in parts but I was always able to walk around it.

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Eventually the path leveled out, only to go downhill then uphill again.

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I was walking at a pace that was way too fast and I knew I’d pay for it later.  The last few miles of the path leveled out and followed a highway with a couple of interesting sites along the way.

 

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Finally I could see Castrojerez in the distance but knew it was still about 2 miles away.

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I stopped to take a rest break — my first of the day — when I received a text from Dick wanting to know where I was.  He was still on the road, running some errands and I texted him that I would be in Castrojerez in about 30 minutes.  Then when I read the text which had been auto corrected it said I’d be in “Castro Harry’s” in 30 minutes.  I didn’t correct it because Castrojerez is pronounced “Castro Harry’s” in Spanish!  I stopped at the side of the road and had a good laugh about it.

Just as I entered town I knew I was lost in terms of finding our hotel.  This was a larger village with 900 inhabitants and it didn’t have just one main street.  I walked on a little farther and then just stood in the middle of the little one land road wondering what I should do.  A car was coming toward me so I moved off to the side and it started honking at me.  And then I realized it was Dick!  What perfect timing.  They say the Camino “always provides.”  I hopped in the car and we drove to the hotel which was only a couple of blocks away.

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This place, the La Cachava Hotel was hundreds of years old and beautifully restored.  Our room was again on the 3rd floor with 4 beds and an upstairs.

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As soon as we got into the room I knew I needed to sit down — all my muscles were hurting because I had walked too far, too fast.  And anyway Dick was eager to tell me about his adventures this morning.

And here’s what happened to Dick this morning after I left:  I had asked him to do one simple thing — buy me a pair of reading glasses because mine had broken.  Of course they didn’t have any in this little town so he planned to drive back to Burgos to get them.  And that’s when the problems began.  First of all he couldn’t find his car keys.  After searching the entire room and other parts of the hostel he emptied out his backpack and found them at the bottom.   Then he went out to the car and the battery was dead!  So he asked the proprietor if he had any jumper cables.  And of course he didn’t but he was kind enough to go up and down the street asking everyone in this 60 person town if they had any.  No one did.  Really?  Really??  So the only solution was to call a mechanic.  One and a half hours and 15 Euros later Dick was finally on his way to Burgos.  More problems — he didn’t know what kind of store would sell reading glasses in Spain.  He went to store after store, including pharmacies, but couldn’t find anyone who spoke English and he couldn’t speak Spanish.  He finally found his way to a Carrfour grocery store, bought the glasses and arrived back in Castrojerez (Castro Harry’s) just as I was lost and standing in the middle of the street.  He needed a couple glasses of wine after that one!

The good news about today was that it didn’t rain.  But my leg muscles were now so sore I could hardly move.  So I spent the afternoon showering and soaking in a nice warm tub.  I promised that tomorrow I’d treat myself like the Pampered Pilgrim I should be.  I’d eat, drink and take plenty of rest breaks.  Well, we’ll see what happens…