El Camino, Day 13: to Calzadilla de la Cueza

Day 13: Boadillo del Camino – Calzadilla de la Cueza:  26.2 miles

Thursday,  September 22, 2016:  Departed:  6:30am,  Arrived 5:30pm

img_4413One of the huge things I was looking forward to on the Camino is Serendipity – taking each day as it comes.  Kim and I have largely done that as we have not studied our guide book thoroughly in advance, not strategized the breakdown of our days.  Typically, we’ve looked at the book and its maps the day before and set a tentative target town where we would check in with how one another are doing and decide to stop or continue to the next town.  But the night before, we decided to be truly serendipitous today on the Camino, by refusing to look at the book or maps at all, and just walk, following the sea shells and yellow arrows, not knowing which towns we’d come upon or how far apart they would be, or if they had lodging, or how many beds, or the measure of how far we’d walked.  We trusted the Camino would take care of its own.

It was a good day to play such a game with ourselves, because the entire morning the Camino flanked a highway in long gravel paths in straight lines with no hills.  You could see in front of you and behind you the long stream of pilgrims plodding along.  I think the dullness of the path was enhanced by the mystery of “not knowing” how long it would remain so.  We got snacks in the towns we passed and a 2nd breakfast in Villalcazar, feeling good.  Along the way, we chatted up some other pilgrims.  One of the big questions we ask each other is where you plan to go that day.  We happily said we did not know, but in the course of the discussions, and being asked if we were doing the short or really long day, we got the sense that we were obliviously approaching a critical decision junction for pilgrims.

img_4425As we entered into Carrión de los Cones and had a beer by a flea market, we could tell that it was a larger hub that most pilgrims would choose to stay at, and we had an inkling that it might be a longer than normal trek to the next town.  But we were determined not to consult the book, and feeling good about ourselves, decided to continue down the Camino.  In retrospect, this might have been a mistake, for indeed, the next town would not appear in front of us for another several hours of walking, over 10 miles we figured once we finally stopped and looked at the book to see where and how far we actually went.  It was a longer trek than we bargained for, but I was glad that our bodies were doing well and despite the tiredness, we’re up to the task.  I was also grateful that the Camino during this stretch left the highways and passed through quiet agricultural fields.   Also, though it should have been the heat of the day, it was actually cool and overcast for very pleasant weather.  AND, since we were one of the few pilgrims to make such a daring continuation of their day, the trail was virtually empty of other people.

img_4443The small town we finally arrived upon in small valley in the surrounding agricultural plain is Calzadailla de la Cueza, and the Municipal Albergue there is one of the cleanest we’ve seen.  The joy of having finished off a full day, literally a full marathon, was further enhanced by seeing Mangus and Roxanna, a British-Romanian couple we hit it off with on our 2nd day way back when.  We went and got the pilgrim’s dinner at very nice restaurant nearby.

While our bodies were up to the task of the very long day and I feel like our initial blisters are hardening to reliable callouses, I feel like my body was deferring other effects of fatigue and ailments till I actually finished and sat down to re-nourish myself.  Since a week ago, when I nearly fainted after dinner from likely unknowing de-hydration, I’ve been trying to drink more water, even when I don’t feel thirsty.  I did so today, but at the end of dinner tonight, I began to feel fatigued and disengaged from the conversation.  I could feel a harsh dry spot in my throat which is likely the onset of a cold or sinus infection.  I retired to bed early to get some much needed rest (I’m actually writing this in the middle of the night after waking up, unable to sleep at the moment).  It seems the mystery of the Camino is not just the towns and scenery you pass, but your own body has its surprises and challenges to show you along the way.


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