Day 15: Sahagún – Reliegos: 19.5 miles
Saturday, September 24, 2016: Departed: 7:20am, Arrived 3:00pm
After a day of being sick and feeling bad, we both slept a solid night’s sleep, and probably could have slept in more, but decided to make an early start so as to avoid more walking during the hotter afternoon hours. We ate our breakfast of miscellaneous snacks and were on our way as it was starting to get light out. I am so happy that we, especially me, were feeling better. I am definitely still sick with a cold and congested, but I was over the hump of the initial stuffy headache and general awful feeling, such that other than needing to blow my nose here and there, I felt good and could walk without the headache distraction.
Kim and I both discussed our feelings about the Camino during this current stretch – how it was starting to feel more like a chore (“just keep moving and get it done”) than the privilege that it is. Apart from going through a spell of sickness, I imagine that many other pilgrims are feeling the same during these middle stretches. The scenery is flat and bland, the villages are not nearly as charming and manicured as the ones in the first week in Basque country, and the Camino is flanking highways with little shelter. Fortunately, today’s stage, the flanking highway is little used by cars, and they have planted trees along the whole stretch of the Camino to provide some shade. Also fortunately, the days have been nearly perfect – with cold overnights and highs in the mid-70’s, and no rain. I think it would be very brutal to walk these stretches we’ve done over the last several days during hot summer. So, in these seemingly dull, long stretches over the plains, we look little surprises to make the day special, and remind us to be grateful to to be where we are.
We chose for our sleep town Reliegos, and the Gil Albergue – small and clean. After showering, we took naps and walked the small town. We got a drink at Elvis’s bar, which had an anti-establishment vibe. We ate the pilgrim’s menu at our Albergue and invited Jorge to join us. There’s certain people that we’ve come to know without talking to. After several days, you see their faces in the albergues, on the street, and the cafes, and in passing on the Camino and you realize that they are walking roughly the same pace, so finally you stop and ask their name. Like several people we’ve encountered, when we first see them alone, they come across as cold or indifferent on their own path, but after crossing paths over several days, there seems to be a softening and an unspoken camaraderie, and when we finally break the ice and talk to them, you find they are friendly and kind and very interesting. Such is the case with Jorge, a big guy who people may assume toughness, but is gentle and curious. He is also from Mexico, which I enjoyed learning. To my great surprise, I have met very few people from Spanish-speaking America. There are lots and lots of Brazilians, perhaps due to their famous author Paolo Coehlo who wrote about the Camino, but hardly any people of the old Spanish colonies in the New World: for example Mexico, Argentina, Colombia, etc. So, it was good to meet Jorge, not just to break the silence of passing glances from town to town, but to share in some “Americano” camaraderie and learn another fascinating story of what brought them to be on the Camino with you.