camino de santiago

Last nights antics went on forever. At the time I was really fecking cross and felt like going down and screaming at the other 58 pilgrims to shut the hell up. It was well gone 11pm totally past lights out and curfew. The sing songs have started. Now, I do love a good sing song as much as the next person. However, when you get a bunch of people together and the only common language is English, sings songs are a nightmare. With great gusto a chorus of “let me entertain you” by Mr Williams would start, half way through it would be come muffled…slowed down to the point of stopping and then someone would sing out “Leeeeet Meeeee Entertaaaain Youuuuuuuuu” and it would start all over again. Many chorus of many songs were sang that night. On.repeat. My particular favourite was “Give it away now” By the Chilli Peppers. I have no idea what words they were yodelling, but at least they had the harmony right! I suspect it was all that €2 wine. I wonder who brought the last of the bottles back to the shop?

Out on the walk this morning I am past weary. I am past pissed off. I don’t know what I am except for freezing cold. Even with my thermal body warmer and uber warm jacket. The temp dropped last night and it hasn’t come back. In my sleeping bag my knees were numb with the cold. I am annoyed because Sean took forever to get his stuff ready this morning. All my peace and serenity of last night is gone. I am no longer zen like and patient. I am a freezing cold furnace of icy RAGE! I plod on, at the breaking of light I see a single poppy. Breath Kate. Rationality slowly returns. I have said it a million times before I am not a morning person. This trip is showing that. I think it would be safer for all concerned if I make no eye contact, wait, no contact of any kind with any species on the planet until at least after 11am. The Poppy. Just a simple flower, a weed to some, has reminded me of all I have to be thankful for. I whisper a thank you to it, as I take the above shot. Huffing and puffy along I say to Sean, we have to stop walking so fast and so far. Its not a competition. I remember what I had been thinking last night. It was now or never. I am surprised at the lump that rises in my throat. I was so sure of this last night, how can I be faltering so much now. I say the worlds over and over in my head, I even say them silently. Eventually they come out as a croke, with tear stained eyes focused on the path below. ” Sean I think we should go home, like in the next few days” I explain that I no longer want to walk what was meant to be six week trip in 28 days or less. I have no doubt that it can be done and we absolutely can do it. Its no way to experience the Camino. Its what its about and it certainly not what I dreamed of and signed up for. We should go home and come back. I have broken out in a sweat. I cannot believe I got the words out. Each one kills me. With each sentence my heart pounds. I feel like its trapped and screaming inside. Screaming at my brain to stop talking such nonsense, this is not at all what it wants. STOP! My brain is being logical of course and has ignored my hearts please. It seems Sean too has been thinking last night. He replies that we should continue walking until at least next saturday ( one week) and see how we feel then. See how far we have gotten. I agree.

There is our Korean friend. In fact this is the dad of the family of Koreans. He was unreal. He passed us out so many times.

You may have noticed a diversion in the diary entry. What was said next is a bit too personal to share with all you lovely people. Somethings shared between couples are not for general consumption. Lets just say, there comes a point in the camino, I guess in life too, when you lay out all your cards and tell the one you love your most deep down honest thoughts. You hang that white washing out and you take all the bird poop that falls. In my case I am better at writing words that saying them, so on round one it came out of my mouth arseways. A long open and honest conversation ensues. Its a long walk, a hard one. In the end its a refreshing one that ends in a nod, a hug and a massive feeling of respect.

We get to Santo Domingo de Calzada early, like ten in the morning. On our way in there is a tall man walking against us. A very strange sight indeed. He speaks to us in Spanish and it’s clear that he has lost something. When he sees we clearly still don’t speak spanish he explains in his mellow Canadian accent that he has lost his friends, had we seen them. They had been walking together and he had gone on ahead. He was worried that there had been an accident. We haven’t seen his friends but promise we will keep an eye out. We find out that we have missed yet another street party. We ask in the tourist office when the next one is and we are chuckled at. That was it, come back next September. Taking a load off we have breakfast and watch the last of the hardcore partiers head home as a procession of people playing instruments walk past in the opposite direction. Every one is still in party mode. We decide that we won’t stay here. Its beautiful and would need more than a day’s exploring. We’ll holiday back here. The next ten kilometres or so sees us falling around the path with childish jokes and hysterics. I laugh until I until i have to hold my sides or sit down.

An extremely long day passes. Two of the places we had planned to stay don’t have any beds, not because they are full, but because they don’t have an albergue any more. One town we get to has an inhabitancy of like 15 people!!!

I saw this sign and keeled over with laughter. Then I realised it was a sticker of a mouse. Not a real sign. At this point we are dragging our legs and striped down to nearly nothing, the heat of the sun is now unbearable. Even with copious lashings of sun screen, my legs are burning. Its no fun. I figure we will get to Belorado soon though…

YaY 43.9km done today. We are officially insane! Why have we walked this far. We stop in a wonderful new albergue that has poppy table cloths!!! Its a sign. There is some confusion, I ask in really bad spanish if there are any beds? The host takes me up wrong and say that they have one bed for €35! I consider this for a moment, trying again in english we get a bunk for 12euro. We are informed that dinner is at seven and is 10euro each. Done deal. We have earned this pilgrim meal! Oh my goodness the showers in this place are the best on the camino. None of this 30 second nonsense, just full on, peel your skin off, hot power showers. By the time I am out of the shower, Sean has been showered and has all the clothes washed! Jobs done we stroll into town. Hidden in the shade, Sean is talking to an American man while I write. I am only half listening to their conversation. I hear the usual “Where did you start from?” Sean interrupts and I answer that we left from Azofra. There is an awkward silence as the man sees we are serious. He burst out laughing and tells his brother who he is walking with, that this two crazy kids just walked over 40km today. Everyone looks and it becomes a talking point. Oh lord, all the attention. How did we? why did we? are we insane? Yes clearly we are!

Belorado is an amazing town. So beautiful. We walk around admiring the building and churches and Oh so beautiful squares full of families out enjoying the evening sunshine. I wander off to find a shop that sells any kind of smellies, perfume or a car freshener. I really don’t care which one. My bag has started to smell. No one else seems to notice but I do and it is a pong I can’t define. It just needs to be gone. I find a shop and a cheap bottle of perfume. Sean finds his beloved Haribo jellies. An American man spies Seans treasure and asks where he found them, Sean gleefully points to the back of the shop. Later we pass the same man in the square. He waves us over and thanks Sean for the Jellies and asked us would we like some crisps. Would we ever! Inducing us over with shared goodies and treats, Douglas sees Seans Munster Rugby t-shirt and asks if we are actually from Limerick? I ask does he know where Limerick is or is this just a t-shirt observation related question? Sean laughs at me and says yes we are. We are surprised to find that our new friend Douglas has been to Limerick. Not only that, but it turns out he has been to Ballyvaughan, a place which we hold dear. I venture, “did you go to O’Loclainn’s Pub, while you were there” Douglas doesn’t miss a beat and tells me not only has he been there and loves it, but adores the landlady “MARGARET” the three of us scream at each other in unison! Questions fly back and forth, jeepers the excitement. Here in the middle of Spain, we met a totally stranger who knows our beloved Ballyvaughan and better yet our Margaret! Like what are the chances?? Douglas is now a friend for life. We chat of ages in the square. Totally oblivious to the time and the goings on around us. We accost a passing pilgrim and beg him to take a picture of us three new buddies. We promise that we will send a copy to Margaret, as proof! And who knows i joke she may even hang it on the wall of O’Loclainn’s! All too soon we hear the bell toll seven and we have to leave Douglas. He assures us that we will meet again. Running back across the square I wonder if we will.

Tonight we share our table with a French couple with little English, though they understand more than they can speak, and a fantastic English couple Keith and Lynn. Dinner is humongous! My starter of Bolognese pasta is like a giant main portion. We all joke over it until, everyone else’s is served and we realise this is the norm. I am full after it but there is the main and desert yet to go. I love the banter at the table. Sign language and poorly spoken french becomes more animated as the wine just keeps on coming! We are the last to leave the dining area, we retold we don’t have to go to bed but can finish our wine in the garden. Our French friends wish us a good night and hit the hay. Poor Lynn, she tells us she has a massive blister on her toe and has had to taxi a bit of the journey as she has been so unwell. She had a woeful reaction to the medication she was given. My heart bleeds for her. There is a thing called the “camino guilt” anyone that has had to train, taxi or bus part of the journey after walking for a while experiences it. Strange as it sounds it exists! Its dark, getting closer to curfew time but I don’t want this night to end. Keith and Sean get on like a house on fire. I notice that we are not that unsimilar. Like friends who develop the same mannerisms over time. I am intrigued as they share the story of their life with us. Its like listening to our own. Its truly remarkable and so wonderful to hear a success story that is honest and real. Not always easy sailing, but they braved the economic and personal storms and now here they are. Proud owners of a busy company, that affords them the luxury of time to travel and see the world. Remarkable. Working hard always pays off! In bed now and its like listening to the Walton’s. I recognise voices from the bar earlier. The two American brothers. “Good night Bill”… “Good night Ted”


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