Camino de Santiago: Day 14 (Christina)

From Hontanas to Itero de la Vegas (20 km)

I am on the road at 6:30 this morning, nice and early.  It is very cold today but there is no wind, at least not in the early morning as the sun rises over the hills. Soon the wind picks up and it is relentless for the rest of the day.  I walk alone to the first town, 9 km away.  I have decided that the best coffee for the day is in the first open restaurant.  You never know when you will find another restaurant.  So I stop and enjoy a coffee and a tortilla which is my favourite Spanish tapa, a egg and potato mixture that is cooked into the shape of a pie.  I meet Chris in the coffee shop and we decide to walk the next 11 km together.  This is the first time we walk together on the Camino.

Chris walks quite slowly, but he is steady.  I walk much more quickly but I stop a lot more frequently, to put on a jacket, to take off a jacket, to rebandage my feet, to have a coffee, to write in my journal.  Really any excuse to take a little break.  But this morning we walk at Chris´ pace, slow and steady.  I am still barefoot in my sandals and I am feeling the strain on my feet.  Even the bones are starting to hurt.  I decide to try my hiking shoes for the last hour and I am surprised that I can get my feet into my shoes and that my feet actually feel better.  At least they are warm and dry.

For the most part, the Camino was flat today except for this one big hill.

As we enter the next town, storm clouds have collected and the winds have picked up.  We decide that we will stop here for the day even though we have only walked 20 km and it is just noon.  We have had a good talk on the Camino and have cleared the air from yesterday.  We are thrilled to find a private room with a double bed and two singles.  For 21 Euro we can have the whole room for ourselves.  Sold!  What a treat to have some space to spread out and to have some security too.  Of course, the pleasure that comes with privacy goes without saying 🙂

We go through our usual routines – shower, laundry, beer and food.  We get all our clothes washed in a washing machine for just 3 Euros.  By the time they are washed, the storm as blown over and the sun has come out.  They dry very quickly on the line in the backyard.  There is a computer in this Albergue with internet and it only costs 1 Euro per usage, unlimited time.  I only manage to write one blog entry because the computer is so slow I just give up.

Erin and Cameron, a young Irish couple arrive later in the afternoon.  Chris and I both know them individually, and now we visit with them as a couple.  It must be strange for people.  We all have dinner together at the Albergue; the Pilgrim´s Menu is a bargain at 8 Euro.  The food is quite good but the wine is undrinkable.  I have been bumping into Cameron and Erin for a few days now and each time I see them, I get to know them a little better.  Erin is a lovely girl, just 22, very pretty, smart and articulate.  She has been plagued with all kinds of issues on the Camino – allergic reaction to mosquito bites, bed bugs, sun burn (she is very fair), and a cold.  She has had more than her fair share of pain.  I learn that she has just finished journalism school and has a job writing a weekly column for a local paper.  I think her biggest challenge right now, and perhaps this is the reason why she is walking the Camino, is to come to terms with her hearing loss.  She reminds me of Tricia who we met on our Antarctica Cruise who also lost her hearing as a young girl.  Tricia proved that it is possible to live a full life even with a hearing impairment.  I hope Erin finds peace and acceptance with her hearing loss, and finds a way to live life to the fullest.

Erin tells me the story of the stolen walking sticks.  Her friend, Leah had parked her sticks outside a restaurant door which is the custom on the Camino.  When she left the restaurant, her sticks were gone.  She was upset because these were good sticks.  But the next day, Erin and Natasha (another Camino friend) spotted Leah´s sticks in the Albergue and together with Leah they confront the woman who is now holding them.  This older, Spanish speaking woman claims she can´t understand them and tries to pay them no attention, I guess hoping they will go away.  But they persist.  They pull out their phones and show pictures of Leah with her walking sticks, the very sticks the woman is holding.  It is very obvious that they have caught the thief red handed yet the woman defiantly takes the sticks and puts them in the bottom of her pack.  The girls are angry at the nerve of this woman. As tempers begin to flare, a tall, dark and very handsome Italian man (I think this is the same guy the Irish girls were swooning over in Narana) intervened on their behalf, talking to the woman in Spanish.  After a rather heated discussion, the woman reluctantly relinquishes the sticks back the Leah, the rightful owner.  I take this story to heart and I am even more determined than ever to guard my high quality walking sticks.  Good walking sticks are a hot commodity on the Camino!

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4 Responses
  1. sonja says:

    Hi Chris,

    I just watched the movie “The Way” which is a Martin Sheen film about the Camino. Frankly, your story is far more compelling and real. In the movie, you get the impression that anyone can easily do the pilgrimage and never have a blister! Too unreal for me, whereas your story is real and the reader can feel your pain – blisters and the pain of the heart!

    This is perhaps a book in the making…..

    I look forward very much to all your posts.

    BTW…I have now run 26 marathon distance runs….halfway there!



    • christina says:

      Hi Son
      Chris and I watched that movie when we were in Buenos Aires and I agree, it is more superficial than the experience I have been having. Each day I tend to my blisters, some old and some new. It seems to be my curse on the Camino. But each day brings new wonders as well, I just love not knowing what the day will bring and then being in awe at how it has all turned out by the end of the day. More stories to tell as I am still behind on my blog. A really really big story is that I have figured out what I am doing next!!!!! And I am so excited I can hardly wait to get started…..but I am going to be a mean sister and leave you in suspense as I will tell about it on the day it happened, as it happened on the Camino 🙂
      Congrats on making it to the halfway point of your goal – 52 marathons in 52 weeks – you inspire me with your determination to stick with your goals even when it is hard….I think about you often on the Camino and the special bond we share in spite of our fractured past. I am grateful to have you as my sister, Son, and I can always hear you cheering me on along the way, especially when things get tough. In many ways we are cut from the same cloth 🙂
      Have a great day,

  2. sonja says:

    ok….hurry up and write as the suspense is killing me!

  3. Sinead Murphy says:

    Hi Christina,
    I’m following your blog with earnest interest. I long to be back on the Camino, I really do. Myself and Eleanor we’re only just talking about you yesterday and saying how we’d love to bump into you in some beautiful Spanish village dn have a chat over some wine (just a small amount, we wouldn’t be the type to drink excessively or place crucifixes under beds!). We both had such an amazing experience and were in tears leaving eachother. I will send you a proper mail real soon and you can fill me in on your plans to come to Ireland!!!
    We’ll send you on the link for ‘Bettie’s Way’ the movie as soon as I’ve finished editing, Martin Sheen eat your heart out!!
    P.s. It fills my soul with joy to think of that beautiful Italian/Peurto Rican man negotiating on behalf of the Irish girl to get her sticks back, thank God I never saw him again, I might have done soemthing inappropriate! 🙂
    Buen Camino dear Christina…..
    Sinead xx