Day #16 El Camino
Thursday 28th September
Calzadilla da la Cueza > Calzada del Coto
Distance walked: 27km
Did I mention I walked a marathon yesterday? Oh I didn’t? Well, I walked a bloody marathon yesterday! This is almost as good a feeling as the time I once built a school for orphans from recycled materials whilst saving kittens from a hurricane in a 3rd world country and helping old blind ladies do their laundry and cross the street and raising a million dollars for various charities before winning a Nobel prize for my efforts. Ahem.
My idea of a rest day today was to take a “quiet” 30km walk. I can’t believe the person I’ve become. I guess doing a marathon changes people. You wouldn’t know. You’re not an athlete. It’s a strict diet of bread, chorizo and wine that makes me the superhuman champ I am. And a humble one at that. My body pulled up pretty well, I was feeling OK apart from some blisters but these just shifted in my shoes to a comfortable place and I kind of forgot about them. I did take it quite slow though just to be safe. Stopping for several drink breaks and some 5 minute stretch sessions every now and then. Something I haven’t been doing much of in the 2 weeks so far. I’ve normally taken a full drink bottle, 1.5liitres plus my flask which is often filled with hot water to make tea and that’s around 700ml. That’s an extra 2kg I don’t think about and that’s not a weight I want. So now I’ve opted to take enough water to get me to the next town and just keep it under 500ml total. I’m already feeling the difference. Especially because my pack is slowly falling apart. (The genuine North Face backpack bought in Chinatown in Kuala Lumpur for $20AUD). The Czech guy I’d hobbled into Burgos with a few days ago appeared from nowhere and he was surprised and happy to see me alive. When I left him I had gone into my hotel room and not surfaced for another 18hours. He assumed I was in hospital or 6ft under. When the topic of me walking 43km the day before “accidentally” came up, he was impressed. See SWITZERLAND!? That’s how you react. Pat a guy on the back, not shove a Swiss Army knife in it! (I jest). Today was the first day in about 3 or 4 days I walked with anyone and it was a nice change and it was only for the 2nd half of the walk so I still had my alone time, I was walking at a slower pace than normal today so it was good to chat for a bit. If I was on my own I probably would have pushed on and tried to get an extra 4 or 5km out of the day, but I was happy conceding with a safe 27km for my “rest” day. The Albergue was a donativo in Calzada del Coto, nice enough and not at capacity so I not only got a bottom bunk, but I got an empty bunk above me. Somewhere to leave my stuff and not anyone above me to worry about moving around in the night. I’ve noticed I toss and turn a bit and it probably annoys whoever is sleeping above or below me. I have done my share of hostels in my time, but my sleep hasn’t been solid at all this whole Camino. There was nothing going on in the town, almost a ghost town so I gave myself a well earned siesta. I was in a deep sleep. Must have needed it. You can tell you’ve had a good nap by the amount of drool coming out the side of your mouth onto the pillow.
The only place to eat was a dive bar by the looks of it, but it surprisingly served up a delicious and filling Peregrino menu. The standard menu is 10 euros on average and consists weirdly of a starter and main and dessert, but the weird part is the starter is also a main. I got a large bowl of spaghetti followed by chicken and chips then a crappy ice cream. Half a bottle of red wine was a nice touch though! The town park / kids playground was the only place for Wi-Fi too. Not sure why this is worth mentioning, except that it reminded me of my travels in Central and South America where many town plazas and parks had free Wi-Fi yet you couldn’t get it in your accommodation. Even though I was the one who might look like the dodgy person in this story, it is kind of creepy that children are coming to play on the swings and slides while I am sat there checking my emails and giggling at my phone with a nostalgic smile or talking to myself. If I was a parent dropping their kids off to play, I’d be a little bit frightened if I saw this hairy homeless looking pilgrim cackling away sitting on top of the fort. I wasn’t arrested and all ended well with the children of del Coto safe to eat bread another day.