Time walked – 3.75 hours with a coffee stop
Total distance walked – 10.5 miles (247.45 miles total)
Weather – Hot, upper 60’s in the morning, 85 degrees F in the afternoon, no shade
Terrain – gravel road, some pavement
About 5:00 a.m. two cats started fighting outside the bedroom window of our hostel. I tried to ignore them, but I tossed and turned for about thirty minutes before falling back to sleep. Ray’s alarm went off too early for me, but I knew that we had to get going. The weather forecast promised the hottest day yet of our Camino, and we did not have a reservation. As always, I checked the guide book to plan our coffee stop, and it would be five miles away. With the terrain so flat, we could see the village well in advance of our arrival.
At 10:00 a.m. Boadilla del Camino was perfectly quiet. Any pilgrims who had slept here the night before had already long gone, and there was no local activity either. Ray gets excited when he sees a Coca-Cola sign, even if he isn’t getting one. When he saw a Coke sign ahead of us, he decided that would be our stop.
Ray ordered two café con leches, a slice of breakfast quiche and a breakfast sandwich. The grumpy proprietor charged Ray 10€, and Ray was convinced he’d been ripped off. Just before we finished, Paul and Sara walked in to order their morning juice. We sat and visited with them for awhile and decided to leave at the same time. They had also planned to stay in Frómista, so we walked the last 3.5 miles together.
Talking with Paul and Sara made the time pass very quickly. We told them how much we were enjoying this quiet part of the Camino, and they agreed that too many miss this gem of the journey. Because we had been walking between wheat fields with nothing to break up the landscape, I got excited as we approached a row of trees. The day continued to get hotter, so even a sliver of shade helped to break up the rays of the sun.
I had overheard someone at a break talking about the weather forecast, saying that we were to get several days of rain. Living in Panamá, Ray and I have gotten out of the habit of checking the forecast because the weather varies very little in Boquete. I’m not sure there is a system for forecasting the weather in our area either. The hope is that it will rain at night, but if not, we’ve already learned that we can survive the rain on the Camino, and we will walk on. I snapped a photo of the only clouds in the sky, wondering where the rain could possibly be.
As we progressed toward Frómista, Sara and I were walking ahead of Paul and Ray. We talked about our children and families, and I never asked Ray what the guys were talking about. I had an idea that they discussed the condition of my feet because of something that was said later, but I was happy to be chatting with Sara and not having to think about my blisters.
To the right of the road was a lengthy strip of water. I wasn’t sure what to call it because it wasn’t a pond. It had been intentionally dug out for the water, probably for irrigation. Ray used to fish in the strip pits where we had gone to college, so I turned around and asked him if he was reminded of his college days. He was talking to Paul and hadn’t thought of it, but he understood what I was thinking.
Because this part of Spain could be transplanted in several areas of the Midwest, I’ve had several recollections of my childhood. My father learned to water ski on a pond in the middle of Kansas, and I could picture he and his brothers skiing this long stretch of water. In the 1950’s my father water skied from Gary, Indiana to Chicago, Illinois on Lake Michigan. He used to say that it was 12 miles and that his legs felt like jello when he was finished. I heard someone ask him why, and he answered, “Because I could.” When I thought of the story, I laughed to myself that they be the best answer I could give as to why I wanted to walk the Camino Frances…because I could. In reality, however, it has become so much more.
Since we entered Burgos, the cottonwood trees have been shedding. It was so thick in some places last week that we had to stop talking to keep it out of our mouths. This clump was particularly fluffy looking like it had snowed.
Before reaching our resting stop, the Camino trail crossed the Canal de Castilla built over the span of 100 years from the mid 1700’s to the mid 1800’s. The water we had seen earlier was part of the canal system that was intended to increase the distribution of the wheat from this area. Because of budget issues, the canal was not completed before the railways took over as a more efficient means of distribution. We learned that it is now used as an irrigation system. Ray and I were particularly interested in the structure since we are often engaged in conversation about the Panamá Canal.
As we near our rest stop for the day, I’m so ready to eat my shoes off and my feet up that I forget to take pictures. I’ve rarely gotten a photo of the places we have stayed. After we crossed the Canal de Castilla, we entered the home stretch toward Frómista. We were still walking with Paul and Sara, who also did not have a reservation. While I’m normally focused on the finish line, I happened to glance over and see what I thought was a grain elevator. I’ve grown up seeing the grain elevators of Kansas and almost missed this one since it was different than what I know.
The Camino route lead the four of us right to the tourism office. I had been wanting to try our luck with getting a reservation through the local office, but had not done so. It had gotten very hot, and I was sweating pretty good waiting my turn inside. The tourism employee had a nice brochure with a map of the village and gave us some recommendations with pricing. We made a choice and checked in to our rooms.
Again, our room reminded me of being at a grandmothers house. The shower was the tiniest yet and I kept bumping the handle causing the water temperature and pressure to fluctuate wildly. Our room had a little desk that was being used as a TV stand, so Ray moved the TV and set up a work station. There was a lovely courtyard out back, but we had some work to do and didn’t take advantage of the patio.
We walked in the heat from our accommodation to a grocery store we had passed when entering the town. The store was closed for siesta until 5:00 p.m. and so was the pharmacy. We had eaten a large lunch after getting checked into the hotel, so we wanted to pick up some sandwich foods for dinner and fruit for the next day. Ray had also made a list of pharmacy items that he wanted to try on my feet. We returned to our room to work and wait for the evening store hours.
We shopped for our supper items then headed to the pharmacy. The pharmacist recommended a homemade salve for my blisters, having concocted it himself using three different plants. He instructed me how to use the salve, covering the blisters with a large cotton pad and taping my feet to hold it all in place. Ray and I spent most of the evening with the pharmacist. He even recommended a different insole for my shoes, which we also bought. I hoped that I would be able to wear my trail shoes again, but a couple of unsuccessful attempts to get them on meant I’d have to be a little more patient.