Time walked – 5 hours including two breaks
Total distance walked – 10 miles (268.95 miles total)
Weather – cool to warm, overcast 68 degrees F to upper 70’s
Terrain – some pavement, small gravel, rocky trail
The morning routine to salve, bandage and wrap my feet took over 30 minutes. Ray had purchased these cushioned tubes lined with silicone that are intended to be used on injured toes. The blister on my little toenail did not swell back up overnight, but it was very tender. My little toe is barely over an inch long so the cylinder had to be cut. Getting it on my toe was not enjoyable, and once it was on, it looked like it would slide back off. Ray decided it would be best to tape the fourth toe and the little toe together. It sounded like a good idea to me, so after getting the tube bandage to stay put, he wrapped the two toes with a bandage tape. We covered the other blisters and used the tape to wrap my ankles that the pharmacist in Frómista sold us. Once that is all done, I focus on getting my socks and sandals on while Ray finishes packing up the first aid supplies.
The convent was very clear that check out was before 8:30 a.m. Ray and I had set the alarm for 6:00 a.m., but we were barely going to make it down the stairs for check out. With a few seconds to spare, we left our key at the front desk and turned toward the front door. By the door were at least a dozen backpacks tagged for transfer. Between the different villages, there are services for hire that will take your pack for you to your next stay. Ray and I have felt that part of our journey is carrying all of our belongings with us each day, although a few people have suggested that I send my pack ahead to get the weight off my feet. We’ve met a few people that send their pack ahead for physical reasons, and we recognized two of the packs as belonging to a couple of strong young men that are on a time constraint with their vacation. While Ray and I are supposed to average about 20 kilometers a day, these guys are walking a minimum of 30 kilometers a day. Having to carry their packs would make jeopardize their journey.
We had talked at length about sending one or both of our backpacks with a service if it was needed. Ray had been asking if I wanted to send my pack for a few days. I understood the concept and had asked enough questions to get an idea of how it worked, but for some reason I just couldn’t wrap my head around what I might need during the walking.
The discomfort in my little toe while walking to the front counter of the convent was enough to get me to think seriously about getting my pack ready to send. First, I had to know where to have them send it, so I grabbed the guidebook and made a phone call to an albergue in our destination village. Once I had made the reservation, I called the transfer company to make the arrangements and get the cost. Then I had to fill out the envelope with all the required information to attach to the pack with the money inside. Every time someone rang the convent doorbell, I assumed it would be the transfer company and my anxiety level would climb. Finally, I had to decide what I needed to carry with me and how I would do that. Obviously I needed my passport, cards, and money. I also wanted to keep my electronics as well as the guidebook that I refer to multiple times a day. I asked Ray about the weather. If it rained, I would need my poncho. There were other items to think about as well, like a back-up pair of shoes and what I would do for water. I had a string bag that I stashed all the necessary items in, and Ray had a bottle that he would carry with extra water. I was thoroughly stressed out after having to make the rapid fire decisions, and I understood why I had avoided doing this before. It was nearly 9:00 a.m. before one of the nuns walked us out of the front door.
Mentally, I was running over the decisions I had just made for fear of forgetting something. Thankfully my panic kept me from thinking about the pain in my toe. We had to walk quite awhile to get out of Carrión, and I wasn’t even looking around to record any of the experience in photos. About that time we crossed a bridge out of the city and looked down on a mosaic depicting wheat and sunflowers. Who says we’re not in Kansas anymore?
We passed an ancient church on the edge of town making me wish that we could spend more time studying the rich history of each area. Based on the guidebook and experience of our friends, I thought I had allowed plenty of time for us to walk 500 miles and work in the process. I had hoped that we would find ourselves ahead of schedule so that we could build in leisurely time, but we were falling behind. I had worked and reworked our schedule, and it was not looking good to do all the things I had planned after the Camino. Some of the people we started with like Yung Mi and Jeri were now a day ahead of us, yet others were at our pace or a day behind. It seemed that the most I could get out of my feet any more was going to be 20 kilometers a day.
Ray knew that I was getting stressed out and that my toe was bothering me. He chose to walk behind me so that if I had to stop he would know. I prefer that we walk side by side, but that doesn’t always work with the width of the path. I like that when we talk it provides a distraction of passes the time more quickly. Even if Ray wants to talk about work, I would rather do that than be left to my own thoughts. Too often I want to check the map app to see how many more kilometers. I then occupy myself by converting the kilometers to miles, then I try to clock my pace in kilometers per hour versus miles per hour. After that, I use the calculations to determine what time we will arrive at our stop for the day, considering no breaks. If anyone near could read my thoughts, I’d probably drive them crazy. Maybe I should try to sing a song in my head, but I just prefer when Ray and I can walk together and talk about whatever comes to mind.
Once we were past the city and into the country, I snapped a photo of yet another wheat field for no reason. Maybe because I wanted to record the color of the morning sky, or maybe I wanted the wheat field to be remind me of my original home, or maybe I was just happy to see the clouds.
Ray pointed out that the next field was oats and not wheat. Since the landscape had not changed much, I decided that a crop change was worth a photo.
Even though the path had some trees on either side, they provided no shade. Since I wasn’t wearing my backpack, I felt the hot rays of the sun directly on my back. Ray and I discussed the difference between walking with my pack and without it. I was sure that not carrying an extra 15 pounds was helping my feet, but at this point in the day, I wasn’t able to tell how my feet were impacted. I thought I would be able to tell more of a difference as the day wore on. Usually I can feel the tendons and bones aching after several miles. We had also shortened up our day to just over ten miles, so my feet may not wear out at all. Hopefully, there would be no new blisters.
Besides giving my feet a break, another reason it was going to be a shorter day was the distance between the villages. After Carrión de los Condes, there were no towns or services for 17 kilometers, or 10.5 miles. We read in the guidebook that may be a mobile coffee station open at about the halfway point, but no guarantees. More than not having a coffee stop, my concern was not having facilities. If we could walk at a pace of 2.5 miles per hour, we should arrive at our albergue in four hours. Normally we have a faster pace than that, but we blow it with our coffee and restroom breaks. I was curious to see how we would do without the stops.
Ray had read that the mobile station, if established, would be located around seven kilometers from our start. Of course after walking seven kilometers, looking for the station gave us something to do. We could see some sort of sign ahead of us, but when we got closer, there were only picnic tables. The busiest months on the Camino are July and August, so when some things are advertised as opening in summer, it often means June 1st at the earliest. There were several pilgrims resting their feet at the picnic tables, and we were all thinking that we were too early in the season for coffee and snacks.
Before leaving the rest stop, I adjusted the straps on my sandals and peeked under my socks to see how the tape was doing. Everything seemed fine and it did feel good to let my feet cool off. Just as Ray was putting his backpack on to get going, Steve and Ann arrived. We visited with them briefly, but we were ready to keep moving, always concerned about finishing our day before it gets too hot. We were all staying in the same village this evening, so we made plans to eat dinner together and catch up then.
Ray and I hit the trail again noticing how quickly our muscles and feet stiffen up when we stop moving. While it is important to give our bodies a rest, it can’t be for too long or it becomes difficult to start up again. After walking about two more kilometers, we could see the pilgrims ahead of us turning off the trail to the right. The mobile coffee station was open and further than we had originally thought. Even though we felt like we had just gotten going again, we did not hesitate to grab some bananas and coffee.
Before we had finished, Steve and Ann walked into the little oasis. They grabbed some snacks and we visited some more. We were much more relaxed after having had our coffee and knowing we were further down the road. Ann said that they had walked back to the church that we had passed together because it was supposed to be open on that day. Unfortunately it was not. Someone mentioned that we should try to look it up later on the internet to see if we could find pictures of the inside, since it was supposed to be the most beautiful church on the Camino. We laughed because of all the things we talk about looking up while we are walking, yet can’t remember any of them once we get to our destination.
It made sense to walk while we talked, so the four of us set out together for the final stretch of trail. We were not seeing much variety in the landscape until we passed a field with hundreds, if not thousands, of poppies. We all spotted the change of scenery, and there were other pilgrims stopped to take photos as well. As I was getting my phone ready to snap a picture, Ann asked us if we knew which character in the Wizard of Oz did not fall asleep in the poppy field. She thought that it might have been the scarecrow, but wasn’t for sure. Ray knew exactly the scene she was referring to in the movie, but my memory was not as good. I did remember that the movie aired on television annually, and my friends would talk about watching it the next day at school. My dad did not care for re-runs, therefore I only remembered seeing the movie once or twice growing up. As a child it used to upset me that we didn’t watch the classics every year, but as an adult, I’ve become just like my father about watching something twice. Ray and Ann promised to look up the answer to her question later, but I’m not sure anyone remembered.
The trail continued at a slight incline. At one point it almost appeared to be a hill. With the land being so flat, I announced that I thought we would be able to see Calzadilla once we crested the hill. Steve laughed and said that he thought I was a little too hopeful. Sure enough, what looked like a hill was a long stretch of trail just a little higher than what we had been on before. The sun was getting hotter and there were no trees at all. I wondered who maintained the Camino trail and why they didn’t consider planting a shade tree or two. While the pilgrims walked the width of this path, it was a country road as well, but we rarely saw any vehicles using this stretch of the Camino.
Ann and I watched the pilgrims up ahead of us. While the trail appeared to stretch on before us, we noticed that the pilgrims were suddenly disappearing, meaning that we were coming up on a downhill slope. By our calculations, the village should be near by, so we were pretty sure we would be able to see it from the spot the pilgrims were disappearing. I laughed to myself that I would discuss the blades of grass at this point if it would make the time pass more quickly.
Just as we thought, we reached a downhill slope and there we could see our next village. I was thankful that we had met up with Ann and Steve. Not only did it make the journey seem to go faster, it kept me from thinking about my feet or that I needed to use the restroom. We reached the edge of town as saw the albergue where I had made our reservation directly in front of us. Steve and Ann were staying on the same street but to the right of where we were standing. We all wanted to get checked in, I wanted to ensure that my bag had arrived, and we said that we would see each other again soon. It appeared that the only outdoor chairs to relax in were in front of our albergue, so we would meet up again soon.
The desk clerk was asking Ray for 10€, 5€ for each bed when I walked up to the counter. After having had some more private accommodations the past few days, it took us both awhile to register what he was telling us. This price aligned closer to my budget, but when my feet starting getting bad I threw the budget out the window. After we paid, we were shown to our bunk, one of twenty in a room, and pointed toward the shared bathroom. We settled in and I decided to hold off a little while on my shower. We were plenty early for my clothes to dry in the hot sun even if I did not get my laundry done for a few hours.
Ray and I opted to grab some lunch and saw that Lisa, Claudia and Carmen were already enjoying a bite to eat. We joined them and soon Steve, Ann, Paul and Sara joined us all as well. Most of us had started on May 5th, staying our first night at Orisson. These pilgrims had become our Camino family. Our albergue had a swimming pool, but it was clearly posted that it was only for the people who were staying at this accommodation. While no one was swimming, several people were soaking their feet in the cold water. I thought I would try that as well, and it felt as good as it looked. Eventually I showered and washed my clothes, getting ready for dinner.
At 7:00 p.m. when the restaurant nearby opened for the pilgrim’s meal, we all met up for dinner. Carmen had walked on to the next village, but we picked up another pilgrim from California who was biking the Camino. The next couple of legs on the Camino had some route options, so it sounded like we would be splitting up from here. At the beginning of this journey, however, I had no idea how often we would run into people that we recognized or how important that would become for us. After a lovely dinner with lively conversation, we said good night, but not good bye.