There is no question that I will “give up”, but had that option been even a tiny seed in the back of my mind, today would have been the day.
My attic room in Casa Victoria turned out to be perfect, it was warm and snug and I slept well, the people running it were lovely and even though my Spanish and their English were at about the same level we managed to make sense of each other. This morning, for breakfast, the Signor seemed disappointed that I only wanted toast and coffee and was trying to tempt me with eggs and ham and other delights.
I was late setting off having slept until 7:30 and I left the warmth and comfort of Casa Victoria to be throw into a vicious, evil, wind, but no snow, so much for the Spanish 100% chance of snow.
The Way today took me across huge agricultural plains, the track wide and well trodden, but not a tree or bush in sight. The guide book tells me that this is the most monotonous part of the Camino and that one should be sure to wear sunscreen as the lack of trees or shelter has no mercy on fair skin.
No chance of sunburn today, although there was often a blue sky, the temperature was barely above freezing, and the wind chill factor made it -6, the wind was head on and at 17 mph I found I was having to lean into it just to keep upright, then I was being blow from one side of the track to the other. I had to give myself frequent stops and turn my back to the wind for a few moments, just to get my breath. At times I was only traveling at about 1.5 miles an hour and seriously wondering if indeed I would end up as a little monument by the side of the road – this is where Susan ended her Camino!
It was such a relief to come to a town or a village as the houses acted as a wind-break and all seemed well in the world until exiting the village and once again the wind was blowing as cold and as sharp as a knife trying to cut me in two. At times I staggered like a drunk, especially uphill, unable to battle against it.
My track then led me to Santo Domingo De La Calzada and the shelter of this amazing medieval town, which was filled with medieval houses, a monastery, a nunnery and the breath-taking Catherderal, which is closely linked to the Pilgrimage of St James. It’s founder Domingo Garcia who was born in 1019 decided to dedicate his life to God, he tried to enter various monasteries but was turned down. At the age of twenty he became a hermit and lived in the woods, he saw how hard the life of the pilgrims was and helped then, even to the extent of building a bridge to cross the river Oja, next came a pilgrims hostel. He died in 1109, and was buried in the middle of the pilgrimage, from his resting place came the cathedral.
It is very ornate…….
With guided chapel after chapel ……..
Chickens abound everywhere in the cathedral, plaster ones, silver ones, painted ones and there is even a Gothic hen house with a live hen and rooster, they cluck away merrily, but I feel rather sad for their confinement, free range they are not!
The Legend of the hen and the rooster….
There was a German pilgrim named Hugonell who was travelling with his parents to Santiago, they decided to rest at an inn in Santo Domingo de la Calzada. The landlord’s daughter took an immediate liking to the young man. But he being devout and set on his pilgrimage rejected her advances. As he was leaving the Inn she placed a silver cup in his baggage and accused the boy of theft. His punishment? He was hanged……
His distraught parents continued their pilgrimage to Santiago. On their return they stopped to visit their sons grave, only to find that he was still hanging from the gallows and miraculously still alive. The son told his parents that Santo Domingo had brought him back to life and asked them to go to the mayors house to ask for him to be cut down.
The parents went to the Mayors house and told him about the miracle. The Mayor, was about to have dinner with some friends; before him were two roast chickens, ” your son is no more alive than these two roast chickens we are about to eat,” he laughed. At this the chickens suddenly came to life, sprouted feathers and beaks and began to crow. History does not relate what happened to the minx at the inn. But since then a live rooster and hen have lived in the Cathedral…
Somehow I missed my turn out of town, this sign was quite clear even to me……
This is the one I missed……
Well, okay, I was looking for something smaller……..
I found my way out of town eventually and then I was back on the treeless the road in the howling wind…….
But in Redecilla del Camino I think I spotted the reason that there are no standing trees…….
And changing the subject but just to make one thing clear, a man in Kings Lynn did this to me a few days before I left, I thought he was being rude, but no, it’s a religious sign……..
Phew what a relief……
I was so cold; my guide book told me that just a little way off the track …. only about half a kilometre…..was a really nice cafe, called Restarante El Chocolater….. well get real, hot chocolate, really? and in fact turning in that direction put the wind in my back. Suddenly I was within site of it, then minutes later at the door……
For the record, I did not cry, I laughed…… no I don’t think it was laughter, I think it was hysteria!
I do not do selfies but on this occasion………
And so here I am in Belorado…….Cold and hungry, so much so that I have splashed out of my budget (usually between 8€ and 15€ a day on food) and eaten a huge meal and drank several glasses of wine. I’m feeling better already despite the princely sum 16.60€ plus tip…….
Weather tomorrow? High of 4 degrees, 40% chance of rain, wind 15 mph, wind chill factor 1 degree, well it beats the – 4 of today, I know tomorrow is a bit of an uphill climb, on the plus side it’s only a 12 km walk (7 miles) I hope it’s not two steps forward and one step back like today…….
Hope, we use that word in such a slight way, I hope the cafe will be open, I hope I won’t run out of milk I hope I won’t get cold. HOPE should mean so much more. Hope is what’s left when everything else in our lives has gone pear-shaped……
I wish you all HOPE in big bold letters…….
Love Susan x