A day off walking and time for some foot care. We’ve been walking fast especially first thing in order to keep warm and the pounding has hurt our feet. Time to repair and reflect.
The hostal Moratinos is superbly well run by Daniel and Martina: clean, efficient, simple but smart. For example there is underfloor heating which is pure luxury after weeks of those cold tiles. And last night we ate spinach omelette without chips. Muesli for breakfast. Yum.
Lots of nice things in Spain.
Cafe con leche
Good ordinary wine “water to refresh, wine to fortify”. Ok can do.
Very smart pharmacies. No matter how decrepit the town: there may be 70s window displays, falling masonry, dogs running wild and free, I guarentee the pharmacy will be sparkling clean but sparsely stocked. They offer tiny tubes of Vaseline, a lubricant we slather on religiously everyday and which we need in industrial quantities. There will also be a large display of Compeed, magic skin.
I am back on food and feet: let’s try to raise the tone.
Churches, bell towers, corbels (Look it up. We had to.) Immense gilded altar pieces under huge vaulted stone roofs. Every village has one and The Way passes many. Sadly I get very little sense of the presence of God or even much spirituality. It may be that as this is not my tradition and so it leaves me cold, but the truth is it does not warm me.
I do feel wonder at the skill and artistry shown by people in an age where mere survival was precarious. But mostly my wonder is at the natural landscape. Northern Spain is stunning. While it is unseasonably cold, spring is underway and the sky is full of birds. Swifts and swallows, buzzards and storks. Yes storks! Building their nests on the church tower, up and up, and how are they not blown away in this blasted wind?
Wild flowers, rippling wheat and barley.
Birdsong on the wind.
Very few cars pass us. I know that will change as we carry on.
Walking across the meseta is mesmerising. Our friend Sue did the Camino in September /October when all was brown and scorched: she found it sublime. Our meseta is verdantly alive but strangely empty nonetheless. We have lots of thinking time. We keep a regular walking pace which allows thoughts to flow freely. Now and then I look northward where, under the clouds, lie some menacing looking mountains, to my shame I can’t name them. They are still covered in snow. Surreal is the word that springs to mind.
Helen and I often refer to The Lord of the Rings. We have a sense of journey and a desired goal. The countryside plays its part in this: sometimes it feels dark and menacing as if it could swallow us up. We’d disappear and it would be as if we never existed. Sometimes, like today, the places we stay are so warm and benevolent, we don’t want to leave. This feels like Rivendell or the last homely house before the sea.
We are entering the second half of the Camino and are more aware now of the challenges and pitfalls than we were. But the pull to Santiago is very strong. We so want to walk there. Our fellow walkers are encouraging as they face their own doubts and health problems. We urge each other on. I am sure this all sounds very cheesy but I don’t care. It’s something very real, not slick or glamourous. Not very 21 st century. But strangely more and more people are choosing to walk the way and the infrastructure is struggling to cope with them . There are three places to stay in this village of 30people. Tonight we are going to eat pizza at the other albergue. Yum.