The Halfway Point of the Camino: Infinities, Mirages and Miso

After 17 days (I think) Heather has passed the halfway mark on her “little” pilgrimage along the Camino de Santiago.  She’s having a few frustrations with the computer kit in the albergues, but I’ve left the odd bits in because they add a certain something to the post!

Carrion de Los Condes to Terradillos

Hola amigos, and the first thing I have to say is that the exclamation mark isn´t working.  In order to keep the right idea, I´ll insert an asterisk at the appropriate places.  The whole piggin´key isn´t working so I don´t have a number ONE either, but I´ll do a capital Í´for that.

The difference between this beautiful, wonderful country and England is that here, when you see a field glowing yellow, it´s sunflowers.  They make you feel sunny *  When a field glows yellow in England, it´s rapeseed.

So, yesterday, I was outside a bar with a cafe con leche reading my Spanish Paulo Coelho book (The witch of Portobello if you must know) when I heard a ´Heather´.  It was Marta *.  I was SO pleased as last time I saw her she had a bit of a fever and had some kind of allergic reaction over her body.  She said that she felt fine but her body had come out in a new rash and it wasn´t pretty – some huge blotches, some proper spots, some conglomerations. Her mother and sister were wanting her to go home but she wanted to go on, obviously.  She´d already been to a doctor.  I said I really thought she should at least go to the pharmacist.  I went with her, then we went to the medical centre (I just wanted to see what it was like compared to an English one, really).  She came out much more happily, apparently since Fromista the doctor had seen a steady stream of pìlgrims with bites.  Ouch *.  Anyway, she´s back on The Way today.

So after saying goodbye to Marta, I drifted into the church, only to find there was a mass just beginning.  I sort of stayed but in a half-hearted way.  Once it was over, the priest called all the pilgrims to the front.  Thinking it was just going to be a blessing kind of thing, I went but it was ANOTHER service.  The priest asked everyone´s nationality.  I was the only English one. I looked in the service booklet.  There were many readings in different languages and one by one, people volunteered to read aloud the reading for their language.  Now I can do many things but I really, just couldn´t read out a reading in a cathedral; I could almost hear the walls whispering ´fraud, fraud, fraud´.  Just at the last minute, sweating, realising I was the only English person, a 7 ft tall Canadian with a torn ligament stood up and started reading.  This has to be one of the miracles of The Camino.  Phew *

So back to the Albergue which, you will remember was run by nuns.  I actually enjoyed the meal altogether at 9.00.  Then they said they had a small gift for all the pilgrims so we gathered.  First of all Marco, Alessandro, Claudio and Maurizio, my great italian friends, sang to Marco´s guitar, in divine harmony and most melodiously.

I can only imagine to what heights it would have transported me had they been in tune also.

Then one of the nuns, a sweet gentle Singing-Nun look-alike sang a song with the guitar (Do you remember the Singing Nun and Dominique, those of a certain age?)  I put on my pious look, but Cherryll has always been the better one at this.

Then another nun gave us some rules and thoughts about the Camino and about our way along The Way, as it were.  Ably translated by another nun.

Finally after a blessing each, we were allowed to go to bed.  We had five minutes till all the lights went out.  10.00 sharp, see?  Scrabbling around in the dark with little torches.

6.00 am.  Lights *.  Music *.  Action *.

I turned over in defiance.  Left the Albergue the earliest yet, at 7.10.  As Jelle said to me, “You´re not too comfortable with all this, are you, Heather?”  You can say that again.

However, today showed me two miracles of The Camino and a mirage.  The Way now goes for I7 km straight.  It is 17 km of too much like Infinity.  For me, it was OK, I still thought it was beautiful but if the road could have had a few wiggles in it, or maybe a bit of up and down, you know?  17 km of The Same and Straight is a jolly lot of too much.  Anyway, I was just thinking that someone would do well if they set up a bar about NOW, when what did I see?  Aw, come on Heather.  No, honest, just at that very moment that I was thinking that, there was a temporary bar. No *  YES *

The 2nd miracle was that a cyclist along The Way, of which there are many, gave me a sweetie.  Well, two.  That gave me a nice buzz and lovely they were too.  Oh, I know you shouldn´t accept sweeties from a strange man but there were two men and anyway they were pilgrims too and anyway, they were honey sweets.

And the third miracle, just when I was looking at my watch and thinking that the end of infinity should be about now (I’m averaging about 4 and a half km an hour and I think I´m going slowly), I saw a thing which might have been a haystack.  Then it grew and it was a building.  Then it grew and it was a few buildings *.  There it was, Calzadilla, a mirage, an oasis, the end of Infinity, THE BAR where all and sundry were having their coffee and celebrating the end of purgatory.

As I said, I didn´t think it was bad, my feet and body just did what was asked of them in a rhythm and I looked around at the wonders of nature.

1 km after that, was mid point !!!! (I put in the exclamation marks for this bit: Ray)  I am now at Terradillos and only have 380 km to go ***.  I´d better slow down ***

The exclamation mark idea isn´t really working, is it?

So anyway, I´m in a really cool place, superduper clean, Miso has just walked in and so has Marta.  Great stuff*

Miso is wonderful because any other Koreans we see cover up everything in the sun.  They must be SO hot.  Even have scarves round their faces.  There is some shame attached to getting brown apparently.  But Miso doesn´t care*  That´s what makes her great*

Take care everyone


Heather xxxx

380 km is a hell of a walk for one who is not of any religious persuasion, especially when you keep getting hijacked for a special service here and an extra one there.  Although the thought of following a pilgrim route across countryside that isn’t in the mountains would never have crossed my mind before Heather’s adventure, I imagine that the atmosphere of travelling with an ever changing mix of walkers and real pilgrims must be something extraordinary.  More tomorrow.