El Camino – Day 6 & 7 – Calzadilla de la Cueza to Calzadilla de los Hermanillos

Day 6 – Calzadilla de la Cueza to Sahagun

Day 6 was a remarkable day. We walked 13.17 miles (21.2km) and I wasn’t in pain. It was 5 hours of walking with two 1 hour breaks and the day felt like it flew by. I was surprised to get to our final stop and be done for the day. I anticipated that the first week would be a struggle but hoped to be stronger by the second week so it seems I am right on schedule.

The walk today was once again a long dirt road surrounded on all sides by wheat fields. I’ve started to notice changes in the colors and textures of the wheat. The wildflowers don’t come through as well in the photos I’ve taken. They are everywhere and very diverse. I don’t know the types of flowers but there are red, purple, yellow, white and blue ones. The monotone backdrop of wheat makes all the flowers really pop out like tiny gems.

We pass by several churches every day and try to go inside to look (and get a stamp) everytime we cross one. Many of them are closed unfortunately but we did get lucky today and got to see la Ermita de la Virgen del Puente outside of Sahagun. The city is celebrating its “Medieval Festival” this weekend, which from what I can tell is like a city-wide Ren Faire. The small church was taking things a little more seriously. It’s caretaker was wearing traditional clothing and offering pilgrims sweet wine and breads to honor the holiday.

Our Albergue tonight was great again. The lady at the reception desk was so friendly and excited to help us. Inside the Albergue was quiet and dark with very few other pilgrims.

We concluded this action packed day with an adventurous trip to the local supermarket. The lack of nutrition (we’ve been living on bread, pasta, and pizza) is really starting to get to us and we decided to take advantage of the larger city as an opportunity to make our own dinner. Shopping took a while, the things we are used to eating aren’t available here, and trying to figure out an ingredient list in a foreign language is difficult. We managed to successfully make ourselves a pretty awesome salad but our lentils and rice dish was a disappointment.

Day 7 – Sahagun to Calzadilla de los Hermanillos

Today was a short day, partly to rest and partly to prepare for a long day tomorrow. Today was also our “rebellious” day or “accurate historical” day, depending on how you look at it.

The Camino splits early in the day and we had to make a choice. There is one route that is the new modern route and a second which is the original historic route. Most people prefer the modern route because it has frequent villages to stop at along the way. But it also runs mostly along the highway which we discovered we do not enjoy. The historic route has a 10.5 mile (17km) stretch with no villages and no available water. We decided to go with the historic route because we are sticklers for accuracy. And also we really don’t like walking on highways. We will tackle the 10 mile no water stretch tomorrow morning. By the end of the day the two routes become one again.

One of the unexpected benefits of the historic route is that we seem to be the only pilgrims on it. We haven’t seen anyone else since our breakfast stop this morning. We got into Calzadilla de los Hermanillos at 10:40am and we’re done for the day. At that hour everything is still closed but we were hot and thirsty so we stopped at the small hotel in town (the only hotel!) and asked for a drink. I think the owner felt bad for not having food to give us because after bringing us our drinks he returned with a plate of nuts. And then brought us fresh watermelon. And then brought us ice cream. None of which he charged us for. He didn’t speak any English but was able to talk to us in a way that allowed us to completely understand him. In the end we decided to pay the extra splurge cost to stay in his hotel instead of the local Albergue. He is either a genuinely awesome person or a brilliant salesman. Probably both.

The rest of today will be spent lounging and resting in the hotel and then we’ll have a late dinner and early bed time.

Rest Days and Pack Status

I’ve gotten a lot of comments/questions/ messages about the status of my feet and the horrible pain I was in for the first few days.

First off, thanks for caring!

Second, I think I know the problem and have a solution. Kelly pointed out that the pain I was describing sounded like what she felt on a previous trip where she was carrying too much weight. This is concerning because it can actually cause serious and permanent damage to your feet and I feel like I will need my feet for a few more years.

So my pack is too heavy for my body and that problem had a pretty obvious solution. I can’t get a new body, so changes to my pack are incoming.

I gave myself a rest day compromise. Instead of taking a whole day off, I decided to have my bag shipped ahead to the next village. This is actually a service provided by the Spanish Postal Service and costs 5€. I still had to walk the full route but by not carrying the extra weight of my pack my feet got a break. I could really feel the difference after one day so I think this was a great plan. We get to Leon, which is a large city, in 3 days and I will be buying a new (smaller and lighter) pack then. I’m also taking out most of what I brought with me. I’ll ship all of that, plus my large pack to Santiago, and continue with my Camino at a much lower weight. I could have saved myself a lot of trouble by getting a smaller pack before I left, but I guess I needed to learn the hard way.

Tommorow takes us to Mansilla de las Mulas, which is a town that is still surrounded by its medieval fortress walls (though they are crumbling now) and was the place to go if you were an ancient Roman who needed a mule. Should be fun to see!

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