Although I felt down yesterday evening, I had a really good time in the end.
Anne and Teak from Mt. Vernon, Washington were sitting in the cozy Templar-themed dining room when I wandered in for dinner. Anne had sat behind me in the stairwell during the sing-along with the nuns in Carrion de los Condes (below).
I joined them and a couple of other pilgrims at their table.
My laundry was still damp when I checked it after dinner. It would dry better hanging at the end of my bunk bed, so I collected it from the line. The laundry facilities were basic – a big wash tub with a hose and no hot water. My packets of liquid laundry soap didn’t lather well in the frigid water and my clothes weren’t nearly as fresh and fragrant as they were in Castrojeriz.
Before bed, I gathered the tattered plastic bag of toiletries from my pack. The quilted hanging toiletry bag I originally packed was not so practical on a journey where the weight of things, even small things, matters so much. The hospitalera in St. Jean Pied de Port said it wasn’t a necessary item and handed me a plastic bag to use instead.
The bag is in rough shape now and needs to be replaced. Nothing entirely dries in there either since items go straight back inside after they’ve been used. I’m sure my toothbrush is an enticing home for any microorganisms lounging around in the bag, so running it under hot water for a while before sticking it in my mouth is a must-do!
While brushing my teeth, the most beautiful feminine alto voice, as smooth as silk, swept into the room. My spirits lifted and I immediately needed to find the source. The sound of guitar chords strumming along with a Kiwi accented voice became louder as I crept down the stairs to a sitting area I had not yet discovered. Her name was Sue from New Zealand, not Suzanna who I met the other day. This was a new Sue. She was sitting in a chair dressed in greys.
I tip-toed across the room, nestled into a deep comfy armchair and pulled the wool blanket I had carried around with me all evening up to my chin. Earlier, I had worn it wrapped around my waist like a really thick skirt. Not very stylish, especially combined with my rain jacket, long johns under a black skirt, grey merino wool socks and red sandals, but I didn’t care. Being warm was more important.
Three other pilgrims filtered into the room to listen too.
Sue sang some Janice Joplin as well as Stand by Me, Edelweiss and some other songs I remember from years ago. We all sang when we knew the words.
I imagined how comforting Sue’s soothing voice would be to a child at bed time and wondered if she had any. She said she has one son who is now 30 years old.
My eyelids became heavy and I dozed off while Sue continued to sing, ending with an Irish Lullaby. My half empty glass was full to the brim again.
During the night I dreamed that a white wolf passed me on the path to Santiago. It turned to look at me and our eyes locked. In the dream, I fumbled with my camera to take a picture of it, but it turned and ran up ahead before I could snap a shot. I recalled the dream this morning as I walked and I wondered what it meant. If anything it must be a good thing.
Not too far along Xavier caught up.
He had stayed at an albergue located along the highway. He said it was nothing special, just that it was new and lacking in character. He said quite a few pilgrims stayed there last night, but as much as I had wished yesterday afternoon to spend time with my Camino friends, I was glad for the experience I had last night. It turned out to be just what I needed.
Xavier and I spent the remainder of the morning walking together. This was his last day on the Camino until next year when he will finish it off. We chatted about Canadian and Australian wildlife as well as hiking and rock climbing until we reached the outskirts of Sahagun where a tiny church stood near a gateway guarded by two statues.
They marked the halfway point on the Camino – the threshold marking 400 kilometers walked and 400 kilometers yet to go.
We collected our half way credencials and passport stamps in Sahagun before I said my goodbye to him.
It seems strange to say goodbye to Xavier now, especially since he was the one who responded to my request to share a taxi from Biarritz to St. Jean Pied de Port in the very beginning. It feels too soon somehow, like a friend passing before their time.
I continued walking out of Sahagun towards Calzadilla de los Hermanillos where I am now, again sitting in a bunk bed – this time in a lower one. It was a long stretch of flat again; however there were a few more trees to look at this time. It just seemed to go on and on.
As I walked, I kept thinking about how nice it would be to taste the sweet and tart flavours of an orange, banana and raspberry sorbet. I imagined it all swirled up inside a crunchy sweet waffle cone and if it didn’t come that way then I would settle for a scoop of each flavour in a bowl. When I finally got to Calzadilla I couldn’t find what I was craving, so settled for a vanilla drumstick.
I’m always hungry these days – constant cravings for food! I must be burning an incredible number of calories walking so many kilometers each day. I can just eat and eat! I even had to eat the pastry I bought for tomorrow before bed tonight even though I had a huge dinner with lemon mousse for dessert.
The albergue I’m staying in is by donation. It has decent enough facilities and the women here are quite nice. One is from Harrison Hot Springs and the other from Chilliwack, my home town. What a small world! Another is from Kitsilano near downtown Vancouver. Karen from Winnipeg is also here as well as four others from Australia.
Four of us walked the empty streets of this dusty ghost-like town looking for a supermarket.
It was siesta and I was beginning to wonder if we would find anything open. Surprisingly one was. It was the tiniest supermarket I have ever seen. An old man stood behind a glass case which contained a variety of cheeses. Jars of large green olives sat on top. The shelves behind him were stocked with a variety of canned goods, fruits and vegetables, baskets of baguettes, chocolate bars and other food items. There was also a fridge containing cold beverages.
We needed to get stocked up for tomorrow’s long 17 kilometer stretch of nothing. This time I plan to be prepared and bought a baguette, cheese, a tomato, olives, an orange, an apple, a cookie and a pastry (now gone) – and a cold beer for the walk back to the albergue.
Tomorrow I’ll walk 24.5 kilometers – an easy day. I thought about going further, but the next stage to Leon is another 18 kilometers and I’m not prepared to walk 42.5 kilometers in one day.
One of the ladies said there is a festival in Leon beginning Friday, so it will be a good day to get there. Who knows, maybe I’ll even take a rest day there. We’ll see. Finisterre is beckoning to me too.