Carrion de los Condes to Calzadilla de la Cueza – 17 Kms, 24,104 steps
I had a good night’s sleep in the Comfort Suites hotel and headed out at 8:10, just as the sun was making an appearance. There were several routes out of town and I saw some departing pilgrims twice, after they’d made an unexpected loop of the market area. The waymarking in towns can often be confusing.
Yesterday I had an interesting experience at the local Lupa supermarket. I picked up two pre-packaged, bar-coded pastries and when I went to the cashier, she told me I had to go back to the Produce department, weigh them, and get a pricing sticker! It’s common in Europe to have to weigh produce and print the resulting price sticker, but this?! Luckily, she told me which “button” number to press on the scale, as it had 100 options on its display (just text, no images). Really? Isn’t the idea of the UPC, the UNIVERSAL Pricing Code, to make pre-packaged items easy to scan and price? I was amazed.
So, off I went to Calzadilla, a 17 Kms walk with the promise of no towns, no facilities, and no food on the way. The path ran along the highway for quite a while and was beautiful: flat and smooth, then headed off through farm fields. The weather started out clear and a chilly 46 F but warmed into the 60s soon enough. There was plenty of sun and even a little cooling breeze. Pretty nice walking conditions.
Inquiring Minds Want To Know: What about masks and COVID? Well, I alway carry an KN-95 mask with me, and I’m careful to eat outside and to avoid indoor crowds. Almost no one wears a mask outside here and few wear them inside. If I go into a store or pharmacy and the staff is wearing masks, I put mine on, out of respect if nothing else. Otherwise everyone behaves as if COVID is gone (I understand President Biden declared the pandemic “over” recently) but every day people are still catching it. I still prefer the cautious approach, thank you.
I got lucky and found a food truck at the halfway point of my walk (and there was another one, too, about 30 minutes further down the path). God bless these vendors, who show up with a generator, a mobile kitchen, and seating. They offer coffee and tea, pastries, grilled foods, and cold drinks, at reasonable prices. I had a cafe con leche and a grilled ham and cheese sandwich. Sharing a table is also a great way to meet other pilgrims.
I was grateful for the occasional tree and shady spot, but there was not much more than a lot of horizon to see. At one point, one of my shoelaces came loose and I promised myself I’d tuck it in at the next opportunity (defined by me as a rock, bench, marker, or stone taller than 12”, where I could put my foot up). I didn’t find one for 62 minutes! The flatness of the path kind of accentuated how boring the walk was. I mean, if you’ve already seen a thousand acres of wheat chaf and browned sunflowers, there wasn’t much to take notice of.
I arrived in Calzadilla at 12:30. The Camino runs right through the midde of this tiny town. There’s a hostal and two albergues, each with its own restaurant, and a small general store. That’s it for commerce. All the locals I interacted with were very welcoming and nice and the hostal, where I’m staying, is surprisingly well-equipped. For example, it actually has an elevator to the upper floors.
One of the albergues actually has a half-size swimming pool in its garden and I met two interesting women sitting nearby it this afternoon. One, a Belgian, was severely traumatized by the 2016 terrorist attack on the subway system near her office in Brussels and, after years of seclusion and therapy, is using the Camino as the finale of her recovery. The other woman is a managing director of a Ronald McDonald House in the Netherlands, and is walking her Camino in memory of an unborn child she lost. The Camino means so much to so many; I wish them well and hope I will see them again along The Way.
Tomorrow, I head for the larger city of Sahagun, 22 Kms away. Tomorrow also marks the beginning of my last three weeks on the Camino. While walking this morning, I had my moment when “three more weeks” on the Camino became “only three more weeks”.