24.3.18 a very short day 15 kms (3.5 hours).
Last night I stayed at a Franciscan monastery Casa de la Misericordia, Los Esclavos (slaves) de María y de los Pobres (poor) in Alcuescar, started by Leocadio Galán in 1939 to house and educate the orphans of the war, both academically, religiously and in the arts, sports and culture.
I gave a Shiatsu to a deserving fellow trekker who had a neck problem; I was able to dry my boots and have a hot shower, but there was neither kitchen nor clothes washing facilities. We were invited to take a tour of the building with one of the Brothers and to attend Mass (a sign informed us that whatever our religious inclinations, we would be saved).
The soles of my feet ached well into the evening so it was good to give them a massage this morning and feel how Kyo the insteps, KD1 and the backs of the ankle were, even after 9 hours in bed. At least I did not feel the cold that the others did – what with my new sleeping bag and all so my Water element cannot be in that much imbalance!
Yesterday a group of us had to wait until 1pm to be admitted and they played us beautiful Spanish music while they booked us in. This morning we were all ready with our boots on when 7.30am arrived and the doors were opened. The hospitalero played the hallelujah chorus!
As soon as I walked across the road, my left heel remembered its blister, but later it was another part of my other foot which complained more bitterly.
Breakfast was at the café Alta Cuesta over the road (I bought a coffee and ate my left-over bread and cheese) with all the other pilgrims assembled before the day’s walk. What bonhomie (though most were German!). The Way was clearly marked, directly beside the albergue (hostel), and the tarmac quickly became a sandy path: good for the walkers’ feet. There were fields of goats; lots of dogs; and black/white storks flapping their ungainly wings, necks outstretched like flying geese.
Today’s weather: sunny, cold (no need to stop and de-robe), with a glacial and an ever stronger, west wind.
Sign posting: Very good all day – even on the way out of the town. No need for a book or an app.
Soon I was walking between olive fields and hedges. The ground was sodden from yesterday’s rain.
I tried to phone ahead to reserve a bed last night because I saw in my book that it was only a small hostel, but I was informed that bookings were impossible. So I was reminded to leave the situation to fate, stop counting the people who might be in front of me, and not to rush to keep up with them.
There were men at work stripping the olive trees with forks at arms length, presumably ridding them of the old, dead wood.
A little loud dog made a noise which was not relative to her size, and of course the boo boo boo bird serenaded me in addition to the chatterings of starlings.
You can read the Olocau blog here.
When I talk with another as I walk, I forget myself. This can be good because they always have an interesting story to tell. However, in some ways, not, as I cannot tell if I am going too fast for example, not until they walk on and I re-focus.
I spot a beautiful lake but it is behind a fence.
With cow bells tinkling, I was suddenly directed onto a runway-type paved road. Wow, the wind was so strong!
But then almost immediately the signs were off to the right. I reflected, on listening to others, that some of my old habits have passed. That sort of mirror can be very helpful.
There is straight, strong grass poking through the night-sky-blue bog water.
I was very stiff by now and when I squatted to pee, I asked myself ‘can I get up again?’ I wondered how I could ever have walked 6, 8 or 10 hours a day.
Note to self: try the she-wee Alice (eldest daughter) gave me.
When I notice myself thinking too much, or worrying, I imagine the image of praying hands in the centre of my chest. This is to try and centre myself, to try not to think of others. Otherwise, their Ki comes into contact with mine and I have more than me to deal with, and this camino must give me the chance to spend time inside.
The wind played havoc with my phone. I think, anyway. It seemed to be typing all on its own. One way or another it was impossible to take notes.
One fan-tailed raptor flew over and first 10, then 1000s of caterpillars who I had been told liked to move in a queue, were struggling between being stepped on, drowned and blown over. Poor things, they were having a harder time than I was, though they do have more legs.
Through a flock of sheep we wove, and off to to the right onto a road and the final destination.