Day 17 - Itero de la Vega to Villalcazar de Sirga
Trip Start Sep 03, 2012
36Trip End Oct 07, 2012
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Distance walked in total: 389 kms
Distance to Santiago: 420 kms
Pains: quite strong pain in the front part of the ankle. As it was not getting any better after 20kms I stopped to stretch. It was then I realised that my right foot had a purple mark in the same area where the left one did. I could only think it might be the pressure of the socks after a couple of months of walking. I have pulled my sock up and hope that will reduce the strain.
Blisters: no new ones! Just the old stuff
I woke up around 5.30am and was on the road a few minutes later. Being a small village I was immediately in the dark, and at this time of the year the sun doesn't make any appearance until around 8am
The path is wide and with gravel so I didn't really need my headlamp on. That was until about 20 minutes into the walk when I detected a light coming towards me. It was powerful enough to be a motorbike so I put mine on so the driver could see me. However for a bike it was awfully slow and silent, so I started to think it must be a farmer.
About five minutes later the lamp started turning and coming towards me until it was blinding me totally. Suddenly a female voice asked me if I spoke French. It was a pilgrim that had started in the same village but had doubts about the direction after a couple of kilometres.
I pointed in the right direction and she asked me if we could walk together. I agreed as it was good to practice some French and her lamp was ten times more powerful than mine. Her step was quite fast though, so my left leg sort of resented it but I kept the speed up until Fromista.
Sylvie (why are all French names on the path Sylvie?) is a nurse from Quebec, enjoying five months off after ten years work
The last part is a nice walk along the Canal de Castilla built in 1753 to carry the wheat on barges.
Chatting away we arrived at Fromista by 8am, in time for breakfast, and an ATM right in front of it. I'm rich again!
Sylvie continued ahead, and allowed me to indulge in a huge jamon serrano bocadillo with coffee. I'm note sure where all these half loaf bocadillos are ending up, but I seem to have eaten quite a few and I'm still losing weight.
Given the speed of the first kilometres I had to revisit my original target as I had plenty of time. I decided to speed up slightly and scratch six kilometres of the total.
I did try to book ahead, but as with many of the phones on the guide, either there was no reply or it was no longer valid. So I had to get to Villalcazar as soon as my legs allowed
As I left Fromista I decided to jog a bit for four kilometres. I would jog 500 metres, and walk 500. The main issue was the rucksack banging around, if not I would have continued jogging along the flat paths.
At the town of Poblacion the Camino divides in two, with most of the people taking the noisier one along the rural road, and which is one kilometre less. I joined them in hope of guaranteeing a bed.
I kept my pace as fast as possible, only stopping to stretch once in a rest area as my left leg continued to complain.
The disheartening thing about walking along the Meseta is that you can see the next village from the distance, but you keep walking and walking and it only moves very slowly towards you.
I finally arrived at Villalcazar and really hoped I could stay there. I had no more energies to keep going, and wanted to rest my legs. I knew there was 3 albergues and 2 hostales in the village so I would be unlucky not to get a place
I walked into the Plaza Mayor and it was crowded with pilgrims. I nervously continued to the private albergue, which was also crowded outside. I entered the bar and with a sorry face asked if there were any beds left. "You are the first one today" she said!
So everyone outside was just having lunch and continuing. Once in the room I was glad to have "fallen" there, as I had my own large bed (not bunk bed) and sufficient time to reorganise the rest of beds before others arrived in order to have more comfort for myself. (7 euros)
As an added luxury I used and abused the powerful hot shower - probably the longest one up to now. I definitely needed it as the fast pace left me smelling like an old vinegar bottle.
I had a Menu Peregrino at the same albergue bar, and although on the light side for the hunger I had after the walk, it was sufficient to get me on a good siesta mode which I duly practised.
The road workers, who ate at the same bar, also enjoyed for 10 euro: a mixed salad, filete de ternera, natillas, wine, water, bread.
I will be looking around different towns for a pharmacy that sells a muscle cream or similar. I have plenty of the basic kit for blisters, but not anything to help with tired muscles.
One would think that they would sell this stuff in every albergue along the way, but one would be wrong!
I have used two elastoplasts in 17 days, and one of them was actually used to repair my blackberry loader cable as it has suffered a cut at some stage.
The best job ever is the one of the shop owner at Villalcazar. It only opens from 7 to 8pm, sells everything and then closes. There was a huge cue of pilgrims outside to buy basics.
I went for a couple of cans, some bread and a couple of large slices of queso manchego - simply delicious
I thought I would eat everything, but with my tiredness I actually just ate the "ensaladilla rusa" and went to bed. Great as it left plenty of food for lunch on the Meseta tomorrow.
I probably had spoilt my appetite by having a coffee and a slice of cheesecake next to the church. There I met a Spanish chap who was walking (and sleeping) with a Uruguayan girl he had met two nights before. They do suit each other, quite wide bodies and curly hair. He has a ridiculous goatee which is about twenty centimetres long - and I guess been tinted orange doesn't help.
He was staying in a different albergue and mentioned that a russian girl had proposed to pass a candle around in order to talk about the reasons for doing the Camino. I giggled silently and wished him a good evening! That must have been the Ukranian-Catalonian for sure!
I organised my day for tomorrow by booking a bed at an albergue in Ledigo (22kms). As I was doing that, the two danish ladies (mother and daughter) walked in an chatted about how they were struggling on the Camino. They were doing the second part this year, having done the first one last year. However they had been able to walk into any albergue at 4pm last year without any issues.
I asked them where they wanted to go and booked two beds for tomorrow. They appreciated the effort and promised not to snore too loudly at night.
I fell asleep at 9pm listening to the first rains since Logrono.