I left Hontanas in the rain. This is becoming so familiar. Slog, slog, slog. Too bad about the rain as it was a lovely walk, but I had to keep the camera packed to protect it.
The walk to Castrojériz followed a road for a good portion, but the trees were pleasant and there wasn’t too much traffic. My legs were quiet painful, and my left shin was really giving me problems today. It has swollen up a fair bit too and I’m afraid that I may have either shin splints or tendonitis.
As I walked down the road I could see Castrojériz slowly grow larger in the distance. It is a stunning building and I cursed again that my camera was in the middle of my pack. I stopped at a café that is right beside Castrojériz and said hi to Keith who was just leaving. I sat with Morag and Peter for some café con leche and bocadillos. We were outside a porch, warming up as best we could with cafés and relaxing. There were a fair number of other pilgrims there and the mood seemed a bit subdued. Too grey for too long I think. I set out again.
Just past Castrojériz, I encountered an old raised Roman road. It had been updated a little on the top to keep things together, but none the less it was a cool feeling to walk along it. It rose a good five feet above the surrounding terrain and you could see the tactical advantage this would give travelling soldiers. It easily outweighed the fact that it made you somewhat obvious. Hard to sneak along a raised road, but then again, I don’t think sneaking was a standard Roman tactic. I could be wrong.
Just past the Roman road section, the Camino raises high and sharp to the meseta above. I had some trouble moving up the incline and had to stop several times along the way. Thankfully, the trail at this point is well covered in gravel. I can’t imagine what it would have been like going up that incline if it were covered in mud. I rested at the top, then began a long walk across somewhat rolling plains. This part of the walk was riddled with pools of rainwater and mud and I found it hard going. I stopped to take some extra codeine.
I stopped in on a café in Itero de la Vega to get out of the rain and to have a café con leche and some food. As I arrived, I bumped into Keith and Danny as they were heading out. We chatted and laughed a bit while I helped them get their raingear on. Then Keith, being the wonderful man that he is, started to dance around his walking stick while singing the classic rain song; Singing in the Rain. We all had a great laugh and several incoming pilgrim replaced their tired frowns with smiles. Well, except for one German pilgrim who just gave Keith a frown and muttered “Not normal” which of course made people laugh even more. Peter and Morag arrived as I was ordering so we joined each other for a meal and to dry out.
Along this part of the path I met an interesting man, whose name I unfortunately remember. He is, if my memory can be trusted, a Dane and, from what I can tell, rather highly placed in the Schweppes company. I told him that Sandy and I love Schweppes and that it is the only brand of tonic and club soda we drink. He seemed pleased and we walked together for an hour or so until I noted that I was holding him back and I suggested he head on without me.
The last part of the day to Fromista was very painful and I could feel it getting worse with each step. Peter and Morag passed me and expressed some concern, but there is little that could be done. I told them I’d meet up to them in Fromista. When I arrived, the last of our little group, I found the pensione we had booked. Keith was drying out in our room, Danny, Birgit, Peter and Morag were doing the same in their respective rooms. I stuffed my boots with newspaper and had a much-needed hot shower followed by more painkillers, followed by cerveza.
Keith, Birgit, Danny and I then went out to visit the famous Fromista cheese museum. It was interesting, if somewhat underwhelming. It did however serve a nice cheese plate and Birgit treated us to a bottle of red wine. Peter and Morag joined us and we relaxed with the wine until we decided it was time to visit the church, Iglesia de San Martin. The church was lovely and the carvings were quiet extraordinary, in my opinion. Later we went out for dinner and had some lovely garlic soup, followed up with a bottle of wine in Keith’s and my room. We discussed our plans for the next day. Morag and Peter were going to do the 37 km stretch, Danny and Birgit the 20, and Keith was undecided and intended to play it by ear. I had to make the difficult choice of moving on by foot or moving my train and resting.
I debated the pros and cons with my walking companions, and I came to the conclusion that I need to give my body a rest for a day or two. I have been in pain since Zubiri and the shin splints (or tendonitis) are getting worse. I barely made the 35 km to Fromista. It was a difficult choice for me.
As Keith said (paraphrased), “You’ve damned well walked over 350 km in pain, take a rest. Are you walking for pride, or for other reasons?”
But as I think on it, one of the many reasons I decided to do the Camino was that I often play things by rote and cautiously. Here I was forced to change a plan (with a certain amount of anxiety), adapt, and move on. In some ways this was part of my Camino, walked or not. I do hope that it will not have to be repeated though as I really have the hankering for a good walk already.
I was beating myself up a fair bit about it, but it seems the best solution is to take the train to Sahagun, rest a day while waiting for my walking group to catch up, and then try walking again. It means I miss about 50 km of the entire walk, but really that isn’t much. Cross your fingers for me.
So that is that. My train leaves at 8:00am and I should be back on the road in a few days.