Friday, November 6, 2009

Burgos to Castrojerez

Its a long walk today but the thing we've learned is that it's not the distance but the terrain that counts so hope we'll be OK and if not can change the plan. Anyway the distance is not what's worrying me......we meet the thing I was dreading the most-my nemesis- the high, flat, deserted, silent Meseta-and guess what I love it!
Its like the sea big, blue and, once you tune into it, full of life, noise and colour -larks by the hundreds singing their hearts out only falling silent when a bird of prey crosses the horizon, all sorts of insects buzzing and clattering away, mice/voles? just caught in your peripheral vision, resilient wild flowers hunkered down against the sharp wind but still breaking into blossom, skys you can't believe-its like a blooming slide show each one better than the last so you move from azure to threatening to clear to "Oh my god that cloud is just like Mrs Drabble my junior school teacher" and then the next act comes up.
I'm dizzy with it and am probably driving Frances crazy with my 'spot, point and describe' response to everything/anything I see though actually I seem to be talking to myself as we walk 'together but apart' for long long sections.
Really able to get into the flow of just walking don't have to watch out for the surface or traffic or anything just walk I wish it could always be this natural. Wind is so cold it hurts but sun bright and clear so I will be sporting the beetroot look tomorrow as cream seems to disappear as fast as I slap it on so Pelerine Rouge it is.

Low stone walls of the meseta
The terrain poses a logistical problem for females looking for a 'Shrub Prive' - there are none and the walls are too low and ditches too shallow to provide an alternative-so whats a girl to do? In desperation I'm thinking of using my big green poncho as a sort of Burqa-like screen until Frances points out that a large florescent green pyramid hovering in a field will draw more attention, not only from pilgrims but from any military aircraft flying overhead or indeed passing satellites, than crouching off road-she has a point.
After an eye-crossing hour I just go for it instructing Frances to keep me posted and, if all else fails, "distract the buggers Frances" (not quite sure how she's meant to do this-throw rocks at them, start a discourse on Wild flowers of the Meseta or offer to show them her blisters-which are sort of intriguing? Maybe its a case of one, some or all of the above?)

It all would have worked perfectly but the tiny ant like figures who are "at least 5 minutes away Nell" have obviously taken some sort of performance enhancing energy bars and shave 4 minutes of the official ETA. Let a veil be drawn over the next 20 seconds.
My learning is :- Once you've committed to an action follow through to your own standards and don't compromise-if you do you will pay the price. I did and left was 'hitching and fixing' for the next hour. Motto of the day peregrinas "Pull up in haste-repent at leisure"!

Meseta en route to Hontanas

It reminds me of the the landscape around Ragusa in Sicily.

The cliche we have read about the little towns here becomes real and we seem to literally 'fall into Hontanas' which is endearingly scuffy (I must have a fondness for the ramshackle as this place has the same 'back of the shelf' feel as Najera and Belorado two other ugly ducking places I loved) Sitting sheltered from the wind in a little sun trap by the church we devour a fantastic tortilla bocadillo and buckets of coke/cafe con leche-life is good on the Meseta.


The Blister Sisters- We get off the boots and socks whenever we stop and 'free the Camino 10' (aka our toes) as we've given them a right hammering today. Had a great micro siesta at this spot outside Castrojerez and when we're resting 2 deer shot from left to right across the landscape leaping and cavorting all over the place-too fast and precious for a photo but I can still see them in my minds eye

Blister sisters take a break

Castrojerez is the longest village in Europe and our accommodation the far end of course! Between this spot and the next the wind died down and it got warm......

....then hot...(Frances and Sher)

....and then boiling!

Our siesta meant that Chuck and Sher, who we'd met in Hontanas, caught up with us and he asked again what I would do to 'make this place productive?' Well the landscape I was looking at was contoured with ancient terraces that have been 'productive' for a for over two thousand years. But I must say as I walked over the Meseta I kept thinking "I bet you could breed fast horses here and this ground would build good bone on them as well as providing great gallops". But surely this has been done if not why not?
Both pretty wrecked when we arrive and find the hostal has a bit of a Marie Celeste vibe about it. Meet up with two Irish lads, Des and Pat, retired teachers doing their Camino in sections and in this part they are also are walking to Leon for the baptism of a grandnephew! Des, a strong walker who has never had any trouble before, has really bad tendonitis but is determined to continue to Leon. We persuade him to consider the luggage transit option so at least he's not carrying a load, stressing out Pat and won't arrive at the church by ambulance!
We have dinner with them, Kwik Kate (jolly english lass we met en route to Burgos who whacks off 40 kms before breakfast and who is most likely to say " you know what? I think I might push on a bit" but who is now convinced we are stalking her as is seems to be that she/we stay(s) wherever we/she stay(s)) and the two German pilgrims we call 'Dads do the Camino' (DDC for short) .
I'm so glad we finally get to meet the German chaps as they seem to 'wear their pilgrimage lightly'. They are lovely guys who look as if the have just stepped out to take the dog for a walk, or perhaps go to a rugby match. Its low tech everything M & S checked shirts, regular chinos, small day packs and 'strong shoes'. They smoke-a little, drink spirits-not so little, stay up late- a lot, walk like Trojans talk the whole time and stop to see everything.
Though fast they are the antithesis of the 'speed is everything' Pilgrim Sportif (so often... German) and remind me of my uncle Tiso (Edward) an ex benedictine, ex army career man & the sort of chap you'd be glad to have around in a crisis e.g. terrorist attack/kidnapping/alien invasion.
As DDC started in Leon a few years ago they will be finishing their Camino there in 3/4 days, and I can imagine them on their return home just walking into the house and shouting "I'm home pet" handing over €20 to a sulky teenager and going out to cut the grass.

1 comment:

GerAnnPaSa said...

Entertaining and informative. The al fresco loo stop made me chuckle lots.