What does the fox say? Zaraquigui to Cirauqui 

Up with the larks, or probably the Torres’, the art of leaving the dorm quietly has yet to be perfected by my fellow pilgrims, but I’m confident as the camino winds on they’ll learn how not to scrape their scallop shells along the tile floor on leaving the room.
So then, out the door at 5.30 am and up to probably the most famous part of the camino, the Alto del Perdon to catch a spectacular sunrise. I am now guaranteed spiritual health for my remaining time on the camino just for reaching this point. Huzzah!

It looked like an easy 20k after that point. The guidebook I carry, the Brierley guide continues to be a master of understatement with mentions of ‘inclines’ and ‘gradients’ when what it actually means is ‘great chuffing mountain ranges’ that make you want to lie at the side of the road awaiting the sweet release of death… Or to catch your breath. Below you can find my low point of the day just before Cirauqui, in a slither of shade, lying in the road. Today was 35 degrees.

After yesterday’s lazy day I had planned on stopping in Puente la Reina (below) but arriving at 10.30 I just couldn’t justify hanging around for 2 hours for the alberge to open so pressed ahead another 8k to my final destination.

This alberge in Cirauqui, Maralotz, is lovely, opposite the church at the top of this hilltop town (what else!), the kind but stern lady informed me, in no uncertain terms, that if I’m outside of the alberge at 10pm, I’ll stay outside the alberge until 8am the following morning and that after lights out, there must be silence. I must look like trouble as the other pilgrims who arrived after me got no such warning! She must have heard about my boozy afternoon in Zaraquigui.

Aside from the heat and the hills, the distance was pretty doable and I felt good considering I walked 8 hours. I put this down to 2 things, firstly, growing in camino fitness and secondly, swapping the pork and pasta for bananas and nuts! It’s amazing the difference nutrition makes to your performance on the camino.
Today Im most grateful for my growing ability to listen to my body while on camino. Compared to being sat on my ass all day at work creating pointless reports, my mind and body is wholly focused on walking, peace and gratitude, this opens up the space to listen to your body and fuel it with what it needs, rather than sugary treats from the vending machine bought in blind anxiety and habit.

 Foolish moment of the day: halfway between Puente la Reina and Cirauqui, in a field with no shade at about 12pm I heard what I believed to be a small crying injured animal. I began looking in the corn fields for the unknown spanish creature but I could not find it. Poor thing. Everytime i sighed and gave up I could hear it again, this feint wheezing cry like a dying animal breathing its last.

I spent 10 minutes looking for the mouse/fox/badger/unknown spanish animal and decided to just give up, again, the moment I did so, the creature let out another cry. This was ridiculous!

I walked off and left it to die, justifying my actions as just one of natures cruel twists of fate, but then, at the top of the next ‘gentle incline’, again ‘harrumph-whoo’. Perhaps it was the ghost of departed animal come to haunt me for my callous abandonment?

No, alas, I had strapped my water bottle so tightly to my chest that any time i sighed or took deep breaths the bottle would give a little sigh, and admit a little cry, in sympathy.

Lesson of the day: what would you do even if you found the critter?

Even in the simplest towns in Spain you can find the most ornate, inspiring churches.

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