This is my first shot of the day, X-Files scary, 4.30am camino arrow hunting outside Santo Domingo took me down some hairy lanes. On seeing this cross I was just too creeped out and decided to wait for other pilgrims to show up. Why are crosses in the dark scary but crosses in the light hopeful? And, Why was I up so early?
Last night I had 4 hours sleep. Intermittent, top bunk, squeaky bed frame, sleep. Lack of sleep makes me pretty emotional as I’ve already explained and last night, in between the snores and weird chicken sounds (what do they do at night?) my mind was talking trash and I was able to finally let go of some things I guess I am supposed to officially ditch at Cruz de Ferro, but like I explained last week, I haven’t brought a stone with me.
Let go; Let God? Well, I was reluctant to let my shit go entirely and God had a struggle to take my troubles from me, but in the end, tired and emotional, I relented and was told to hand it over; ‘the struggle is over‘. I, like almost every pilgrim I speak to, have been holding onto my personal ‘unhappy me’ story for the last year and today I’m relieved to have dumped it, finally, in Santo Domingo, part of the reason for my camino in the first place. I have much more exciting times ahead in Cruz de Ferro anyway. Plus, the irony of leaving my recent past in a city entirely devoted to cocks and chickens has not escaped me. God is funny.
So, camino day 12 (?) got up/dressed and out the albergue and set to walk by 4.30am, went the wrong way for a couple of kilometres in the dark, played catch with a dog for a few minutes, walked for a km with dog slobber on my hand, ate two bananas (wiped off dog slobber first), paddled in a swimming pool and sobbed in agony over the ridiculous terrain of cement lined with stones (gravel) which made up most of the Camino section today. I also changed my insoles.
Ive always disliked gravel, dislike the thing, dislike the word, it has ‘grave’ in it and if you change a vowel becomes ‘grovel’. After today’s torturous hike over it in millimetre thin insoles, I now officially hate it. I am plotting revenge on gravel all over the world.
As painful as walking for 25k on gravel is, after my brain sent pain to my feet advising me, first gently and then gradually increasing the pain level to stop (£)@+>€ walking on it, but finally realising I was not going to listen, the brain decided to simply shut off all feeling to my feet. They went numb – and again, though for entirely different reasons; the suffering was over. And I even started to run. Like a teenage Forrest Gump breaking out of his braces but less graceful. This is the story of my camino.
I’m now in Belorado about 50km East of Burgos. Like all towns for the last 100km or so all the churches are ridiculously impressive and all their roofs are complete with fabulously heavy and intricate looking stork nests. I’ve yet to see a stork, boo. Not even a little one! Above are some photos of the town.
The Albergue I chose today, the Santiago, is the best yet. We’ve got a swimming pool, I’ve bagged the bottom bunk, top grub in the Pilgrim menu for a tenner and €7 for an 8 man room. And it’s empty. I have no idea what other pilgrims want from an albergue because they all make a beeline for the municipals to save a euro or two. Totally not worth it in my book but I want to stay in at least a couple of the church albergues and fancy I’ll do so when the heat cranks up to Scorchio.
Tomorrow is 3 peak San Juan; if it’s on gravel I fear I may not survive. Then; mighty Burgos where I have a surprise in store for me. That is, if I go in the right direction. The sign at the start of today gave a happy 555k to Santiago, yet 4 hours later…