Timing can be everything. On the Camino, it is standard practice that you must be out of the Albergues by 8am, sometimes even by 7:30. And, you cannot arrive before 1 pm, as most are closed until then. If you want to wash and dry your clothes you need to be at the albergue before 3 to give your clothes an hour or two of sunshine in order to be dry by morning.
If you need to shop you have to do it after 10:30 and before 2 or between 4 and 7. Stores close between 2 and 4. Dinner is rarely before 7. If you need to buy a speciality item like walking shoes you need to be in a large enough town. All of this timing needs to be coordinated with your walking schedule.
So today I needed to buy another pair of shoes. My new pair were okay but had created a different set of blisters. Not as bad as my heal blisters but sore. Surely I could find a pair that would be blister-free? We were headed to Burgos, a large enough town to have a choice of shoe stores. If we got there before 2, then we could continue on to the next small town for the night. But it became apparent we couldn’t make it in that time. No problem, we can shop in the evening and stay at the municipal albergue, so we slowed our pace and walked along the river. So did everyone else. Apparently, it was a holiday.
I walked the last few kilometres with Paul, a dermatologist. He is with an organized tour group. The tour operators make all the arrangements – hotel, food; they even meet them with a refreshment van along the way etc. A nice way to travel. He told me how to treat blisters: tape the hotspots before blisters form. If a blister forms, add more tape (Leuktotape is a good brand). If the blister breaks open by itself, add more tape. Don’t break the blisters open. ‘Why would you want to do that?’
As we walk, I am limping a bit. My feet are so sore. Linda changes into her sandals and suggests I do the same but something tells me my feet are better off in the runners than sandals for the last 5 km.
At the albergue, they told us all the stores are closed for the day due to the National, so we missed our shopping window of opportunity.
This puts us back a half day of walking! And, for goodness sake, the national holiday is Columbus day, celebrating Christopher Columbus heading for America! Celebrating Columbus’s ‘discovery’ of North America is not something the indigenous people already living in N.A. appreciate.
While we were booking in I put my pack on a bench in the hall and went I picked it up I was mortified that it had peed all over the bench. I meant to clean it up. Honestly, but our hostess who didn’t speak English was beaconing us to follow her and I rushed to keep up. It was the sight of the shoe rack five vertical drawers 8ft high that pull out of the wall where you place your boots that drove the pee out of my mind. It wasn’t until relaxing at dinner later that I remembered.
Steffen was there, sitting at the bar across the street from the Albergue with the Israeli man and a young man Rob whom Steffen had met on the bus to Burgos three days ago. Near him were the German Knave, his Jester and the Swiss Viking along with a couple of pretty women whom they had hooked up with a few days ago. Stacey was at a nearby table, and Brad waved as he walked by. The Camino world is small, the path narrow and we don’t stray far from it. The Israeli man, the Knave, his Jester and Marta (from near Barcelona) were all finishing their time on the Camino at Burgos, so this was their last night.
We go for dinner. Rob (New York), a strong young man was here recovering from an overused archilles heel injury, knows a good hamburger place. But it is closed, and we lose Steffen and Mats to fellow peregrinas that we pass on our search for food. At dinner, in a plaza, Linda and I spotted the two pretty women go by and thought the boys should be close behind. Sure enough a few minutes later the Knave walked by – in his bare feet. Another minute later, the Jester and Viking followed.
Our reunited pilgrim family sat on a bench outside the albergue until Mats and I started to fall asleep @8:30 and we trundled up to our bunks leaving Linda and Steffen to chat. This municipal albergue was newly renovated. As bunk houses go, this place was one of the best. Five floors with each floor having two or three dorm rooms. Six to eight aisles of bunks per dorm. Two bunks (4 beds) to an aisle with a block of storage cupboards between each tier. Each bunk had its own electric hookup and light near the pillow. Around the end of the bunks was a wall and on the other side of the wall a sink. Showers and toilets along the back corridor. Mats prefers the lower bunk as he can stretch a bungee cord across the top. He then hangs his towel and some clothes from it and has a nice private cocoon. I try to do that on my bunk bed, but I just achieve a line with a dip where all my clothes gather in a hung heap.
Tomorrow we plan on walking together as a Camino family again.
I fell fast asleep and didn’t even hear Linda climb into the bunk above me although at one point I woke up to hear a commotion (a drunk?) and worried that Linda might have missed the 10 o’clock curfew but I saw her shoes and fell asleep until the usual whispering 5am voices, plastic bags crinkling and peregrinos hurrying out to be the first on the road. At 7:15 a volunteer walks through the corridors welcoming everyone to the new day. We all get the hint and those still in their sleeping bags get up. You have to be out by 8.
Time on trail: 7hrs
Weather: Sun but not too hot.
Distance travelled: 20 km
Distance to go: 490 km
Food: tortilla, apple, pork rind (very good) undercooked burger. Yuk.
Feeling: lonely despite once again a Camino Family. Weird.
Aches and pains: sore feet! Blisters hurting. Can’t wait to get another pair of shoes!