Day 19, Carrión to San Nicolas del Real Camino, Oct 17

Thomas felt the need to walk at a faster pace today, so he was off and away early.  Rob had a schedule to keep, wanting to be at Finisterre (three days past Santiago) for his brother’s birthday, November 1, and he had lost three days while recovering in Burgos.  I don’t know how or when his brother had died, but Rob was committed to this date, so Rob was taking a bus to León to keep on schedule. 
Rob had been happy to join us back in Burgos. I had wondered why when he could have joined up with younger pilgrims closer to his age.  I thought he would connect up with Dee and walk with her, but he stayed with us.  His parents had moved from the USA to Portugal last year just before he graduated university and took time off for the Camino.  ‘So I don’t have a home to go back to.’  I think Rob was missing his family and our Camino family was a good substitute.
We were quiet without them.
Crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, chrunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, chrunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, chrunch, crunch, crunch, crunch,
crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch. 
This is the sound of the loose gravel under our feet.  All day long.
Accompanied by clickety-clack clickety -clack clickety -clack clickety-clack of my walking sticks. One of them makes a different noise.
We have a rhythm. At some point, Mats takes the lead. His pace is steady. I am usually behind him, sometimes as much as 50 ft. sometimes five ft. Then Linda, not because she is slow but because she prefers the peace and quiet, and my poles, which I have named Clickety and Clack, do not create a peaceful atmosphere.
Crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch,
After 18 kilometres of nothing, just flat fields in gentle low hills and the only sound is our crunching; we arrive at Calzadilla de la Cueza where we had sent our shared bag to on the luggage service. Mats was there already sitting with a tall, well-muscled man in his late 30’s, made taller with a light green turban wrapped around his head and twisted to drape loosely around his neck like Lawrence of Arabia. Lawrence had taken a year sabbatical from his job, something in the communications field.
Calzadilla has a population of 60 and other than this bar and the albergue next door, looks and feels isolated.  Linda arrives and quietly announces to me “I’m not staying here!’  While Mats and Lawrence of Arabia are conversing, I reply ‘We don’t have to.  We can pick up our bag, repack it and continue on.’
They say that somewhere on the Camino you will have a day or two where you want to go home, or you question why you are here, or the aches and pains wear you down into an unhappy place.  Linda was in that place.  I think she was deeply missing Thomas’s cheery bantering and Rob’s youthful happiness to be with us. On top of that, it was cooling, and the skies were darkening, dreary, and Linda admitted to having a very sore hip ‘osteoarthritis.’ No wonder she wasn’t happy, she was in pain. I joined her in swallowing an Ibuprofen, and we continued on.

crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch,

It poured just as we entered a small town with a bar that served good coffee. Mats had a glass of  Pacharán, a Basque drink made locally, and we are in Basque country. ‘Pacharán is the perfect drink for a day like today.  A German man I walked with for a few days on my last Camino introduced me to it.’ To me, it tastes like Buckley’s cough syrup but thinner. It was good timing as the rain stopped when we left. This town declares itself as the halfway point. I guess it depends on how you measure.
crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch.
Today we thought we would do 26k, but there was no room at the inn. There was a happy Stacey in her new trousers and the Viking who were smoking outside the only albergue in town and the place we wanted to stay.  She gave us the bad news. ‘Completo’ full! We had a choice walk back 1.5 k or walk ahead 3k. Mats declared ‘You never go back; you walk forward.’ Linda wasn’t convinced: 1.5 km was half the distance of 3 km. Lawrence of Arabia arrived as we debated. We didn’t want to go another 3 k to the next village only to find they too were out of beds and Lawrence of Arabia kindly phoned ahead and reserved 3 beds for us, and off we went.
crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch.
The door was held open for us by a man from Cobble Hill, 45 minutes from my home. This was a private albergue and had small dorms for pilgrims and private rooms.  The two couples from Cobble Hill were walking the Camino but staying at hotels or albergues that were catering to those who want privacy and more comforts.  We opted for the standard pilgrim accommodation: the dorm, but in this case, the dorm turned out to be a room with two bunks (4 beds) and an alcove with another bunk bed which someone had claimed the lower bunk.  We had the best shower here but turned down an opportunity to spend $15 for 30 minutes in a jacuzzi.
We are tired!
Time on trail:12 hours.
Weather: overcast, light sprinkling, then hard rain just before the end. Temperature and wind were perfect.
Distance travelled: 29.1! Longest distance/day so far
Distance to go: 380.5k to go!
Food: café con leche, croissant, hard boiled egg, 2 sausages, apple, clementine, veal stew, salad, almond cake
Lesson learned: have a goal, be prepared to change it and back it up with a plan B
Feeling: amazed that I managed to do 30k!

Aches and pains: new blister (right outside heel). Sore inner thighs from yesterday when shorts rubbed.

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