Carrion de los Condes to Calzadilla de la Cueza
That morning, I stopped in a café/bar to have breakfast. As usual,
all that was available was coffee, donuts, bollos (rolls), and
danish pastry. I had heard that along the 17 K to the next albergue
there were no cafes or restaurants so I decided that I should eat something
and had a danish pastry.
When they said that there was nothing for 17 K, they meant nothing!
Not a city, not a village, not a house! Only a couple of deserted barns.
The constant wind in the face and the occasional rain made the 17 K
walk along a flat and non-changing countryside very unpleasant. I felt
like the kids in the back seat of the car saying, "Daddy, are we
there yet?" Instead, it was, "Oh, God, are we there yet?"
So after a miserable four and a half hours, I reached the albergue.
There was plenty of time left. The weather had improved and I should
have gone further. I felt guilty for not doing so, but my feet were
sore and all my clothes were dirty and wet. Soon Gudrun came into the
albergue. She too had had enough for one day.
I was so tired that after I changed out of my wet clothes, I crawled
into the bunk and immediately fell asleep. After an hour and a half,
I was rested enough to get up and do my laundry.
It was too early for dinner, so I asked Gundrun to join me at the bar
for a drink. Gudrun then left to call home to resolve a problem she
had with her bank card. I was about to leave when two other pilgrims,
Vincente from Madrid and MiguelAngel from Alicante, asked me to join
them for a drink. Thinking myself an ambassador from the United States,
I felt obliged to comply. Soon another man, Chris from Los Angeles,
Before long it was dinnertime and we marched en mass into the dining
room. We were joined by Gudrun and a young man named Cormack. He was
from Ireland and had that twinkle in his eye that let you know that
he really was a leprechaun.
Another group of pilgrims came into the dining room, including two young
women. Seated between them was the thirty-something hospitalero.
It soon became obvious that his volunteer job as a caretaker of an albergue
was motivated by other than religious or altruistic reasons.
Usually an albergue is quiet by nine o'clock, with the lights
out at ten. But this night there was rock-and-roll music with dancing
until eleven. Then the lights went out but a scented candle was left
burning. After about twenty minutes, I couldn't stand the smell any
more and quietly got up and blew out the candle. As I crawled back into
bed, I think I heard someone whisper, "Thank you!"