Aaargh, another rainy morning. I have slept well, the bed was lovely!, but still, I wake up feeling bone tired. Maybe it’s the weather, maybe it’s the long day yesterday, maybe it’s the many days of walking catching up with me – it’ll pass. I let my new friends go on ahead and linger in the bar downstairs over not one, but two cafés con leche, and an Aquarius for hydration and pep, and a chocolate croissant for a treat, and tortilla for energy … nothing works, and the rain lashes down. In the end I put music in my ears and push myself out the doors.
Today is one of those days on the camino when it feels like a chore. It is wet, it is cold, it is windy, I feel alone and exposed in my poncho trudging along the gravel path in the rubbish weather, and it makes me wonder what on earth I am doing here, what is the point of this, why am I not sitting in a taxi, why am I not tucked up in a hotel bed – or my own, at home? I can’t quite remember why I was looking forward to this or why I wanted to do it again, and I grumble and trudge, grumble and trudge through the rain.
After only three kms I stop at the café in Terradillos; today is going to be all about the stops and not the walk. The other pilgrims in there are also damp and cold, but seem a lot livelier. It cheers me up enough to get back out there. I try without music, try to be mindful and present in the moment, as we’re all supposed to be now, but my brain rebels and starts playing its own music.
Another three kms takes me to Moratinos, and another stop – this time I sit down with a Dutch lady I have met before, and who is radiating with positive energy – she started from St Jean and is camino stoned by now, so I hook my misery on to her positivity and feel better already. And I keep a look out in case Rebekah from The Peaceable Kingdom should drop by so I can thank her for her good works for pilgrims and tell her I enjoyed her book The Moorish Whore, so I tell the Dutch lady about it … and just like that, my grudge has trudged off and even taken the rain with it.
The Dutch lady walks too slowly for me, but I enjoy staying with her until the next stop, where she meets friends and stays while I carry on. No hard feelings; we all walk our own camino our own way and at our own pace, and we’ll probably meet again somewhere down the line. See, I can do the present-in-the-moment, letting-go thing. I can even ignore my wet shoes.
Outside Sahagún is a small chapel surrounded by trees, and two stone statues either side of the trail marking the official half-way point of the Francés. In Sahagún you can actually get a half-way certificate too, from the Santuario de la Peregrina on the left hand side leaving town.
After this little beauty spot it’s pretty much just straight ahead, through some grey and awful suburbs. I’d like to find a bar to rest for a minute, but I keep chasing the arrows and before I know it I am in town proper. There is a bar with a wedge shaped outdoor area shaded by trees right in front of me and I go for it. While I drink my anchor beer in the shade, I check my guidebook to see if there are any rooms nearby, and there seems to be a hostal just around the corner. And they have a room. A lovely room where I can lock and unlock the door, shower as long as I like, dry my shoes in front of the radiator, hang my laundry over the shower rail, sleep in tomorrow … and they have a restaurant downstairs too! Yes. It is time for a camino treat.
Later I’ll stroll down to the albergue Santa Cruz, sightsee the San Tirso arch and see if anyone I know – or don’t know, yet – are sitting in the bar across the street before the communal meal. Then back to my room to make the most of it, have a meal downstairs and take an early night, check the weather to see when the rain is going to stop, and plan my next stages. Preferably short ones; León is already coming a little too close for comfort …