Today was the day we were warned about. 30km and the last 10 or so of pure nothing; a road, no shade, no trees, no views, no stops, no water fountains that are so ubiquitous on the camino. I was nervous about today so I decided to confront my fear head on. I woke up early, got ready at lightening speed (I tend to suffer from potter-itis) and hit that road like my backside was on fire (actually it has been but that's another story). No time to take the daily photo of the sunrise kissing the village we left, just me, my rucksack, my sticks and my ever trusty feet taking me forward. I walked 11km by about 9.15am. I felt alive, energised, inspired- my walking mojo had returned and I was burning up the road, leaving a trail of german men behind me.
These little legs of mine
They're gonna help me fly!
Stopped in Carrion de Los Condes for refuelling - a cafe con leche and a madelena. Liz and I raided the tiny supermarket for pan, tomate, jamon, queso de Castilla (I asked for manchego and the assistant gave me stink eye - not in castilla Señorita!) a bit of olive oil, juicy nectarines, Nuts, more madelenas, a tonne of water and nocilla. Nocilla is the Spanish equivalent of nutella but half White and half brown and possibly my favourite food in the whole world. Seeing that Liz is a chocoholic like me I wanted her to try it. We distributed our groceries between us and agreed to push on until 1pm and then stop for a picnic. I don't think Liz thought I would take it that literally but I felt compelled to push on at full speed until dead on 1 where I set up camp by the dusty roadside and waited for Liz. We feasted on our picnic like it was food from heaven. It was absolutely delicious. Liz loved the nocilla and is now worried she has a new chocolate addiction. A small red cross van was the only vehicle on this desolate pilgrims-only roman road. They stopped next to us to check we were ok. We were ecstatic as we were mid feast! When we started up again and felt our feet were on fire and being smashed by little hammers all over again, we kept looking back wistfully at the road to see if we could get a lift with them but they never returned. The last hour and a half was even more barren and we couldn't see the destination village, the road just stretched on for infinity like that mirror illusion that just keeps repeating itself to infinity. We had gone through our water and were starting to get a little nervous. Then out of nowhere the road dipped down and we saw the town shimmering in the heat. As we neared I started to whoop with joy and wave my sticks around. We almost ran to the hosteleria who stood there waiting to welcome us in looking like he'd seen these sort of antics thousand times before. We slumped at the entrance drinking iced drinks from the machine and groaning with relief and happiness. In the garden of this humble albergue was a gorgeous little swimming pool and we were soon cooling off in that without a care in the world.
Today was a good reminder that happiness can spring from within. One of the hardest days on the road I found the most enjoyable. As we hit the half way mark today (400km) I remembered exactly why I was doing this. Freedom, simplicity, communion with god, nature, others, the odd swimming pool at the end of the desert. As hard as it is, as good it is also. It's is better to live one day fully alive than a thousand half dead.
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