September 13th 2014 – Day 10
Azofra to Redecilla del Camino, 27km
Today was my penultimate day. And I had a choice whether to make it a long one or short one. Do I walk to Granon and finish up after 22km or continue to Redecilla del Camino and 27km? By walking a long-ish day today, I would have an easy day into Belorado tomorrow. I also had the choice of sticking around with the guys in this albergue and staying in Granon, where they had planned on staying or moving on to the unknown.
I woke up early as usual. I had a great sleep in probably the best albergues I had stayed in. Apart from the poor wifi, it was fine. No bunks as well..actual beds, so make sure you stop by here if you can! My German friend in the bed beside me was snoring to his heart’s content so I left him quietly and moved on out. I had bought some fruit the evening before so I was sorted. The next town after Azofra was Ciruena, about 9km onwards. It was 5,30 when I moved on, the sky was pitch black but there were a good number of pilgrims out and about. I was expecting some rain today, the first of this Camino. I didn’t mind it, as long as it wasn’t heavy.
It isn’t long before you are back on dirt tracks again once you leave Azofra, Last year, I walked with an extra kilo of mud on my feet due to heavy rain, but today I walked with a crisp under foot. My black boots were unrecognisable now as they had turned to a shade of dark red. I had walked much of the morning alone, and I didn’t mind. I had enjoyed the company over the last week but sometimes your own company is healthy. I walked 9km in just over an hour and a half. It’s amazing how fast you can go with some good music in your ears. I passed alot of people this morning, none whom I recognised. I also knew David, Leslie and Bob were staying in Ciruena, the next town, so I hoped to see them.
I reached Ciruena and it was still dark, but the sun was rising. No clouds in the sky. I remembered my time here last year passing the vast housing estate beside the golf course. As far away from a Camino town as you can go. I try to imagine living here but can’t. Finding the way out of this town is pretty difficult and I become lost again. I take a road out and lose all sight of arrows….I retrace my steps. Gps even fails. I can’t even see the albergue although I see a sign pointing me in it’s direction. Lost is not a great place to be hmm. But just as I walk backwards, I see a woman from England and she tells me “It’s that way”, pointing me in the right way. I thank her and move on. I notice she was carrying the Brierley guide. The same guide that is sitting inside my pack. How lazy of me!
Moving on I meet Liam from Belfast. A tall stocky guy. He had walked from St Jean, but a day after me. He is hobbling but determined. He tells me he was in British Army and had served in Afghanistan so the Camino is a walk in the park. I can well believe him. We talk for an hour or so until he tells me he needs to stop and look at a new blister that is bothering him. I can see Santo Domingo de la Calzada in the distance so hopefully I can find a cafe con leche somewhere. The sun is up now and it is approaching 8am. Santo Domingo is quiet when I arrive, all its pilgrims have moved on and the last few stragglers are checking out of the albergue as I pass it by. I’m delighted to meet Christina again. I haven’t seen her since Ventosa. She splashed out and stayed in the Parador the previous night. She, like me, was looking for an open cafe. I couldn’t find one unfortunately. Maybe as it is Sunday?
I leave Santo Domingo a little after half 8, after resting for a bit. I enjoyed my time there last year. I remember speaking to the hospitalera in the albergue who knew of my home town, even though she is from France. The church with the chicken and the hen was closed unfortunately. I walk alone for an hour or so until I reach Granon. It is still mid-morning and I had completed 22km. The first thing I see when I enter the town is it’s large church..and then a cafe! I walk right to the cafe and order a cafe con leche and an aquarius…as I do every morning. There was a large crowd sitting down outside the cafe, I didn’t know any of them. It felt good to be a stranger again. I kept looking for Liam from a few hours back, or even some of the crowd from the previous night in Azofra. I have David, Leslie and Bob in the back of my mind today also.
It wasn’t long before I hear Liam..”What about ye?!! in a northern Irish dulcet tone. He was glad to see a cafe, like myself, so he sat down and had a cafe con leche. I didn’t mind sitting down for a little longer. The blisters were bothering him and he was considering buying a new pair of shoes in Burgos. I definitely know what he means. I had the same problem back in 2012. About twenty minutes later, I see Bob and Dave wander into the town. Now I didn’t expect to see them again! They both sat down and sipped on a drink. I asked about Leslie and why she wasn’t with them? She had taken a bus to the next albergue as she had problems walking. Bummer!
I reckon I spent the bones of an hour sitting in the same chair at the cafe in Granon. Soaking up the atmosphere, drinking and saying hello to everyone going by. Time meant nothing to me! I was due to finish up the following day and I didn’t want it to end. I was hoping the remaining day and a bit would drag out. We left Granon; Bob, Dave, Liam and myself. The next 3 or 4 kms were uninteresting. We were walking alongside a road and the terrain was flat. It was great to be chatting to the lads again however. Liam fell behind after a while before we reached the border to Castille y Leon, which is the largest province of Spain. The first town we encountered was Redecilla del Camino, which is just off a main road. It literally is a road which consists of a restaurant, a hotel, an albergue and a church. A number of houses lie off the main road. The albergue “Albergue municipal San Lázaro” has 52 bunk beds and is a steal at €5. It wasn’t open when I arrived so myself Bob and Dave waited outside the bar and had a drink and a snack. One last Coca Cola before my last day tomorrow.
Eventually the albergue opened at 1pm and I said goodbye to the lads. They had beds booked in Viloria de Rioja, the next town. I’m quite happy to “ad-lib” the Camino. Some people like to book in advance, but I prefer to let the Camino provide for me. I was very lucky with the weather also, as just as I entered the albergue, the heavens opened. I had dinner in the bar down the road and more good people, new people. The next day is my final day, 12km to Belorado.