September 14th 2014 – Day 11
Redecilla del Camino to Belorado, 12km
Every good thing must come to an end. You hear this all the time and it couldn’t have been more true for my final day. I had 12 km left and I would hang up my Camino boots for one more year. I was going to make sure the day was close enough to perfect. Oh how I wanted to keep walking..and the plan was to get to Burgos..but I had a flight to catch in Bilbao in 2 days time.
I woke up that final morning at around 6am, which is pretty late by my standards. Most of the albergue had vanished into the darkness and I was left to gather my few belongings. I chose to leave my pole there as I knew this stage was flat and there was no difficulty to it. It was only like 12 km..I have walked further back home in Ireland. I had some fruit that I bought in the local tienda the evening before and headed out the door. Alone. I had gotten to know a few people from dinner the night before and I had a feeling I would see them at some stage this day. Writing this now, I couldn’t tell you their names but there was a couple from Portland, another couple from Canada and James from New Zealand. James had walked from St Jean like myself and was walking to Santiago..unlike me. He had made plans to meet his daughter in Leon in three days time so he had a few days to spare. He was hoping to have a short day today as a result. I pointed out Belorado to him in his Brierley book and told him where I was staying. Hopefully I would see him later.
Anyway, it was close to half 6am when I left. My pace was non existent and I was stopping and starting every quarter an hour. I passed through various little towns but it was too early for anything to be open. The trail was a whole lot less quieter also compared to the first few days. Were people shooting ahead on buses or was I too late starting? Regardless I took advance of the quiet surroundings and took in my final few hours on the Camino. It’s sure better than walking into a busy Santiago de Compostela, I thought to myself. The terrain was rather unremarkable, I walked mainly alongside a road with grasslands the other side of me. The trail had a number of puddles on it too, from the rains the night before. A bonus was the clear sky. I wondered how long that would hold out for.
After close to three hours of walking, I reached Belorado. The entrance to the town is ugly to say the least but the Camino isn’t all a calkwalk. I was far too early. It was close to 10am and the albergue doesn’t open it’s doors until 12am so I stop off at the first albergue at the entrance to the town and have a cafe con leche. It was the longest cafe con leche I had drank but it was great to chill out. There were a number of other pilgrims have breakfast there, including a few I had met before. I gathered up my things, and moved further into the town. The albergue was closed and a sign told me that it was not open until 12. So I walked to the main plaza and chilled out there for a while. I met Cap, from Belgium, at the nearest cafe. We hadn’t met until leaving Torres del Rio. I had another cafe con leche and took it easy with her before heading back to wait for the albergue to open.
I didn’t mind waiting. I had music and I chatted to all the pilgrims as they passed me by. Most of them I knew. I had stayed in Cuatro Cantones last year and really enjoyed it. The family are super-helpful and I would recommend it to anyone (You can in fact read about my time there last year here). It holds 60 people, it has a pool and the family raises chickens!!! It wasn’t too long before I saw James from New Zealand. He has an incredibly relaxed pace and I don’t think I would last very long walking with him 🙂 He was walking with two German girls. He was more than happy to stop and wait for opening, however the German girls needed some convincing! They wanted to stay in the donativo in Tosantos a further 4km up the road. Just as we were talking, the owner’s daughter opened the door and said hello. I remembered her face from last year and I asked her straight away. “Do you remember last summer the day when the group from a college in Dublin stayed with you?” She had to really think about it, but she said yes, and mentioned it was one of her busiest days. I told her I stayed that night and I had a ball! She gave me a hug right there. The German girls decided to stay at that stage! It’s the little things!!
Later on that evening, I met Jason whom I met in St Jean before starting out. It was great to see him and find out how he was getting on. However, he was having some problems with blisters. I did my last washing, and had time for a couple of cervezas with James before dinner back in albergue. The night was filled with red wine, great conversation and hesitant planning for my return home. The next day I needed to get up early to catch a bus to Bilbao. My walking was over for another year but I knew I would be back. It was a matter of when rather than if.