Day 20, 2017 Castrojeriz to Boadilla del Camino

THE STROLL

On long journeys,

neither the ups nor the downs

are more difficult.

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Departed at 6:30 AM

My guidebook indicated it would take four hours to Boadillla but slow walking, a gigantic hill and several stops added a couple more.

I think I was the first one out the door this morning. I was just laying there waiting for daybreak because the snorers were in full force! I got little sleep; I couldn't get away fast enough.

I left in the dark. My poles clicked on the cobblestone. The rooster crowed, the birds sung, the bell tolled, but the streets were quiet. I knew this route. There was a hill coming...a big hill. So I took it slow. I thought of it as a stroll.

After the meseta mountain was tackled there was still an 18% downhill grade to contend with. I took note, believing this was where I strained my tendon last year, moving way too fast. I went slowly and even walked backwards.

All along the way I tapped the tip of my pole on stone Camino markers with cairns atop as a simple hello to mom. Last year I randomly left blue beads on some and although time had passed, I still looked for a bead...and thought what joy it would bring if I saw one.

An old man walked toward me on the road and stopped. In Spanish, he excitedly told me what a beautiful day it was to be walking to Santiago. "Estupendo", he said; then, "buen camino". The Spanish take such pride in this journey. It was amazing to witness.

There was another man out on a tractor, tilling the earth between rows of grapevines. I could smell the rich, chocolate-colored soil and was reminded of the "home-brew festival" up ahead in Galicia. Some crops haven't yet been planted, but some are already coming up. Soon, manure will be mixed with water and sprayed as fertilizer... quite the olfactory delight. It's a festival... maybe better missed. For now, sprinklers and pivots worked to irrigate the crops and atop two of the posts sat Heckle and Jekyll...I wondered, were they crows or magpies?

Shade on the left side of the road gave momentary reprieve from the small, swarming pests that like to attack the face. Some pilgrims wore bandanas over their nose and mouth. Me, I just pressed on, staying left as much as possible.

I loved this walk today! I had no urge to put in my earbuds. The sound of birds, tractors and sometimes even conversations behind me were my music. And, the snails were out. Their speed reminded me again to go slowly as they made their way across the road. It occured to me that I, like them, carried my home on my back.

Over the hill I could see my final destination. It looked close but it was still maybe 4km away.  I knew the place where I would lay my head. After last night's snore fest, I needed a good night's sleep so I stayed in the hotel I did the year before. Thoughts of a warm shower, a home cooked meal and comfortable bed, made my pace quicken...ever so slightly. 

One either likes or dislikes the monotony of the flat, tedious landscape with it's occasional, steep hill that is the Meseta. The rhythm of pole and step can cause one's mind to wander and allow memories, sometimes long forgotten to rise to the surface. I am generally a reflective person so I welcomed what the Meseta offered. It all provided an opportunity to do what I already like to do...remember and make sense of things. So, I strolled on with a big smile and even an occasional whistle.