As long as the walk to Itero de la Vega seemed to be, the walk to Carrion de los Condes seemed short in contrast. It had little to do with actual distances and much more to do with purpose.
From Itero de la Vega, I had first thought that I would spend the night in Formista; you know make the day a short one, with minimal miles logged, so my blisters would have a good chance of healing faster. In Itero, I had a good opportunity to bare the feet and let them bake a bit in the mid-afternoon sun. It was dry and warm. Seemed to help quite a bit, and I did not want to inhibit the repair that was going on, so Formista, at about 14 kilometers, was a nice, short haul.
The weather was good. The sun came out early and didn’t go away for the remainder of the day; prompting an early departure with my jacket and overshirt. I felt good, really good. Something was stewing around inside my head, and I began to realize that my relationship with God is a two-way street. I had received much yesterday, and I wanted to give in return. It occurred to me that He had done much to strengthen my physical well-being and spiritual resolve.
The walk to Formista was punctuated by a long stretch of trail the paralleled the Canal del Castille; a canal project that is highlighted by the intense vegetation of trees, shrubbery, cattails, and flowers that were planted during the project to create a natural habitat. It was a beautiful walk of flora and fauna that included watching a couple of elderly gentlemen spend some patient time catching crawfish for the evening’s table.
Upon reaching Formista, and after a bocadillo (sandwich) at the cafeteria on the plaza, I began to see the end of my walk today; not in Formista, but in Carrion de los Condes. That’s ok. The town just up the road, except this “just up the road” was another 21 kilometers. Somehow the idea of 22 miles in a single day did not seem to intimidate me, but rather invigorate me. Trying to rationalize this thought, I decided to leave it as a “fleece” for God to decide. I’d go to the local church, sit and pray. If no sign is given to hold me in Formista, I go on to Carrion de los Condes. I’m heading for Carrion de los Condes.
The remaining stretch of 21 kilometers became a warm and sunny walk. I passed through the towns of Poblacion de Campos and Villavieco, before I turned my feet towards Villacazar. That leg was along a tree-lined, dirt path, with a left turn at a red-brick bridge, up past a monastery building, and on into the village. From there it was along the main highway straight up a long incline and then down to Carrion de los Condes.
By now it was nearly 3:00pm, and my first attempt to find a bed turned into failure at the Municipal Albergue. Luckily, before some concern began to set in, a young fellow came out to me, and with his good attempt at English, gave me directions to another Albergue; the Casa de Espiritu Santo. This facility was run by the nuns from the nearby convent, and there I found my bed. Praise the Lord! I didn’t have much left in the legs, and the idea of moving onto the next town – several kilometers away – just didn’t work well in the mind.
Espritu Santo turned out to be a blessing. The nuns gave a small service for the peregrinos at 5:00pm, which was an ecumenical service in which we all were asked to participate in through reading various verse, prayer or praise in our own languages. A good number showed up, and I do believe we all really enjoyed the very simple, unrehearsed nature of the service.
Soon afterwards I went on down to the wash tubs in the courtyard to do a bit of laundry, and it was there that I met Santiago. Now Santiago was a bicyclist, traveling with two friends; Victor and Evan. Victor was a most relaxed Spaniard, and Evan, a young, Spanish-speaking American who had recently enlisted in the Navy, was using the Camino as his swan-song prior to reporting for training. We all joined for dinner at the Hotel El Corte, where I had my best meal yet (Castilian); table clothes, red wine, a superb soup, and a marvelously flavorful stew of pork, sausage, chicken, potatoes, carrots and chickpeas. The watermelon I had for dessert was super sweet and mellow. All of this for 11 euros.
I felt complete going to bed that night. I had pressed myself to a long leg of my journey, and won. The Albergue was special, and I felt so honored to be “taken in” by Santiago and his friends for a most special dinner. Time for bed. Another big day tomorrow. I don’t know what it’s going to be, but come what may.
Love and God Bless – Reese