Day 19: Calzadilla de la Cueza – Sahagún

Sundays in Spain (especially in the rural villages) are lazy, laid back and quiet – that is, until about 19:30/20:00, when people seem to crawl out to have a drink on the week ahead.

My Sunday wasn’t much different: I had only 22km’s to walk, whereafter I took a lazy lunch, and an extended nap.
I’ll – once done with this message – quickly handwash my clothes, before taking to the streets.

I didn’t get to leave Calzadilla de la Cueza as early as I thought I would – I blame my alarm’s snooze button for constantly tempting me – but my pace has increassd so much as I’ve become more and more walking fit, that I got to Sahagún around noon anyway.

Yesterday afternoon, I ended up sitting on the terrace of a bar in Calzadilla, when I was joined by three other pilgrims: a short(-ish) German man that reminds me of a circus clown, a British guy, and an extremely animated woman who was born in Brazil, spent most of her life in the US, but now lives in Dubai.

I remember, in Pamplona, this woman (the Brazil-US-Dubai one) sitting at a table near me at a restaurant, talking to others. She was loud, animated, and her look just gave me the impression that she’s from the fashion industry – she looks a bit like Donatella Versace (complete with the botched plastic surgery), is probably around 60 years old, and at all times impeccably dressed (even when dressed in the most stylish hiking wear).

Well, it turns out she works for Prada in Dubai!
She is also hilarious.

At one of the bars in Calzadilla one is at the mercy of an extremely rude, unfriendly and downright obese bar girl – she clearly hates her job and her life.

When the Brazillian-American-Emirati devil from Prada got dished up the bargirl’s poor and rude attitude, she did not hold back, and ripped into the overweight bargirl with (read this in a Brazilian-American-Posh accent to get the full effect): “…ah, my gawd, you poor, poor thing! How the fuck can you look like this? How? You got the Camino on your doorstep and you look like this? Gawd, you need to walk the Camino…perhaps even three times. Oh, my gawd! Oh, my gawd!

You know what, honey? You know why you look like this? Because you’re very, very unhappy. Very, very unfriendly. You need to get off that ass. Oh, my gawd!”

I could not help it, and started to laugh – and that gave the devil from Prada the motivation to walk over to my table and join me. The other two, the German and the Brit, followed her, and joined too.

The German did not have much to say, and while my friend from Prada was there, the Brit hardly got a word in, but the four of us had a great evening – loads of laughter, wine, and dinner.

(it’s weird here: as you meet many people who you’ll have brief interaction with, you sometimes simply forget to ask their names – I’m bad with names anyway. I will, however, get the Prada-lady’s name when I next see her).

As well dressed and groomed as she may be, the Prada-devil must have the worst feet I’ve ever seen.
From my marriage I got the habbit of first checking out people’s feet (my wife had this habbit, and ‘transferred’ it to me) – it’s become terrible, as I cannot not first look at someone’s feet.
From my dad, again, I learnt to always look at a woman’s knees.
So, long before I get to look at the ass, breasts, or face (mostly in that order), I’d have a look at the feet and knees – and often be put off by them, and not be bothered to go higher up!

The Devil and the German guy (really funny little fella) left us shortly before 21:00, as their albergue had a 21:00 curfew.

I then spent the next hour with the British guy before we too had to rush to make our albergues’ curfews.

He recently lost his wife to cancer, and is doing the Camino, as he puts it, not in her memory, but in celebration of her life. His entire trip has been planned so that he will arrive in Santiago on what would have been her birthday. His children will also join him for the last 100km’s from Sarria.
It was extremely touching when he told me that his wife had until the very end, when se really was too weak to do anything, still insisted on making his packed lunch every day.

This morning the plan was to get walking at 06:00, but I only left Calzadilla de la Cueza at 07:10 – but, who cares! There are four towns between Calzadilla and Sahagún, but not much of historical or specific interest.
I stopped for an orange juice in Lédigos, and again for breakfast in Moratinos, but for the rest really just kept my head down and put one foot in front of the other. I walked at quite a pace.

I also had to stop to take off my knee guard. When I bought it in Logroño the assistant at the pharmacy warned me that it’ll be too small (I took a size ‘small’ – I have legs like toothpicks), but guess what? I now find myself in the situation that it’s become too big! I did not even know one can lose weight in your legs, but the knee guard simply doesn’t stay up any more. Within a few yards of starting my daily walk, the bloody thing hangs on my ankle!

When I arrived in Sahagún, I stopped for a quick cold drink, when I met two Dutch brothers from Holland, who are cycling from their home country to Santiago.
For four weeks every year they are the same age (they are 50 this year), and have made it an institution to, every year, do something together for the four weeks they are ‘twins’. I though of how I hope my own boys will also one day do stuff together as brothers.

The barman, Jan, is also Dutch, and the four of us had a vibrant discussion talking an Afrikaans-Dutch mix.

The owner of the bar and albergue (also where I stay over tonight), Fatima, is Zimbabwean, and she too understands Afrikaans. After I had lunch, the three of us (she, Jan, and myself), had a great chat about the Camino.

I also received my Carta Peregrino, to certify that I had reached the ‘halfway’ mark. Sahagún is not really halfway when it comes to distance, but it is the geographic centre of the Camino. It is also the place where the route from Madrid joins the Camino Frances. My own calculation, based on the route (and extention) I’m taking is that I’ll reach the halfway mark (relating to distance) in two days’ time, when I should have walked 538km’s.

Over lunch today Fatima asked, ‘Andries, why the Camino? Did you come all the way to find out who you are?’

No, I answered.
‘I know WHO I am. I am Andries Petrus Vrey. I came to, hopefully, discover WHAT I am, and, more importantly, WHAT I can be.’

It was only later, under the shower, that I thought about my answer to Fatima, and realised how I have indeed grown over the past nearly three weeks.
It made me feel both grateful, and proud.

I will now get dressed, and stroll into town – I need some snacks and other supplies.

I have a very long day ahead of me tomorrow – 38km’s, to be exact!

Buen Camino!

Ps. Vaseline may be tasteless, but the diligent use thereof, speaks of impeccable taste!

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