Some days on the Camino are long while others are short. We were really looking forward to the easy 19.25 kilometer day ahead. It’s funny how now 20 kilometers walking seems like nothing. We were a bit hungry this morning as we weren’t too successful the previous night in finding any substantial food besides a small pizza. Luckily 3.5 kilometers into our walk we arrived in Poblaciòn de Campos, where we had delicious “huevos” y “patatas” breakfast with coffee. Normally we just eat a grain/nut bar and a piece of fruit in the morning. This was a real treat to start off our Sunday morning.
There is a small bridge over a semi-dried up river shortly after leaving Poblaciòn de Campos. All the Camino signs direct pilgrims to take the paved path along the road, however I had read to take an unmarked small dirt path immediately off to the right after crossing the bridge. All yellow arrow signs pointed straight, but we decided to take the risk and venture on the dirt path which promised to be the more scenic route. The quiet dirt path through trees takes you 10 kilometers along the river, bypassing a few villages but definitely enhancing the walk with nature. We saw glimpses of pilgrims still walking along side the road and wondered, why hasn’t anyone changed the Camino route to go along this other path we were on? Score!
An easy 10 kilometers on the path veered back to the left, meeting with the original road, headed towards Vallalcàzar de Sirga. We found the beautiful Iglesia de Sta. Maria with a cafe in front and decided to take a break. We split a quick beer and some tortilla de patatas. We then ran into our friends from British Columbia, Ronda and Allan, who joined us for a rest. The final 6 kilometers to Carrion de los Condes flew by as we were chatting with Ronda and Allan the entire walk. They are a semi-retired couple in the early 60’s. Al is a Pharmacist who sold his Pharmacy within the past few years. They own a family gift/home decor shop, that has some really beautiful and interesting items from furniture and decor to clothes, body bath, and unique gifts. Their two daughters have recently moved out of their house so they’ve downsized and now have the opportunity to do more substantial traveling. They told us about their involvement in their local Rotary Club, where they helped projects such as building local water storage facilities in Kenya. They’ve also hosted several foreign exchange students in their home over the years. In fact they are visiting a former student in Milan after the Camino. These special experiences have seemed to really enrich their family’s lives and helped their daughters gain an international perspective. We instantly hit it off with Ronda and Al and found them to be very inspiring individuals. We hope to continue on the Camino journey with them until the end in Santiago.
Carrion de los Condes is surprisingly larger than we thought. We’ve learned on this Camino, you never really know what kind of town you are going to end up in. Some towns have been completely abandoned while other have quite a bustling community. Nevertheless, there were lots of people out in the town, but we couldn’t forget it was Sunday so nothing is open. Saturdays, Sundays and siestas, have been hard to deal with on the Camino. Spanish business schedules are limited. All businesses close Saturday afternoon by 14:00 and do not reopen until Monday morning at 9:00. This schedule makes it extremely difficult for pilgrims to find any food market all weekend. The restaurant serving times are also limited. Lunch is only served between 14:00-16:00 and dinner only after 19:30 or later. Therefore, if you arrive to a town after 16:00 you won’t find anything to eat for another four hours. These schedules can be hard for pilgrims, especially when most are accustomed to getting anything at any time. We’ve been making a conscious effort to arrive to our destination before 15:00. We find a restaurant serving the “menu del dia” and eat a larger lunch. For dinner we eat something small like soup, salad or fruit. Or, all the above plus vino!
The “Calle Mayor” runs through Carrion, and our hotel was at the other end of the town. Al and Ronda were staying 1 kilometer further in a nice renovated monastery hotel. We met up with Deanna in the street who was also staying at our hotel. We were all so happy to be together and to have conquered another Camino day. A bottle of wine was in order to celebrate. We found a local bar on the Calle Mayor and gave a “Salute” to our Day 17 of the Camino. We’ve gone 375 km (232 miles) in the past 17 days! Now that’s quite an accomplishment to drink to! The next two days are two of our longest days with 30 kilometers back to back.
See our Photo Album:
El Camino: Day 17 (Fromista to Carrion de los Condes)