Doing the hard slog.
Like anything in life, there are tough days and easy days. Crossing what they call the Meseta here in Spain because of it being such a flat plain psychologically is challenging. People are pre warned about part of the crossing which is 17km without anything, no bars for coffee or refreshments, no fountains for water, no shadow to walk in, no anything. Sounded awful, so many of us were up early and ready to leave before the heat of the day. I was staying at a monastery which was fantastic and run by these awesome nuns, the doors opened at 0600am and there was a mass exit. This created a very different Camino experience for me that day.
It was the first time I had seen so many people on the trail, normally you lose people and don’t see anyone until a village for coffee, beer or food. As far as the eye could see there were people forwards and backwards. Thankfully there was a little more shade than expected and a couple of rest areas. It went on and on as 17 straight kilometres does, the sun came up as it does and it got hotter and hotter. Like anything, if you want to get to the end or achieve the goal, well, it’s about putting the next foot in front and just getting on with it.
We all survived to tell the story and there was a great vibe in the cafe/bar as we ate, drank and chatted to recharge. Some stayed and I moved on, the heat kept burning, however it was important to keep going as there was a mission to be accomplished. Each bit gained, meant the more of Spain I could walk. A little seed had been planted in my brain way back in Pamplona about doing part of the Portuguese camino. As I do, I see everything as an opportunity and chose to walk accordingly to at least give me the choice when I got to Santiago, I love walking and find it relatively easy so it all was doable. Now, to keep moving and make the best decision when the time came …gotta love a plan 😀.
Another time, whilst still walking in the meseta, we took an old roman road, it was described as the scenic route in the guide book. Sounded great, was also 17km without supplies or shade. Heaven knows how, however we miscalculated the last village to stock up on supplies, at least we had some left over bread from breakfast that I’d stuffed into my bag. We had to keep on going, sometimes going backwards works however this wasn’t one of them. On and on the old Roman road went and on and on we went. We found a bunch of trees with a small table and caught some shade, which was lovely. We only saw one couple walking the same route as us, everyone else had chosen the highway slog (which also didn’t have any shade I heard).
The heatwave Northern Spain was experiencing made it tough work, sure it’s okay being an Ozzie from Queensland and used to the heat, however I wouldn’t choose to walk in it at home. So, for my Camino walking buddy, Tiffani from Wisconsin, USA, it was understandable how she thought she was going to die. It was hot, hot, hot and we just had to walk, walk, walk. We stopped for a bit to take a load off and I made a shade with my sarong, we had the bread left from breakfast and some cheese I was carrying. Onwards and upwards one foot after the other and we came to a beautiful clump of poplar trees just for us to rest our tired bodies. We heard a running river and were so excited at the thought of throwing ourselves in. Unfortunately we had to be expert rock-climbers to get down the man made walls. Oh well, the shade was awesome and the rest sensational. A long legged Spanish girl came over the hill to join us equally exhausted, so we all shared stories, she planted a seed with me which is another story, confirming the universe puts people in our path for a reason.
Off we set for the last 3km, soon we would be able to see the valley with the next villages on our journey, including the one we had chosen to stop at. Tiffani struggled with the heat, she thought she was going to die and was flagging. Her feet hurt and we stopped to get rocks out, I held her poles and kept on walking as a little encouragement for her to quicken her pace, (I figured I was doing her a favour), she benefited by a fast paced 400 metres and then by magic there was our village. Another kilometre and WE MADE IT, we felt so relieved. Thank goodness for that! We headed straight for a bar, necked half a litre of water each followed by a beer. Felt so good to be in the shade, sitting down and finally finishing for the day. What a hot old day and a jolly huge walk on the old Roman road with its crazy and constant rocks!
Pushing through the hard slog pays off in many ways! Loving my Camino journey and the re confirmations for LIFE it’s bringing.