Saturday, June 28, 2008

June 16 - Baños de Montemayor to Calzada de Bejar

"In a world where people are attuned to being directed by signs everywhere, how do you explain that the yellow arrows are not a municipal "regulation' but rather an invitation to faith - they are always there, especially when you need them the most, whispering ‘this way’, ‘follow me’, ‘trust me’. It is virtually impossible to convey to others that the Camino is, in so many ways, a metaphor for life" M.Leahy.
So.... I am so excited!! After these 3 weeks waiting until I felt sure I could walk again, I am!! Last night after repacking again (I had to restock, since I gave Salvador what he needed for his walk) and double checking (I am sure other pilgrims know what I am talking about, eh?) I could not sleep. Tossing and turning, listening to music, reading (I finished Eat, Pray, Love, and I strongly recommend it)the end of my book, I finally fell asleep and slept 2 hours. I got early to the metro station, I am not missing my bus back! It was a nice bus ride, watching the scenery change from city, to flatlands, dry and brown, to mountains, wet and green.
Immediately after getting off the bus, I went to the Ayuntamiento (city hall) and got my credencial stamped. I had not gotten it stamped when I walked to Baños de Montemayor 3 weeks ago, so I did, and when I walked out I met my first pilgrim. Arturo, who I would meet again and again. He was to rest here for a bite but I was eager to get walking.
When I left 3 weeks ago, the bus ride out of Baños was crazy, switchbacking back and forth several times until we made it over the mountain. I was really hoping I would not have to do that much walking, and sure enough the path would take me straight up and over. It was an old Roman road, stones to help get good footing, as it was sprinkling on and off and without then it would have been messy and slippery. I stopped several times to take pictures and admire the view, Baños appearing lower and lower until I went over the mountain. I used my little umbrella for a while. I walked under a bridge that had a nice layout of the Via. The wildflowers were beautiful and plentiful. It was a quiet road, and being alone was wonderful. I found a wall where I could sit and eat and stare into the valleys below, towns so far away it felt like this mountain was all mine for the moment. My legs dangled over the wall and I ate a bocadillo of ham that my uncle had sliced from that whole pig leg he has sitting on his kitchen counter. Several cherries and I was good to go. It was warm again, so off with the fleece, but then it got cooler again. It did that back and forth until it sprinkled again, then it just felt cold. There are different way markers that I have not learned about, with odd markings, I wondered if I could find info about them somewhere.
I crossed the Malena bridge, an old Roman bridge that is well known, and below the river was rushing, as it had rained quite a bit lately. I loved the sound of it and stayed for a bit.
The sprinkling was constant now, so used my left hand for the umbrella and the right with my walking stick, for there were some areas where it came in very handy. There was a very stony path that went uphill and once over I walked on the path that paralleled a paved road. Suddenly it poured. I am talking, skies opened up and buckefulls came down. My poncho was in the backpack and I struggled trying to stay under the umbrella, protect my backpack and get the poncho and put it on. I was soaked as soaked as I could be, and luckily the inside of the backpack was not too wet. I do put my other change of clothes in a ziplock bag.
I walked through Puerto de Bejar, but my destination was Calzada de Bejar, where I had heard there was a wonderful albergue on the entrance to the village. The hospitalero and a German woman were there waiting for me and asked me if I had seen other pilgrims. Other than Arturo, no one else. He did not arrive there, probably stayed in Puerto de Bejar since the rain was so heavy.

The place was warm and welcoming. He lit a fire so that we could dry our things. Clothes, backpacks, boots were all lined up there. We were one Austrian woman, 2 German sisters (first young people I had seen), 2 Spanish brothers on bikes and me. The hospitalera encouraged me to eat her meal, and even though I had food for tonight I decided to join them and glad I did. The hot garlic soup warmed me right up.
Although the skies were heavy with rain clouds it stopped long enough to go outside a and check out the horse that was looking for attention. And she got it. One of the guys was already there and fed her some grass. I too pulled some for her and she gladly ate it from me, enveloping my whole hand with her soft lips, as her teeth pulled on the grass. We took some pictures and she did not want us to leave her, walking along the fence until it ended. I felt so much love. I walked back in and as I closed the door I was gifted with a complete rainbow.

I would sleep good tonight.
Although it felt much longer.... TOTAL: 13Km

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