October 15, 29km
After a couple of hours on the road, today’s Camino took us through a long stretch of windy sandy track between granite boulders, bordered by dry-stone walls and dotted with Encina and cork, broom and prickly-leaf. It was such strong Country. And because they felt it too, pilgrims were making little stone cairns everywhere on the rocks, leaving a pebble here and a stone there. Such an anonymous gesture, somehow, but a powerful acknowledgement. This is often the only sign that we are part of a whole stream of people, a community who will never meet but are united in the line we walk. Letizia and I exchanged our typically brief commentary … “magico” … “Sí, muy sagrado” and walking through softly, marvelling. We had a break and she smoked her contemplative cigarette and I lay on my back, napped and lay still a while. With a glance and “vamos?” It’s time to go on.
The albergue here in Oliva de la Plasencia is a private hostel run by the generous and sweet, if a little rushed, Monica. We talked ‘chinchas’ the biting insects that jump from albergue to albergue with pilgrims. She doesn’t have them, but oh, did you stay at hostel Málaga in Cañaveral? They have them. And the next albergue too. Better to do a longer day and go to Baños. [Actually the next day I have a crop of fresh bites, maybe twenty, face is itchy and swollen, neck and shoulders and legs and feet… chinchas!!] So they are a reality of the Camino for now! I don’t mind the bites themselves. Bloody itchy, but I’m used to that after Ecuador and the Bibbulmun. The awful horrible thing is not knowing whether they are traveling with me in my sleeping bag / clothes / backpack and whether I am a walking infestation of other places along the way. I itch and walk and try not to care about blotchy face.
Monica cooked us mushroom risotto, fish and peas for dinner and made a fire with fragrant oak wood. We shared the warmth with Sylvie and Hervé from Paris and señor Pologna who we know now is called Victor but is still señor Pologna to us.
May your beds be free of chinchas, friends and companions, and your hearth always warm.