October 21, 35km
We snuck out of our room early in the morning leaving the sleeping Victor, and Sylvie and Hérvé with a blessing at the door instead of a proper goodbye. They are leaving the Camino here in Salamanca and Philippe has gone on ahead. Another chapter opens with Letizia and I walking on alone, so to speak, not knowing who is in front, who is behind and who we will next meet. It’s gives a lovely feeling of curiosity with an edge of the thrilling unknown and an edge of the sadness of departures.
Yesterday was a day off in Salamanca, oh lovely beautiful city. Most of the morning was taken up going on an urban bus trip to ‘Decathlon’ which is the warehouse store of outdoor gear in Europe. Stupidly cheap (read: unethically produced) so good for the pocket and challenging for the heart. Anyway, we need warm clothes because this very morning it was, yes friends, six degrees. Teeth chattering as we waited for the bus we looked at each other counting on our fingers when was the last day we were wilting under afternoon heat. Less than a week ago it must have been in the 30s, and us in tee shirts and shorts and sunnies and still drinking cold beer and tinto de verano.
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So this morning we stepped out rugged up in new thermal layers, feeling pleased and warm, if a bit more bulky. It was true to expectations, freezing, and even more so as we left the city and returned to the campo. At a dip in the road we were thinking, brrrr, this is a bit colder and to the left and right there was the silver hand of frost decorating all the dried thistles and brown remains of the summer. Lovely! The fields were empty under a pale blue and clear sky. Flocks of tiny birds flashed silver and black as the sun caught them. The earth steamed in the early warmth.
At the first pueblo we had an early lunch and cafe con leche in the otherwise deserted plaza. The owner dragged out a table and chairs into the sunshine and we sat there with steaming brews and almond biscuits from Philippe soaking it all up, unable to keep from laughing at the sheer, stupid perfection of it. As Letizia says: come si sta!… how good is this! It’s the secret of the Camino. That heaven is a chair in the sun, a hot drink and a friend. The thing is though, that you might just have to walk a thousand kilometres to arrive there.
It was a longish stage to El Cubo and my left shin is sore almost to point of limping. I think it’s a pulled muscle from the rainy day, L is now suggesting tendinitis but I don’t want to hear it. Small doses of Ibuprofin, massages and … getting on with it are doing it for now. We end up alone in the albergue for the first time, and a sweet and clean one it is with abundant hot water, decent kitchen, and dining room. Both of us are starving and Letizia cooks pasta with tomato which we eat with olives, a local sheep’s cheese and crisps. Pudding is creamed rice out of a tub: bad but good. Before 9pm we’re in bed, utterly zonked. All is well but for the insecticide fumes from spraying my sleeping bag against bed bugs. After ten days of itchy hives anything is worth getting those buggers out of my kit. Everything washable went into the machine at 90 degrees and now it’s just fingers crossed – and trying not to get the sleeping bag too close to my face.
With love and a rosy dawn,