Day 13 (to San Juan de Ortega): Blue Skies Smiling At Me …

I headed onwards from Belorado around 6:50 …
2014-04-16 06.55.02
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… The earplugs have proven to be up to the task until around 6 am when various alarm clocks started their impromptu concert.  I leave the albergue through the empty streets of a sleeping town. The German girl is forging quickly ahead leaving me behind. The full moon bids good morning to the shy dawn (I was feeling a bit poetic that morning).

The way out of the town is well marked, so much so that I avoid taking any wrong turn. My pace is pretty good today and I soon leave the next town – Tosantos, behind me.
 Another set of fields and meadows all around…. but with such spectacular blue skies above … not a cloud in the sky … got the sun in my eye …
I take a break at the next village. Jack (and Karen) from Ireland pass me by, followed by two Peters from Australia, the tall one and the white-bearded one. The villages on this stretch of the Camino are relatively close. As I exit one of them I spot a nice bench … perfect for letting the feet breathe a bit. Cindy manages to catch up with me (I must have set a good pace today when it took her this long to catch up)… she is thinking of taking a bus to avoid the industrial zone at the entrance to Burgos. She asks what my plans are to which I reply that back home I am bound to get some sarcastic comments like … aha, so you walked for almost 800 kn except for x km where you took the bus … so its onwards I go for as long as my feet will carry me.
By the by … there are a lots of companies that offer transportation of pilgrims or their backpacks to the next stop on the Camino. Massimo for example, hitchhiked parts of the first week since his feet were in poor condition. Some called such pilgrims tourgrino. As far as I’m concerned since nobody (or at least very, very few people) are copying the medieval pilgrims who walked from their house door to Santiago and back. .. I don’t think they have any credibility in complaining. Everybody moves at their own pace to the best of their ability.
The path continues on…bit downhill…then bit uphill. I ran into one of rare (so far at least) Americans, Dan from Richmond, Virginia. He mistook me for an American first (fifth country I was mistakenly assigned to so far). Dan is taking pictures and his friend is writing a blog … nice division of labour. He’s got a fast pace and leaves me behind soon.
I reach Villafranca Montes de Oca a small town with a trucker’s cafe where I spot Scott and Cindy having coffee. After I managed to crash-close a sun umbrella over Scott’s table (fixed by white-bearded Peter) I had a snack and continued on with Cindy. 
A church … then uphill … then more of the same … will it ever end. And of course smart fellow  that I am, I forgot to refill my water bottle … again. And the sun is enjoying itself fully.
There is s sign nearby … is it to mark to fountain coming up…. nope. Just a signpost for the mountain peaks on the horizon to the left.
But a picnic area is coming ahead … surely it must have a fountain….. well yeah, kind of.
But it also has a sign “not suitable for drinking”
OK I’d rather be thirsty then sick.
At yet another slight uphill part we are joined by Emma and Frida. My “guten morgen” to Frida is returned with  “dobro jutro” ...(good morning in Croatian).
Emma is a English high school teacher who works in London and I am …. “her first Croatian”… (that she met on the Camino of course). She’s got an English accent like the BBC announcers … compared to hers my English accent sounds like those of KGB agents from Hollywood movies. Although she is English and lives in London she fully understands Scots who support independence in upcoming referendum. She can’t stand Mr. Cameron and his policies either.
I update Frida one news from Croatia in the last few years since she left. After Santiago she plans to head back over Camino del Norte then continue over the Silk Road in Central Asia.
As we chat along large monument to 300 people shot by the firing squad during the Spanish Civil War … but I didn’t managed to figure out which side did the shooting.
Downhill part comes ahead … followed by uphill that reaches a wide path through the forest … plenty of space for three tanks to pass abreast.
A guy running in the opposite direction passes us by … not carrying a backpack … a strange occurrence.
Since this morning I’ve been managing a good pace (I even overtook Cindy a few times) and it seemed like my ankle problems belong to past tense.
Weeell… not so much…it appears they are very much back to present hurts-like-a-**** continuous,.
At fist signs of pain I slowed down, took a break and let the feet breath a bit. OK… time for that slow walking freestyle again …. I’ mean how far could that San Juan be anyway … half an hour, tops … right? … (It took me two hours)
I ran out of water soon but fortunately a pear left from snack saved the day.  
Practically everybody passed me by, except for a Spanish girl with even more severe feet problems. Its interesting how a large percentage of pilgrims stop by and asks … “are you OK, can I help”Many thanks good people but I doubt anyone carries an ice pack. Maren passes as well, with a group from Barcelona.  The sun is doing its job all along path, with an occasional breeze, and since the path is wide it provides poor shade.
Oh what fun, fun, fun.
I finally wiggled my way into San Juan de Ortega at 14:45. … parked myself at the albergue and treated my feet to a cold shower blast … all it took to make me feel like a whole new person.
The village has about 20 inhabitants and a one bar that serves dinner at 19h …in the meantime only few muffins are available. I sit down for a beer outside with Scott and two British ladies, Maddy and Kish (who is of Indian descent). They are doing a slow Camino, about 15km daily.
While Kish is doing the Camino her husband is climbing the Everest (he did Kilimanjaro last year) and they live near Wimbledon. During the tennis tournament their kids have been know to make as much as 500 GBP selling soft-drinks and snacks to people waiting in line for tickets.
Kish is also a fan of Goran Ivanisevic (one of living legends of Croatian sports). Maddy wants to know more about Croatian history so I give her half an hour lecture on the topic.
Although we are ten minutes early for dinner the few tables are packed already. I try to persuade the waiter to let us eat outside where there is plenty of room and get “no servicio en terraza”  … C’mon man, can’t you see it s crowded, we’ll carry our own plates.“no servicio en terraza” I have to settle for … “I’ll call you when its free, I hope and think it will be around 20h”.
We were finally seated around 20:30.
For dinner I am joined by Maddy and Kish, Scott and Ray, an American of Polish descent who lives in Florida.The dinner discussion covers multiple topics and at one point it touches on immigration. Ray comments how people who come to US should ... “learn to speak American” ….“WHAT, LEARN WHAT!!“, thunders Maddy with that charming British indignation … it took Ray a little bit to figure out his slip of the tongue, before he sheepishly corrected himself …”learn English”… “I would certainly think so” … concludes Maddy.
I realize I’m the only one at the table whose country wasn’t a part of British Empire. 
After dinner we step into the night outside … the weather here take a bit of getting use to … the dawn breaks around 8h and sun sets around 21h.  
That was day no. 13.





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