Day 17 (to Castojeriz): Easter

I almost missed the usual …

2014-04-20 13.47.09
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… morning alarm clock sounds at 7:00 … the earplugs did a very good job. Toast, jam, coffee and juice for breakfast. A few Spanish peregrinos are heading for the door … and are soon returning. Its raining heavily outside. Everyone is putting on their rain gear which mostly means raincoat and gaiters … though Keith has a special rain cover for his hat.

The rain doesn’t prove to be a problem on a rocky path going slightly uphill. The problems arise when rocks are replaced by soft soil … ideal ingredient for sticky mud the sticks like glue to the boots and even the hiking poles, increasing weight. Another problem in the rain is that you can just stop anywhere and air your feet … you need to wait until a shelter of a bar in the next town.  Resting on the poles still works though.

During one of such breaks two peregrinas pass me by with … “are you OK” … Sure, just my regular
blister prevention routine.
I ask the slightly slower one … where are you from?
“From Slovenia” … says she.
Oh really … says I, in Croatian.
On a side note: Slovenian and Croatian language are somewhat similar, and share a part of the vocabulary … like “oh, really”. The other one immediately pings me for a Dalmatian. Another side note: Though Croatia is a small country with slightly over 4 million people, every region (and nearly every town) has a distinctive dialect … more or less easily recognisable. 
Both Slovenian ladies are called Mojca … one from Koper, another from Portoroz. Each married with two kids. Both are highly entertaining company.

I told them about a solution to my ankle problem to which they commented … “you didn’t know that, what kind of athlete are you” … well, an armchair kind.  Though with backpacks weighing 12kg they aren’t the perfect voice of experience , but that mystery will be revealed a bit later..
As we are walking, suddenly out of nowhere … there is a beeping sound and a metallic voice in English …?!? …  Since they are both on tight schedule they have an app on their smartphone which regularly notifies them of their speed and remaining distance to the next town … and here I thought I was a techie.

We try to avoid the muddy parts of the track with limited success … until we finally spot a town in the distance. … Finalmente …  The bar stop is an absolute must. As we approach the bar we spot Keith and the Swedes leaving, they were slightly faster today. In the bar I also discovered why the Slovenians carry heavy backpacks. Each has at least a litre of home-made brandy, one is honey-based, another raspberry-based, both mixed with a bunch of additional herbs.

We are joined by Angus and Grace … I comment to Grace how I figured out we chatted online on the Camino forum. “I thought I told you not to chat with younger men” … Angus kids her … “well, they are all younger online” … Grace responds. The Slovenians ask for an expert opinion on the brandy from the Scots and get a “pretty good” from Angus.

Two German girls drop in as well … Dilek and Evelyn. Dilek managed to catch the last bed at the albergue in Burgos. They are talking about a guy who appears to be incident prone and spoiling for a fight … verbal and otherwise. This is extremely rare occurrence on the Camino … and the Spanish react very quickly even at the hint of a potential trouble.

Moving on … through a bit of rain … and a bit of mud … I let the Slovenian peregrinas pass me by because I just find a comfy stone perfect for a break.
The Camino continues alongside the main road … and the rain appears to have stopped.
Passing by the ruins of a monastery St. Anton that doubles as an albergue …. sleeping under the stars. Soon a city can be seen ahead, it is just that … it takes a while to get there.

Arrived at Castrojeriz oko 15h. At the first set of benches I catch Slovenians taking a break … they plan to push on further today. Pretty soon the German girls catch up (now there are three of them, Hayne is the new one) so I join them in search for an albergue as I part with Slovenians.

The first albergue is brand new but it doesn’t have a dryer … the German were smart in suggestions we might need one since its pretty cloudy outside. We all park at Casa Nostra … catchy name … right across the church. Comfy old house, with few beds in interconnected rooms.

We grab lunch at the nearby bar where I hear the story of Hayne’s Camino miracle. She lost her camera. it wasn’t an expensive one but it contained the sole copy of her photos, it was about 6-8 km before Castrojeriz. The man who was walking his dog found it… it turns out he actually lives here and they managed to connect.

After we make plans for dinner I head out to discover when is the mass tonight. I discover that despite the fact that the town has 4 churches and a monastery there is only one mass for Easter … at 13h. Disappointed I head back to the albergue where I run into Bepi, my singing partner from an albergue prior to Burgos.

The dinner draws out quite a crowd … six German girls – Dilek, Steffi, Julia, Evelyn, Hayne and Sarah, one German guy – Sarah’s boyfriend Jens (second person that made me do this blog), Bepi and me.
Evelyn’s mom is from Bavaria so she sticks to beer while the other try Spanish wine (which is pretty good). Dilek is self described “undercover Turk”, typical German blonde at a first glace, she is of Turkish descent. She is a social worker that deals with troubled youth and this is her second Camino (she started the first one from Le Puy, quite a longer route).
Steffi brings out a huge camera phone and asks the waiter to take a picture. The others kid her on her phone’s size … is it a Mammogram … or an underwater camera.
After dinner everyone got back to the albergue.

That was day no. 17.

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