Just the facts
day 11. Rabe de la Calzada to Castrojeriz
Distance: 19 miles / 31 km
Time: 6 hours
Total to date: 193 miles / 311 km
Aches and pains: Still icing that foot but otherwise no complaints. And knock on wood, no blisters.
Three of us left the town of Rabe together; a Swede, a German and a mixed breed. We were three women all the same age with lots to talk about, but before long I was ready for my own pace, so after promising to scout out the albergue options when I arrived in Castrojeriz, I took off.
Even with an early start the day heated up quickly so I stopped for a late breakfast in Hornillos, a medieval pilgrim village. During my breakfast at a shady outdoor table I was treated to an extended tolling of church bells. From the village the route followed a narrow path had been cut into the hillside so that everyone had to walk single file for the first time in days. The path eventually opened onto an earthen track before meeting up with the road to Castrojeriz and traveling under the 15th century arches of San Anton with its ruined convent. Those last five kilometers were hot, really hot. I’d already drained two water bottles and regretted not bringing more.
Arriving in Castrojeriz, I made for the recommended albergue and was the first person to be turned away. Completo. “Completo” is the Spanish word for “full”. And so it went. Every place I checked was either full or closed, and it was only 1:00 p.m. I wasn’t alone in my search for accommodation, there were a number of others, including a pair of Koreans. He had a backpack on his back and carried his wife/girlfriend’s pack on his chest while she limped along in apparent agony.
I eventually ended up in a small, newly remodeled hotel as did the women I’d started the day with. They came dragging in a couple of hours later looking like they had each suffered a night of hot flashes. At 5:00 p.m. people were still arriving and wandering the streets.
This is the first time I’ve been part of the race for beds. It seems that this town normally has more accommodation but many places are currently closed for whatever reason. It is also the recommended end of a stage, each stage averaging about 20 to 25 kilometers. Each “end” of a stage can quickly become overwhelmed by demand.
My walking plan has been to finish each day between the recommended stages thus avoiding this crazy race. Tomorrow I will make a point of doing exactly that.