Distance walked: 11.5 miles
Music of the day: none
Today would mark a notable change in the landscape that the Camino passes through. The Camino was entering the Meseta, a wide flat plain with minimal elevation changes. Except for one just after the town of Castrojeriz the next day, there would be no steep climbs… but this also meant that there would be minimal shade, longer distances between towns, and not as many facilities as in the past.
I set out early (well, early for me!) with a piece of fruit in hand, planning to take a proper breakfast break in the next town, Hornillos el Camino, which was just under five miles away. It was chilly and partly sunny, but a nice morning to be walking. I had borrowed some ibuprofen from other pilgrims and had taken a nice dose earlier to help calm down my hip. I felt some twinges early on, but they disappeared after a few minutes of walking.
Along the way I met Paul, a pilgrim from Holland, and we walked much of the morning together. He was very knowledgable about the Camino, having walked it several times before. The rolling hills were slowly starting to taper down into the flatness of the Meseta. At one point, I even thought, “Wow. This is almost as flat and boring as the drive between Dayton and Columbus.” 😉
As we ambled along, the stabbing pain in my left hip returned. I got to the point where I had to put pressure on the front of my hip with my thumb in order to be comfortable enough to walk. This was not good. The next town would be my last stop for the day, even though it was barely noon. According to Paul and to my guide book, we were approaching a town, but I saw nothing. “It’s hidden in the valley,” Paul told me, and sure enough, after a few more steps the town of Hontanas appeared beneath us. We sat down at the bar of the private hostel in town, El Puntido, where I decided that I would stay for the night. (Bar+restaurant+private hostel+attached grocery store open on Sundays= good place to stay!) We were soon joined by Colin, who said that he would also stay. Paul said his goodbyes and continued on his way. I was sad to see him go: it’s amazing how close you can get to someone in just a morning’s walk!
Chris and Jasmine soon arrived in town, and, sick of the meat-bread-and-potato-based pilgrim’s menus, the four of us found the kitchen of the hostel and decided to cook dinner for ourselves. Groceries at the tiny tienda behind the hostel were slightly limited, but we had also found some pasta in the kitchen cupboards and made a big meal of pasta with sauteed vegetables (OMG! Vegetables! Remember those?) and grated cheese, bread, and wine. (The wine here is ridiculously cheap. We bought several bottles of decent wine for about 2.20 Euro apiece. It’s like the Spanish Three-Buck Chuck). It was a feast. We even had some left over for Anthony, Ciara, and Lukas when they arrived a bit later.
In the meantime, my hip was not feeling great. I was taking regular doses of strong ibuprofen, which sometimes helped, but usually didn’t. Jasmine said to me, “Well, see how it is tomorrow. You can always take the bus ahead.” Her suggestion horrified me. “Never!” I answered indignantly. “I’ll stay in this town for a week if I have to, and then I’ll walk. I’m going to walk to whole way if it kills me!”
I changed my mind later that night, when I woke up at 2am -exactly the time that I was due for another dose of pain meds – with my hip throbbing. I was despondent. This was not going to be possible. I had planned this Camino and wanted to do this for so long. It is the most frustrating thing to have the will to do something but a body that will not cooperate. I was going to have to go ahead by bus to the next bigger town (Hontanas does not even have a pharmacy) and rest there. I hoped that maybe I would be able to continue in a few days. Only time would tell.