It is amazing to me what the body can do once the brain tells it to do it.
A case in point is the walking that a peregrino does in all sorts of weather, day in and day out. Walking these stages is physically demanding, painful at times, and requires a willpower and dedication to continue walking between 20 to 30 kilometers (and sometimes more!!!) a day. While the scenery is beautiful, as my pictures will attest to but cannot do true justice to the immense beauty of Spain, it is not enough to make your body go through this walking and especially climbing. I think it is something deep down inside of us, and it’s different for many, that drives us inexorably forward to Santiago. I know that for me part of what drove me was the people that I walked with and those that I met along the way. For those of you that walked with me, and you know who you are, I thank you. For those that I met along the way I will never forget you and your kindness.
When I arrived at the destination at the end of the day, dusty, sore and tired, I only had three thoughts in my mind:
1. A hot shower
2. Food – Dinner
Ok, I lied. I also thought of the wine that I’d have with my meal!! Those of you that know me well can tell how much I enjoy my wine. I find it amazing how a hot shower had the power to take away the aches of the road and get you ready for a reviving and delicious meal. Before the meal a beer or a cider, if available, was just what the doctor ordered to warm down the body. It was like the Set-up Pitcher in Baseball (my apologies for those of you that will not understand my analogy) before the Relief Pitcher comes in and gets the mind and body ready to relax for the late night dinner that is customary in Spain. Sometimes you even needed more than one Set-up Pitcher before you were ready for dinner!!
Why am I telling you all this? Well, one reason is to give you an idea of what we experienced and another is to put into context the great meal that Robert and I had in Belorado the night before walking to San Juan de Ortega. It all started pretty much as per usual. I had showered and rested a bit and was downstairs in the Bar (where else?) having an interesting conversation with three Basque cyclists. Two were unmistakeably brothers and the other one was a German who had lived so long in the Basque country that he was made an honorary Basque. One of them had caught me giving them the evil eye, not my usual Modus Operandi, and he read my evil thoughts when he told me (in Spanish of course) that they took all the same trails that we peregrinos did that went on foot did. While we were continuing our friendly chat Robert came in from his search for a drugstore and we were blessed in that the Bar had Estrella Galicia on tap!
While having one, ok – maybe two, I asked the hotel receptionist/barmaid for a restaurant recommendation and she told me about a small out of the way Bar that was the place to go. Robert and I got there with the help of a local (as I described in The Pain in Spain) and when we entered we found the entire Bar filled with local men playing cards at almost every table! The owner, a lovely lady, actually kicked two card spectators out of a table so that we could be seated to eat!
I honestly don’t remember what we ate but I do remember that everything we ate was home-cooked, local and delicious. The food was to die for and was wine wasn’t bad either!! Robert and I just looked at each other and thanked our lucky stars that we could be enjoying such a lovely meal! It was also interesting the watch the card players in action.
So now my loyal readers you know the secret to finishing the Camino; a shower and a lovely meal, with wine of course!! Oh, a good night’s sleep doesn’t hurt either.