Day 16. Azofra to Groñon

Rico was up early. He only has 28 days and so must do nearly 30 k per day. He looks pretty fit and in his 50’s. He says that I will lose so much weight doing the Camino my wife will have trouble recognising me when we meet up in Sarria.
He departs withy a flourish.
I’m out the door and on the road by eight.
As I’m leaving town I bump into the Tassie’s and learn their names are Tom and Lucy. A little later I help a German or Dutch lady with something loose on her pack but then she takes off. Everyone walks slightly faster than me.
It’s gravel roads between farms for two hours but this time there are plenty of walkers. We are heading up to the rim of the valley and after 2 hours there is a fairly steep climb to the top but then a roadside stall appears and I buy a banana. Shortly after Utah pulls up alongside and we stroll into Ciruña together. There is a large modern deserted estate on the outskirts.
At the juncture we part as I head up to the bar for breakfast. Afterwards, I call Greg to wish Marie a happy birthday.
Happy birthday Marie!
Now it’s a gentle stroll to Santo Domingo and in about an hour I crest a hill and the town is laid out before me. I have picked up a few little stones in my shoes and stop on a bench to put it right before the long shuffle into the town square and as it’s a little after 12, I call Ali.
Laura has passed her driving test and has her license. Well done Laura!
I find a restaurant and order a tomato and tuna salad with a beer. Wow! Such a simple meal and so delicious.
I order a coffee too just so I can sit a little longer. It’s about another 6 k to Groñon and I want to have a good rest.
When I come out its blue sky and hot sun so I crack out the sunnies and head off. It’s gravel roads slightly uphill and 90 minutes in I have to stop to adjust the laces of my left shoe. I’ve developed a pain in the bones behind the toes and I’m hoping it’s the shoes. It settles down.
Again the last bit is an uphill shuffle but I’m powering up the hill. I walk the whole length of Main Street and then go back to what looks like the only Albergue. I ask to inspect. It’s a bit like a Mexican bordello and stinks. I ask if there is another and the man says there is one behind the church. It turns out to be a donativo church hall, meal and mass included. I’m on a thin mat packed into the attic surrounded by Italian men.
It’s the strangest experience as I can understand what they are talking about which is basically the services available in the Albergue.
Daphne from Montreal, the volunteer hospitaliero, looks after me and I’m showered, laundry’d and back out at the bar having a beer in no time. Actually I’m leaning back against the wall of main street soaking up the late afternoon sunshine chatting with Pasquale from New Jersey.
Today was a very tough walk and tells me that more than 20 k is a stretch for me. On the other hand my knee stood up really well.
I think I’ll post early today as I missed it yesterday.
So I went to mass and at the end the priest called all the pilgrims up for a pilgrims blessing.
I then retired for a little rest and dinner started at eight. Daphne gave me a special plate of potato soup with some ribs and that was followed by eggs with onion. The meal was very festive and afterwards we all washed up together. I sat next to Aussie girl Taryn and her American friend who was able to let me know the French lady’s name is Dominique.
We are actually under the roof of the church and after dinner we could optionally go to a prayer vigil by passing directly into the choir. A special candle was handed around and then the priest offered a blessing which was followed by hugs all round. A diametrically opposite experience to the one in Logroño.
Altogether a very big day and one I won’t forget. Not now that I’ve written it down!
Just kidding.
Buen Camino
Tuna and tomato salad

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Yes, I’m not sharing!

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5 responses to “Day 16. Azofra to Groñon

  1. John you now sound energized and confident!

  2. Hey JJ. Sorry I missed your call. I thought it was an international scammer (and I was right!). We are in the throes of preparing for the grand festival of Marie which usually continues until the first Sunday of Advent. It will still be going by the time you get home…
    Go well. Buen Camino!

  3. John, good to hear you are still able to put one foot in front of other and at the end of day enjoy a beer. Keep safe

    • Thanks Margie. I’ve just landed in El Acibo having crossed the high point of 1550m. A big walk today of 25k and I only just beat the rain ’cause it’s pelting down now.

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