Day 18. Santosa to St Juan de Ortega

I’m a little late getting away. The hosts come out and give a warm farewell to everyone.
The morning is misty and cool but I walk out of town beside Dominique and eventually pull away from her.
I hear a bunch of Irish come up behind and I say gidday. They say “another Aussie” and I reply “yeah, we’re like a rash all over the surface of the planet!” And they laugh themselves forward.
I pass them at Villambistia but it doesn’t take long for them to cruise by again. I stop at the next village for a tortilla and cafe americane. I continue the gluten experiment by having some bread.
Eventually the roads lead to Villafranca Montes de Orca and I’m feeling fairly tired. There’s a truck stop so I grab a coke and banana and have a rest. It’s too early for lunch but this is the last village for another 13 k.
I find a supermarket and grab chocolate, Aquarius and an apple. Then it’s a quick crossing of the very busy highway and past the church were they seem to be preparing for a big construction task complete with VIP viewing platform and then it’s uphill. I later discover they were lifting in the roof.
The path is very steep and rocky. Eventually it comes out on a road but this is steep and it goes on like this for about 3 k.
It starts to flatten out and then comes to a monument with picnic tables. There is a mass grave nearby, recently discovered, to do with the Spanish Civil War.
I stop because I’m sore all over and there is a long way still to go.
Immediately after there’s a very steep descent followed by an ascent and then sheer hell. An endless forest road that stretches on and on, broken only by the occasional passing pilgrim, a call to Ali and a pop-up stall where I buy a banana.
After two and a half hours the road splits and a sign says 2 k to the village so I pull up for a rest.
A German whippet pulls up complaining loudly about the endless trek then dumps her stuff to wander into the forest to relieve herself.
My right calf is getting cramps and I know that I can’t do the full distance I want to today. It’s going to take all my resolve just to get to the next village so I set off.
Princess goes sailing past soon after and I do the day-end shuffle broken only by a young guy coming the other way in a small people mover with a surfboard on top. A very incongruous site for rural Spain.
I make it to the Albergue which turns out to be a monastery.
I check in for 5 euro and dinner is another 7.50.
I meet Richard from England who is with older mate Peter and thay have walked from Belarado, 5k more than me. Richard mentions Noël Braun and I comment that I have met him and read his book about the Camino.
Mass is on at 6 and there is a special pilgrim blessing after.
The dinner is very filling and I’m absolutely stuffed on all counts so go to bed to lie down and journal.
I hope I’m feeling better tomorrow. I think I need some rest days and because of being so far behind I will be taking the bus from Burgos to Leon and then maybe to Astorga. I have to face up to the fact my body cannot keep up this pace.
Buen Camino.

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2 responses to “Day 18. Santosa to St Juan de Ortega

  1. Johnny, Your Day 18 effort sounds mighty. Well done. It reminds me of the pushbike ride home from school, wanting to stop and fooster about catching tadpoles, or turning some poor farmers waterwheel, but knowing that if we did not press on there would be no pre dinner snack. Keep up the effort and I am looking forward to your rapid transit leg, just to relieve the empathic exhaustion all your readers momentary;y indulge in. Keep up the spirits and good effort, Kev

    • No worries Kev. I’ve been spending a fair bit of time thinking about our great childhood on the farm. I’m in El Acibo after a 25 k stint over a 1550m mountain and my feet are a bit tender. The beer will be coming soon. John

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