Camino Diary Entry # 21
Santo de la Calzada to Belorado 23 kms 6 hours
We planned a relaxed wander through Santo Domingo as rain and cold had prevented us from exploring the day before. Due to the rainy skies, we self-lessly shed our silly looking hats and secured them over Donald and Herbert respectively, to protect them as they clung shamelessly to our back packs.
We rounded the first corner on route to the all-important cathedral and there were Anna and Remi again! They were headed for the bus stop. By now their feet are so broken, they must bus to Burgos and seek serious medical attention. We farewelled them and meandered on to the Cathedral of the chicken and the rooster fame. We have failed to enter a number of churches and cathedrals,(the Pilgim path passess one in every town!)now, suddenly with the chance to pay 2.5€ each for the privilege, there we are lining up! It was beautiful and we’ll pretend the peace was not being shattered by vacuum cleaners, tile cutters and hammers, and we took our time to absosrb the beauty.Only per chance did I glance back and see the live birds in their sacrosanct coop, up high nearly out of camera range.
We were failry relaxed with only 21 or 23 kms or whatever ahead of us so it was mid-morning when we crossed the bridge out of Santa Domingo, heading (you guessed it!) up hill to Belorado.
Some 3 kms up the road, Gwyneth spotted the problem! “What has Donald done with your hat?” Oh no!
The sun was showing signs of heating things up very soon and Donald had ditched my hat! Telling Gwyneth to carry on, I turned tail back to town at a fast clip. I asked of each Pilgrim , had they seen a hat kicking about in the dust? Not quite like that but sign language conveyed something along those lines. I finally found a couple who could report in broken English that a pilgrim about 50 years old, wearing a blue jacket and shorts and a hat – appeared to be carrying a spare grey hat, and could that be it? They saw him pick it up outside the cathedral. Indeed it could be my hat and the chap they were describing had been about 25 meters ahead of us as we crossed the bridge and he took another road. (That was 25 meters ahead before I had turned back to town).
With a sense of purpose such as I have not so far encountered on this wee walk, I turned around to again head west and try to catch up with the Pilgrim of the blue jacket and 2 hats.
Gwyneth maintains a steady speed, not too fast, not too slow, but it would be fair to say that by the time I reached her, the Pilgrim I needed to catch was closer to 125 meters ahead. Breathlessly, I told her I would keep going…had to get my hat…Donald was definitely in the bad books!
Recent half marathon training paid off and short of breaking into a run, I started to gain on my prey. The downhill run gave me some advantage but the uphill looming in the distance gave me even more impetus. I really, seriously, did not want to be chasing at this speed up hill! Our austere night in the convent was paying off and luckily the road took a hairpin under the bridge and doubled back on the other side of a drain.
This was my chance to go in for the kill! With a screech of “Peelgreimmm” (trying to cover my bets with a bit of a Spanish, French, Italian spin on things) I got the attention of about 8 pilgrims at once! Doing my best to make eye contact with ‘blue jacket’ 20 meters across the ditch, I flailed my arms about, patting my head and giving him the thumbs up – all at once (reflecting later on I recalled trying to teach Afghani refugee children in Christchurch to sing the little ditty ‘ hat on my head’, and somehow the arm actions all ended up looking a bit the same).
Lucky for me, he paused, took in the spectacle, understood and calmly waited for me to catch up. Happy to have silly looking hat back in my possession and with much grumping at Donald, I waited for Gwyneth to join us.
Donald redeemed himself a little at the first village by insisting I had earned myself a chocolate filled croissant for having exerted so much effort!
We continued to amble through a number of small villages – somehow the day passes faster with a few milestones to tick off along the way.
Belorado is small but delightful. We have caught up on laundry, the sun is again shining, Gwyneth who never sleeps during the day is snoring on her bed at 4 pm, and I am nearly up to date with the communications!
( ps. A ‘footnote’!! For those of you lying awake at night and worrying – the sock is now travelling by courier and we hope to be reunited in Leon in about a week!)