Only one early riser today. The more quiet, non-English speaking Czech woman headed out solo. Perhaps remnants from last night’s dinner table theatrics with the ‘Musketeers’. No details of the incident had been shared. The threat of rain haunted an early exit for most everyone else. Castrojeriz was the next village en route from the Monastery. Being Sunday, the day of rest, this peaceful little village was completely asleep, leaving us yearning for the usual morning coffee stop. One tiny shop was open which allowed us to purchase a tin of sardines and a tomato to add to our lunch bag. We held out hopes of finding a coffee as we continued walking down this seemingly long, endless village road. Later, I read that Castrojeriz’s village layout was pure Jacobean urbanism, meaning that houses are located along the village road, and this particular ‘urban route’ was one of the longest on the Camino. A 9th century Castillo (castle) loomed up a nearby hill. The misty rain and heavy, dark clouds deterred our decision to trudge up to further investigate. The castle was significant during the Reconquista, when Spanish Christians were fighting for their land against the invading Moors. This could explain the reason eight Pilgrim hospitals once stood here. Not only were ancient Pilgrims challenged with the Camino, but there was also the potential to be caught in the line of fire. The present day Camino now seemed like a cakewalk compared to former times. Once through this town and still coffee-less, a long slow elevation climb led us up the Alto de Mostelares bestowing us with a vast view of the plains. Few trees were noted on this flat, beautifully barren landscape. A woman with her companion dog at her side served up hot drinks and snacks at the basic shelter atop. Rain leaked through the makeshift plastic rooftop. This was one of many mobile (movil) cafes along the route, which seemed to pop up in the middle of nowhere. These cafes determined their own hours of opening and closing and location. I pulled out my emergency rain poncho as a heavier rain commenced. This was the scale of my protective rain gear. The day continued and the sun eventually surfaced. It soon became apparent how little shade was on this stretch of the Camino. Later the wind picked up to a challenging force as there was nothing in it’s path to slow it down. I tightened my trusty travel scarf around my face to guard against the raw elements of sun and wind. Despite everyone’s concern for the boredom of this section of the Camino, it did hold it’s own soulful beauty. Feelings rose of being completely alone in nature and being challenged by her power and strength.
We passed the Muskateer group sans the one Czech, back and forth during the day. Their day seemed to be even more unhurried than ours. I stopped to pee where I could take some cover and my traveling companion Kashi continued on alone. I wondered why he didn’t wait. My ‘monkey mind’ was ready to retaliate, but I stepped back and tried to find distance from this mind chatter. The term Money Mind or Kapicitta was coined about two and a half millennia ago by Buddha referring to the state of mind where we ‘swing from branch to branch’ with our ever changing thoughts. The time on the Camino was a treasured time to slow the thinking, reflect and attempt to find that inner peaceful state. Kashi deserved having some space and time too. I had appreciated several solo days before we had met up. I buckled under the wind and strode forth with my scarf wrapped as if an Arabian Bedouin. I could see for miles on this lonesome flat terrain. I kept a distance between us until we reached our stopping town. Ready to call it a day, we stopped in the town of Boadilla Del Camino. The streets were empty, with no sign of life. We were hungry and wondering if this was yet another Sunday town with no open venues. We rounded a corner and came upon a full outdoor patio with laughing and talking Pilgrims. Apparently this was the only joint in town to get some grub. We inquired about a room, but the inn was crowded and full. The time was to eat and worry later about a bed. It was Kashi’s turn to do room reconnaissance. On his recon, he encountered the Musketeers once again. They weren’t happy with the accommodation choices and were thinking of camping out somewhere. A Frenchman had joined them, who had a tent and was willing to share. They were considering where to pitch the tent for the night. They stated they were tired of the tourist side of the Camino but didn’t expand on the thought. We ended up taking a private room that night at a nearby hotel. The next town was another 5 kilometers and we had already walked 23 km. We were tired and the padding on my feet had started to become more tender. The hotel owner invited us to watch the soccer match between Sevilla and Barcelona that evening for the Spain Championship. I envisioned a bar full of rowdy excitable, standing-room-only fans, but it ended up being all men sitting at scattered tables in a slightly darkened room. The game started late at 9:30 pm. We joined the group for the length of a beer and then departed. Neither of us were great sports fans and a private room awaited us sans bunkmates. Go Team!