I preferred to linger in the luxury of a private room when taken. I savored the quiet peaceful wake to the day, absent of rustling of bags being packed or loud, early-bird exiting Pilgrims.
Our walk seemed slow and infinite due to the flat, mostly treeless terrain. The wind was a more gentle friend today and the sky was that perfect mix of blue and clouds. It was a lovely country scene.
We had a destination in mind today. Kashi wanted to visit a special church in Villacazar. We would spend the night there. We had only 20 kms to tread, so we dawdled.
Today’s Camino section offered a diversional river walk off the main path. It added 0.9 km to one’s footwork and rejoined the main path by day’s end. If it meant breaking from the pack, I usually opted for the less travelled path and this was no exception. This route didn’t guarantee any restaurants or cafes so we packed our usual lunch bag with a can of sardines, cheese, bread, olives and chocolate, then headed out.
We surprisingly stumbled upon an empty, open cafe with outdoor seating in a big open green space. Much easier to slip off the ol’ shoes without offending if sitting outside. The joy of a simple disrobing felt wondrous on my overly trodden feet. No blisters yet, but the padding on my feet was feeling more delicate at times.
No pilgrims were encountered on this route. We were alone. This diversion ran fairly parallel with the main path, thus periodically we could eye the pack ambling in the distance.
Unfortunately, on arrival into Villacazar, we discovered the church that we wanted to visit was closed on Monday, so we were out of luck. This special Templar Church was the Santa Maria la Virgen Blanca, built in the 12th Century. The architectural style was a mix of Romanesque to Gothic.
Romanesque style begin around 1000 AD and lasted for about 200 years. Key features were rounded arches, a cross shaped layout and and smaller windows. Gothic style merged in the years following and included more stained glass, thus more light, pointed arches and columns that could support vaulted ceilings. Buttresses were added to support the weight of the vaults. The Crusades assisted with this mix of styles as the Gothic designs were admired from conquered places and brought back with them.
We were able to grab enough provisions at the local store, during it’s two hour afternoon opening, to cook at the hostel. We seemed to get the same items with each provision stop, albeit a different vegetable now and then. There was a full hostel kitchen here, so Pilgrims could prepare their own meals. This option definitely helped the budget minded.
A Spanish man was in the kitchen eating his dinner. We struck up a conversation with him. He had done this Camino, the Camino Frances, several times in addition to walking many of the other Caminos. There are at least nine other paths that eventually lead to Santiago from all over Europe. Walking seemed to be his passion. He said, “My treasure is time.”
I understood this treasure from my many extended travels, where the clock is on your side. Time is priceless and the transition back to a schedule after months off traveling is excruciating. In addition, the reverse culture shock is just that, shocking. I chide myself as I so easily get caught right back into the turbo pace of American culture. What I did learn about being mindful and slow seemed so quickly lost.
Our dinner conversation included India. Kashi and I had met in India as solo travelers. The Spaniard shared that he had a Guru (spiritual teacher) from India in Spain, but had never been to India. Our acquaintance wore a big shade protecting hat, so he was christened, Sombrero Man. He was quiet spoken and I liked his presence. He was unassuming, thought provoking, yet reserved in nature.
We realized it was still fairly early after cleaning up from dinner. Kashi went for a walkabout town while I chilled on a bench. He bumped into the 'Musketeers' again sitting at a plaza cafe and discovered they too were staying at the same hostel. They had arrived late in the day, so the hostel host accommodated them all by opening up a second spare dorm room.
I was tired tonight and went to bed early. Footsteps slowly pattered in. There was some commotion heard from outside our dorm room, but I didn’t care. I was too tired and foggy to investigate, I drifted off.