Morning coffee taken at the standing room only bar at the hostel. We offered up a coffee to one of the Musketeers who was waiting around for his compadres and in the meantime attempting to stuff a sweatshirt into the top of his huge pack. Perhaps this coffee symbolized an extension of an ‘olive branch’ in guise of an attempt to find our own peace with this Musketeer Ensemble with their tendency to disrupt the Camino’s generally tranquil energy. Most walked for some sort of personal or spiritual reason, and thus that in itself transformed the Camino into a more sacred experience. Peacefulness and respect go along with these intentions.
Despite my attempts to cultivate this Camino spirit, I felt slightly ambivalent towards the Musketeers up to this point. They hung by themselves, rarely interacted with other Pilgrims, and yet seemed to cause a bit of a ruckus when around.
This Frenchman whose backpack must have weighed near 50 pounds was the more quiet of the group. The recommended weight to carry was no more than 10% of your body weight with maximum of 10 kg / 22 lbs. He carried camping gear and what appeared to be a lot of other unnecessary stuff, at least for the Camino. My pack’s weight tipped over my 10% limit despite my trail of discarded clothing. We stood by the bar with our expressos and conversed in simple English, being the mutually known language of our trio.
Sombrero man entered and a coffee was extended as well to him. We found out he was from Catalonia, the province that has repeatedly attempted to break off from Spain, but has yet to gain the required vote. His given nickname morphed into ‘The Catalonian’ from here onward. Kashi held high regard for folks that fought the norm or were rebellious in nature. The Catalonians were on his admiration list. Hugo Chavez was as well, as he stood up against President Bush at a U.N. Assembly, however after Hugo slowly destroyed his own country, he lost favor. May other nonconformists could be added. So perhaps Kashi could understand the Musketeers with their avant-guard manners better than I.
Today was yet another beautiful walking day winding through several villages en route. Small little knobby hills located outside these villages had doors built into their grassy hillside. We learned that these were old bodegas used to store food and vino. Some were still in use.
We passed through the bigger town of Sahugan, but had little interest in lingering. We gravitated towards the quieter countryside. The calm of walking slowly and mindfully felt interrupted in these more populated towns with their city noises, trucks and cars.
Seems there is some wiggle room on exactly where the Camino half-way mark is located. Sahugan was listed by some as that point. A few villages passed boasted the same landmark. Officially therefore, I estimated the half way mark had been passed. My spirit jumped and my ego lifted. We were progressing, but the journey really was about the day to day, and not the finish line, wasn’t it?
By day’s end we would be coming to a fork in the road. A longer diversional route was possible that would later hook back up with the main route. I had decided that every diversion offered, I wanted to take. I like the solitude that these alternativo routes offered. There were times on the Camino that I didn’t always feel like saying Buen Camino to every person passed. I wanted to be in my own world. Not many pilgrims chose the longer alternatives. They may have had a stricter timeline or were just too tired out.
We ended up in small hostel in Calzada Del Coto just passed the fork. The day was sunny and we arrived earlier than our usual late afternoon arrival. The hostel was simple with one communal room that had a basic food prep area, a hot plate and a fridge with a long community table running down the center. The other room was a big dorm room with 30 or so bunk beds. A few people were sitting quietly on their beds. Everyone had spaced themselves out. After so many nights in a hostel, when space is available, it is usual taken.
An older Romanian woman instructed us on some of the rules of the hostel as the caretaker was not around. She had been walking over 30 km the last few days and shared she may have overdone it and needed a rest day. The book recommends rest days and I realized the only one I really took thus far was my day waiting for Kashi in Logrono. We were moving slow, so everyday seemed a bit like a rest day.
I had time to hand wash clothes, but was too lazy to carry out. This is what I should have been doing all along, but I was spoiled from the start when the Chilean gal, on one of the first days, suggested we all share a washer together. Since that time, I pretty much used washing machines. I would wait till all my clothes were dirty, then throw the load in and sit around in my sarong til completed. Most hostelers hand washed their clothes daily. Perhaps this meant I was carrying more than I should, but I didn’t want to part with any more clothes. I was unloading my brain, so why was it so difficult to unload clothes. Buddhist would say I had attachments. Slowly slowly.
The hostel didn’t fill and thus everyone was comfortably spaced. Funnily enough, the Musketeers showed up at day’s end. They sat on a picnic table in the park across the road while most of the hostelers sat at the big wooden table inside discussing world affairs. A Danish couple was strongly and proudly sharing how the Danish gov’t had perfected running a country and caring for the social needs of all. Their argument was sound, albeit with a higher tax rate and I was a bit envious as I mentally compared the United State’s approach to health care for it’s denizens. Several countries were represented at the table. Another United Nations hostel gathering passed the time quickly for the evening. No other noted dramas for the night.