El Camino Day 16 & 17 -Singalongs and Masseuses

Carrion de los Condes ➡ Terradillos de los Templarios

Carrion de los Condes is not a large town, but neither was it a blip like some of those that we had passed through previously. It had all we needed for an extra day stay, including not one, but two outdoors shops and a very quaint town square. Royce may have made excellent time arriving in Terradillos after leaving me in Fromista to pick up my bag and find a taxi, but it was at the expense of his hip. Fifteen days into our journey and I definitely wasn’t the only one feeling the pain of the monotonous walk.

The sisters of Albergue Parroquial de Santa Maria were very accommodating to us and let us stay an extra night. This is not common practice unless you are a. injured or b. sick. Most pilgrims stay a maximum of one night in each albergue. If you want to stay longer in a town, it is best to book a B&B or hotel. Our rest day happened to conveniently coincide with just over a week since I had my run in with bedbugs, or chinchas as the Spanish call them. Bedbugs eggs hatch after about six to ten days. On that note of paranoia and being thoroughly sick of the itchy red welts on my arms and legs, we took a precautionary step and spent the day at the laundromat cleaning and drying EVRYTHING.. AGAIN. This was also in Royce’s opinion an easy way to keep me off my feet as I sat and uploaded photos to Instagram while waiting for our clothes to wash and dry. (Head over to @thetravellingshepherds and @kiwishepherdadventures on Insta if you want to see the highlights of said photos.)

That evening I sat down with the other pilgrims staying in the hostel, and the nuns to be a part of a welcome, a reflection and a singalong. The sisters started the singalong, guitar in hand, we collectively joined our voices in chorus, then the sisters opened the floor. Among the pilgrims was Eduardo (a friend we had made previously on the walk.) He had his whole young family arrive in Carrion de los Condes, to help spur him on and join some of his walk. Eduardo’s smile overtook his laughing kind face being reunited with his family again. During the evening reflection, Eduardo with his daughter sang a beautiful rendition of amazing grace that brought the whole crowd to tears. A reminder too many why they were here on this trip to honour loved ones. Another pilgrim who we had been travelling alongside known as Tunesong, (a Korean Oprah singer) along with a few other Korean walkers present sang a beautiful Korean melody of welcome. The Camino’s ability to blend culture and bring out the beauty of humanity still surprised and heartened me while I sat with my ankle still throbbing listening to beautiful music in every language and stories of hardship, heartbreak, strength and triumph as pilgrims shared their reasons for walking this path.

Later Royce and I met Dan, a mid-twenties security worker who had manged to blister the entire bottom of his foot. Though jovial and upbeat about the situation, he had not had a great time so far. When the blister developed he went to one of the many pharmacists along the route and unfortunately it took three pharmacists and a trip to the doctor to disinfect and bandage his foot before he made any progress on starting the healing process. Dan actually had very well-worn shoes, however they were just poor quality and needed to buy new ones to carry on the walk. (Remember shoes are the most important part of this trip!) He was limping as badly as I was and agreed because of my also exceedingly slow pace to walk with us.

Day 17 was flat, flat monotonous and boring. Endless stretches of harvested fields, flowing into shelter belts of trees and the odd rise and fall of our dusty track. We were in the maseta. Thankfully, we had a new walking buddy and as the kilometres slowly limped by we got to know our fellow pilgrim. It Made the walk seem much easier, less arduous with someone else’s thoughts and experiences to break up our own pondering. We stopped often to rest, sampling the freshly squeezed orange juice and refreshing sangria to ease the pain on our feet. I sent my pack ahead again, Royce unwilling to let me carry it and seeing the sense in it myself, even if it still felt like cheating. Still, I was relieved when we arrived in Terradillos de los Condes. We followed the yellow arrows into town and veered off to find our albergue for the night; the wind had picked up. I was happy to have a place to rest and settle down for the night as we pushed open the gate into the sheltered Albergue front garden. Inside we got a room and LOW AND BEHOLD A MASSUASE! The Camino shall provide! with Royce’s hip still sore and my ankle still, well. Feeling like it would be beneficial to chop it off!

The masseuse was a short stocky woman with bright pink-purple scrubs and a no-nonsense air. She spoke as much English as the previous masseuse I had met, but was equally skilled. She worked muscled hands painfully down my calf as the gentle smell of incense filled my sences. She finished smoothing taught muscle in my legs and taped it up with blue and black kinesiology tape. Instructing me through broken English and my poor Spanish that I needed to take it easy and leave the tape on for three to four days and my ankle would be as good as new. Relief washed over me, I could continue! I wanted to hug her; it felt like another Camino miracle here in the desert. A sense of calm settled over me knowing I had done no damage to ankle or foot, I wasn’t finished yet!

That evening Dan, Royce and I sat in the long narrow seating area of the Albergue bar and counted out our pennies. We had enough to have a few pain relief drinks at the bar. In the background, a Spanish version of Beauty and the Beast played while we chatted idly. I overheard another group talking. A kiwi/Australian couple and an English couple talking about differences in culture. I was astonished and disheartened (along with the English couple) at the Kiwi couple’s attitudes toward foreigners during the conversation. For all the wonderful open-minded people we had met along the route to hear such bigotry and casual racism from my own countrymen was deeply saddening. It made me think and look at how casual racism can be, how ingrained in society it is. It truly put into perspective how travel and journeys such as these open your eyes and minds to culture. How different as people we are not. Every place we have been to people have always just been people. The cultures are different, the dress code altered, but humanity at its core is so similar, people are just people! There are nice ones, and unfortunately as I was reminded also bigoted and unpleasant ones. Here sat people in the rural surrounds of a foreign country exclaiming how foreigners had ruined their country. The irony was a slap in face.

We sat down at our small table as the clock struck seven. Time for dinner! At the back of the wood and sandstone room, small dinner tables bunched into a seating area, the walls adorned with small relics and art of the area. An eccentric beauty that fit the cosy feel of the bar. My thoughts still clouded with concern. Perhaps my version of my country was somewhat blinkered. Is New Zealand truly that bad? Were these people an accurate representation of my culture? I had yet another stark reminder of how important language and culture is. The wait staff served the pilgrim meal to the ten or so tables squeezed into the narrow room. I seemed to be the only one with any Spanish at all. Throughout our trip Royce and I have attempted to (where possible) speak in Spanish. (We are in Spain after all!) While ordering our meals, I did just that. Our waitress spoke Basic English, and I replied in Spanish. Food is one thing I had memorised. 🤣 (We gently reminded Dan how to say please and thankyou in Spanish.) The pilgrim meal, like every pilgrim meal, was basic but delicious, but what was especially noticeable as I looked around the room was the smile that held on our waitress face when serving our table. She was polite to everyone else, but it was plain that the extra effort had made a difference to her. It’s easy to forget as a native English speaker what we take for granted in knowing English. There is such an arrogance in our English-speaking countries, an expectation that everyone else should also speak our language, and yet in other countries that do not, i have had people APOLOGISE to me that there English is not better! Why is it we expected others to communicate with us, but we don’t take the time to return it? These thoughts swirled in my head as I tucked into my beef stew and chips, my resolve to become fluent in a second language strengthening.

Thanks for tuning in, as always leave and like and a comment tell us what you think, we love hearing from you! Next time on our Camino diaires we have our first day of rain! Royce is back in New Zealand so head over to Instagram to check in with his Aeoteroa adventures! (@thetravellingshepherds) I am stuck in the mud and the wet in England! And will try to get some van updates on head over to @kiwishepherdadventues on Insta to check that out! Until next time, get out the gate and get adventuring!

Buen Camino!

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