Day 10: Santo Domingo de la Calzada to Belorado
Now my body seemed to walk itself, the road walking my body. I realized that I could go on walking around the world if only the land did not end. – Edward F. Stanton
Cock-a-doodle-do! Yes, that beloved rooster in the chicken coop beneath our window decided to greet us at 4:00 a.m.! In the darkness of the early morning, I could hear my fellow pilgrims’ groans while I giggle uncontrollably.
As I lie in bed trying to quiet myself, I think through my morning tasks and today’s journey. Will it rain today? I check the weather app and see we have clear sailing ahead. Phew! What does the route look like to Belorado? I grab my mini flashlight, pull open my guidebook, and review the stage. We first pass through Grañon, the last town of Rioja. TIP (Camino Alburgue): I later learned Grañon houses the most amazing alburgue on the upper floor of the annex next to the Church of Saint John the Baptist. Pilgrims gather and participate in a beautiful and touching ceremony and then share a meal in this tranquil setting. I am told the experience is worth the extra kilometers after Santo Domingo. The rest of the route seems to gradually take us uphill with an approximate 1000 m elevation change. Also looks like we encounter three river crossings, which means quaint bridges. Yay! I then research Belorado and places to stay. I’ll see what my pilgrim friends are thinking about lodging when we get going.
7:00 a.m. sharp the hospitalero enters our room and chimes a bell to wake us and encourage our departure. A much better alarm clock than that darn rooster. We all quickly dress, pack our backpacks, and head out the door by 7:30 a.m. Navigating by the town’s lights and the setting moon, Marilee, Russ the leprechaun, and I walked out of town together.
At this point of the Camino, I begin to see our ‘bubble’ of pilgrims disperse. Jim from Calgary got an earlier start and we haven’t seen him since. Many walked the extra kilometers the day before to experience the alburgue in Grañon. Others also begin to walk off-stage to land in a bigger town or city and experience extra sightseeing. This is very much the Camino and what you experience in a pilgrimage. My heart wrestles with a feeling of loss. I am learning how much I give to and love others, only to be disappointed when they leave me. The ebb and flow of pilgrim family members triggers me, but it also teaches me that love – if meant to be – will return.
I shake this feeling while on the trail, knowing Marilee and I had made plans to meet Angela from the UK in Burgos in a couple of days. Angela traveled ahead to meet her husband, Peter, who would fly in to visit her. How sweet is that?
The sunrise behind us fills the sky with gorgeous reds as we stop to admire a beautiful cross. Today I am feeling stronger and push through the walk like working out on an elliptical for 6 hours. Now comfortable with the fluid motion between my legs and walking poles, my arms are becoming surprisingly strong. My feet, well they are not catching up to my body strength yet… but are healing.
This stage of 22.9 km (14.2 miles) is not challenging, so we take our time and stop for several breaks. We eventually catch up with our German friends Rene (18) and Frank. We also pass many of our new Korean friends. Remember Tall Korean Dude? Well, I finally learned his name is Shin. 🙂
We quickly end our walking day at 2:30 p.m. as we enter Belorado and find our alburgue. Arriving together, Marilee, Russ, Rene, and I are assigned our own shared room. We quickly complete our end-of-day tasks and settle in while we wait for dinner, which is located in our alburgue. I continue to look forward to our communal pilgrim dinners at the close of each day.
I took advantage of the extra time before dinner, so after showering, clothes washing, and a short rest, I head out to explore the town. In the main plaza, I stumble upon a group of pilgrims gathered and sharing stories. Dave from the UK caught up to us and also shared beers. After a market run to purchase snacks for tomorrow’s hiking adventure, I return to the alburgue for our dinner.
It’s now time to lay my head on the pillow and reflect. It was a good day. My body is stronger, the rhythm is soothing, and my friendships are growing. I look forward to what tomorrow holds.
Good night sweet family and friends.