The day started pretty much as forecast. Rain. Not too hard, but persistent. We left Carrión knowing we would not pass another village for 17 km and expecting to buy something for breakfast during our route out of the town. But there was no shop or bar open. How un-enterprising of the Spanish. I am absolutely sure that all our local businesses in Cómpeta would be much more on the ball.
There were many pilgrims leaving town this morning, a steady stream of soggy humanity.
There was some wind, but nothing compared to the last two days. The rain however persisted to soak us in a gentle way, and just before reaching the first pitstop at 17 km it decided to get a bit more serious. I think every pilgrim dived into the welcoming bar and divested themselves of their dripping outer garments. Ella and I discovered that our wet gear was exactly that – wet – outside and in! I suspect that if we were wearing our gear for a stroll in the countryside the rain would have stayed on the outside, but because of all the straps pulling our jackets tight, the rain seeped through, soaking our under layers. We were both wearing duck down, Ella a short jacket with hood, and I had on my body warmer. You don’t realise how wet you are until you stop and remove the outer layer, which is when you start to cool off.
Anyway the bar was swarming with soggy pilgrims gasping for a hot drink and something to eat. We were joined at our table by the two Finish ladies we had met previously, but we were all a bit numb and didn’t converse much. They only have a few more days to walk because they are finishing at León and will possibly return another year to continue their camino.
We wanted to get out of sync with the prescribed stages of the camino today, so that we can avoid the crowds who follow the travel guides. So we continued beyond the suggested stage end at Terradillos de los Templarios for a further 5 km and have stopped for the day at a delightful small albergue and I am now sitting in front of a wood burner with another family who are staying, and I don’t expect anyone else will arrive now, so Ella and I will have a room to ourselves. What a treat!
Ella is not feeling well this afternoon, which is a real shame as she is not able to appreciate our comfortable surroundings. She has some terrible blisters, one of which was like a balloon and she virtually begged me to lance it for her because it was making her feel sick. I think she walks too fast and is too hard on her feet. Although we walk at a similar pace in the morning, she speeds up during the day (as I slow down) and she passes everyone in sight.
My feet are settling down at last. I helped the compeed plaster to detach from my heel yesterday, and that selection of blisters seem to be healing. My left heel is pretty much ok now, and all toes are in order. I still feel the pressure of the healing blisters with every step, but I can tell it is a lot easier than previous days.
This is an interesting area where many properties are constructed in mud – adobe style. I know from the terrace walls I have built in my garden using stone and mud how resilient this method is. During the last few years of heavy winter rainfall my terracing has stood the test of time and all remains in place. However the weeds find my walls a wonderful breeding ground. I am trying to overpower the weeds by spreading campanula everywhere possible, but it is an ongoing battle.
As we left Carrión this morning we saw a sign stating 405 km to Santiago. Probably 10 km along the road we saw a sign stating 455 km. This is totally typical of the local signage and we really have no idea how far remains for us to travel, but we can feel it in our bones (and in our blisters) that we are nearing the half way point.
Ella and I are now travelling alone. Peter went ahead on day 6 I think, and we walked with Søren for a few more days. Then the two of us walked alone but met with Søren in the evening, but for the last two days we have not seen him. We owe these guys a debt of gratitude for sharing their time with us, we were a real band of four and shared some good experiences and encouraged each other through the first stages of this adventure. I hope we will hear from the guys again at some point in the future and in the meantime I wish them all the very best in their personal adventures. Thanks guys!
There are some interesting statistics available from the pilgrim office in Santiago. I have copied the facts below from a blog that I am following, but I could have sourced the information for myself, if I didn’t have another white wine waiting to be drunk:
Last year, (2012) 192,488 people received their Compostela, which is a document you receive when you complete the Camino. You don’t need to have walked from St Jean Pied de Port or Roncesvalles to receive the compostela, you need only to have walked the last 100 kms.
Of those nearly 200,000 people, 49.5% were Spanish. The next highest group was German, at 8%. Italians were 6%, Americans came in at 3.6%, British were 1.9% and Australians made up 0.98%.
The majority of those that walked were aged between 30-60 years, at 57%. Under 30 was 28%, and over 60 was 15%.
The genders were almost equal – males at 56%, females at 44%.
The majority (21%) started at Sarria, 108 kms from Santiago. The next most popular starting point was St Jean Pied de Port, (nearly 800 kms), at 11.5%.
These statistics are somewhat misleading, because they represent only those who have been granted their Compostela. Many thousands more drop in and do stages, and don’t travel the full camino, often because they don’t have the time. They come back the next year and do another stage, and then another, until they complete the whole camino.
So it’s not inconceivable that last year, around a quarter of a million people walked the Camino de Santiago.