Despite the bunk beds in last night’s accommodation being more like hammocks with deeply sagging springs and mattresses, we all had a good night’s sleep in the tiny albergue and weren’t in any rush to leave as we had a short day today. Eli went off in search of breakfast, and Marilyn and I departed at a very tardy 07:50, leaving Paul eating his porridge.
Again the day started dull, but not nearly so cold as the previous days. We soon found Eli who had failed in her breakfast quest and we continued to a village just a couple of kms away, but none of the several bars were open. We eventually found more life at 13 km in the sizeable town of Nava de la Asunción, where we found Paul ensconced in a cosy cafe drinking a large cafe con leche and tucking into a tortilla. I ordered a fresh squeezed orange juice and a couple of tiny filled rolls before setting off again under the brightening sky.
The promised rain never turned up, although occasionally the clouds were quite threatening. During the first part of the walk, through pine forest we came across a message written in sticks and noticed that someone had written yesterday’s date. It may well have been Carsten or Dave who are a day ahead of us. I updated it and hoped that each passing day would bring a new pilgrim to keep the calendar correct.
We passed a newly planted strawberry field (and both Marilyn and I predictably started singing ‘strawberry fields forever’, but had to take a hop and a skip to avoid the watering system which was also watering the track and any passing pilgrims!
We all played cat and mouse with each other today. Marilyn and I walked together for a while, but I only glimpsed Paul and Eli in the distance, either in front or behind and we all walked our own walk. The second part was entirely through pine forest on very soft sand – rather like hiking on the beach. I needed a bit of propulsion, so plugged in to my camino playlist and zoomed off at a great pace. As I am sure I have said in the past, listening to music with the right beat for a quick pace really helps energise me – all aches temporarily disappear and movement is fluid.
The last ten kms seemed to pass in no time and I arrived in the town of Coca at 13:30. Paul had already found the albergue and alerted the kind hospitalera to our arrival. The albergue is in an unreformed village house and is rather basic, but has all we need. If the 16 beds were all taken, the one bathroom might have caused an impatient queue, but as we are only four, there will be no problem. Cost 5 euros. I was allocated a room with just one bunk bed which I have to myself, Paul is alone and Eli and Marilyn are sharing. The Spanish ladies walked on. I was quick into the shower and did a mound of washing before wandering out to discover the gems of Coca, including a fifteenth century Gothic-Mudéjar red brick castle, a Gothic church and the towering Mudéjar tower of San Nicolas.
There are plenty of bars, restaurants and shops here and we need to stock up on provisions as there are unlikely to be any shops open for the next two days, tomorrow being Sunday, and Monday being the Mayday national holiday.
I haven’t yet tempted fate by mentioning my lack of health issues. I stopped a blister in its tracks on day 2 by use of tape on my heel and Engo patch in my boot. I had the usual issues with my pack straps rubbing and bruising my collar bones for the first few days, but that has already eased, and my pack is generally feeling fairly comfortable and not too burdensome. So, one week in and all is well.
We have lost Carsten and Ralf for the time being and only coincided with Dave for a couple of days. But the four of us who remain are great companions, each enjoying being part of the group when it suits and wandering off on our own when it feels right. Perfect camigos.
Today’s distance 23.4 km
Accumulated uphill elevation 8 m
Accumulated downhill elevation 97 m
Total distance 175.4 km
Average per day 25 km