Still a little wobbly, I walked through the streets of Castrojeriz and could not believe that I was walking without pain. I also felt so different, so light.

As if I could walk light-footed, despite my heavy hiking boots. Suddenly I remembered the first line of a prayer of a monk in a parish inn:

'blessed are you, pilgrim, if you discover that El Camino open your eyes to what is not seen'

I felt so privileged to have experienced this! As a happy pilgrim I left the village of Castrojeriz and saw the steep slope of the meseta rearing up before me. What a lovely view!

In the distance I saw a pilgrim walking. When I approached, I immediately recognised his silhouette. He wore a hat, one walking cane, and was walking slowly, barefooted. How funny, it was the Korean. I hadn’t seen him for a long time.

I passed him and looked to the right smiling. He looked and smiled too. We greeted each other, stopped and exchanged some words. We were both taped in, his feet and my leg. A funny sight, side by side!

My trip continued and as a precaution for my leg I decided to make a short hike and spend the night in the next village, Itero de la Vega. After a three-hour hike I arrived there. My leg had done excellently, I felt no pain whatsoever.

The atmosphere of this village felt strange though, a bit spooky. It all looked a bit desolate, as if the original inhabitants had left without notice, leaving everything behind.

I checked in at an inn. Inside there was not a pilgrim in sight. When I entered my dormitory I saw that all bedspreads, curtains and floors were printed with lots of flowers. It made me dizzy and hyper. It didn’t smell very pleasant either, and strange enough didn’t dare to touch anything. Everything was rather sallow. My shower was not only cold, but terribly dirty too. Downstairs, in the dining room, loud rock music was played. The atmosphere in the entire inn was so oppressive and gloomy that it didn’t feel right. The entire village didn’t feel right…

but was it wise to continue my trip?

I wanted to be careful with my leg

In an impulse I quickly grabbed my backpack and put on my hiking gear. I went to the hostess of the inn and kindly said, but without giving any reasons, that I wished to continue my trip.

Suddenly she started to shout very loud in Spanish. It startled me enormously and I didn’t understand it at all. She walked to the cash register, took out 10 euros and threw it into my hand. Then she pointed at the door, swearing.

I fled out of the inn… I wanted to leave this ghost town as quickly as possible. My big backpack hadn’t been fastened yet and shook in all directions. I ran as fast as I could and finally came to a standstill outside the village. Panting, I sat down on the ground and it took a while for me to calm down…

I was really scared

I hadn’t experienced this before. And I hadn’t even asked for my money, I couldn’t care less about that.

so I could always trust my intuition

Wow… this was a completely different goodbye from this morning. As a precaution for my leg I had decided not to walk any further. Suddenly I realized that this

was a decision based on fear, and mainly a rational one

Whereas I had just learnt that

'the best plan was no plan'

Sigh…

After I had calmed down I consulted my route description and saw that the next village was a three-hour hike. I had no choice, anything was better than staying in this ghost town.

It was hot and dead silent on the hiking path, not a pilgrim in sight. I continued in a steady pace and arrived in Boadilla del Camino three hours later.

Fortunately, this village seemed a lot friendlier. I found an inn with a wonderful garden and swimming pool. The scene looked attractive, pilgrims hung around everywhere.

Apparently there was no one I knew. I joined a table with a mixed company. A cheeky Spanish lady with a cigarette offered me a glass of wine straight away. Next to her was an American lady with a laptop in her lap. She was talking to a very small, elderly lady from Italy. I got involved in nice conversations and became curious about the stories of these ladies.

My dutchies and Miss Kiwi were far away and this made me think of the wise words of my earlier Spanish friend:

'there will always be other pilgrims with whom you will write a new story'

 

Read what happens next in Santiago 14

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