The next morning Ilse, Joyce and the Dutch guy wanted to go the bull run early. Anja and I were not eager to go.

We slept in and took a delicious, long breakfast. Finally we set out together late in the morning. The other dutchies were also pleasantly surprised that we were hardly bothered by any fellow pilgrims.

On our way we passed the unique pilgrim well Irache where we could actually tap wine from the wall. Ilse took the initiative and like a real pilgrim drank from her scallop. Anja, Joyce and I followed suit. Rather cheerful we continued, the three dutchies always robustly upright, but with the aid of their beloved walking sticks. I wobbled behind without walking sticks, with the shell dangling from my backpack. And honestly… the steady ticking of their irritating walking sticks kept me in line now ;-)

fear to sleep out in the open

When after a very relaxed hike we arrived in Villamayor de Monjardin, only two inns were available. We, as four dutchies, were given the last beds of the village. That felt very strange. For the first time we noticed how other pilgrims had to sleep outside that night. And it was bitterly cold. Fear settled in… Everyone was talking about it. I did not have a sleeping mat with me either. I had sent home my wonderfully thick fluffy sleeping bag. So what if I had to sleep outside the next time?

The next morning I woke very early at 4 AM. A French pilgrim in our dormitory got up to set out in the dark. Apart from the irritating noise in the dormitory I did not understand at all what was the fun of this. You could not see anything in the dark, no nature, no encounters, no photos.

fear of a thunderstorm

My itinerary indicated that my next stage ran from Villamayor de Monjardin to Viana, a route of 31 km in 8.30 hours. The other dutchies had left early again, despite the positive late start of the previous day. I myself had no idea where I would end up that day, nor had I made any arrangements with the dutchies. One way or another we were confident that we would meet again, if it had to be.

On the way I saw a beautiful landscape with some hills and vast fields with nice small villages. I did notice that I let myself be egged on by the spectacular dark skies that were chasing me. My speed accelerated. I was still walking in the sun, but those dark skies were heading toward me rapidly. I was not afraid of rain, but a thunderstorm did frighten me.

This suddenly reminded me of an earlier, brisk mountain hike in France, when my friend and I were suddenly caught by severe weather, with flashes of lighting hitting the ground all around us. That was rather violent and life-threatening.

I had started to run by now...There was no shelter anywhere, for I was walking through open fields and there was not a pilgrim in sight. Gosh, that thick backpack was really bothering me. I stumbled and fell… looked at myself and burst into laughter. This was absolute nonsense, I was only making myself mad. There was no thunderstorm, just the threat. Get up and continue.

After a couple of hours of stressed hiking with dark clouds in my neck, I was very happy to reach the next village, Los Arcos. As a reward I treated myself to a cup of coffee. According to my cursed itinerary I had to walk an additional five hours to Viana. That was really too far. I decided to continue as far as the next village, Sansol.

surprise

In Sansol the municipal inn was full. The village was small, so there didn’t seem to be anything else. Continuing to the next village with a heavy heart, I suddenly heard my name being called from a side alley. I looked left… and yes, there suddenly were three cheerful dutchies sitting at the sole local bar. Once again we were overjoyed, as if we hadn’t seen each other for ages.

They told me that they had found a luxurious private inn just like that, with a room where there were four beds. The fourth bed was still vacant. I needed no respite and checked in immediately. The inn had an amazing garden and the hostess offered to cook for us. That was a wonderful and welcome surprise!

a special encounter

The next morning we set out as four dutchies again. We made a short hike to Viana, a beautiful town. I went from shop to shop, looking for a sleeping mat in case I had to sleep outside one night. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find anything. We checked into the parish inn with sleeping mats on the floor.

In this inn I met a Korean. He walked the Camino barefooted without a penny in his pocket. So he had to sleep outside often. My mouth fell open and I was deeply impressed. Suddenly I realised that he was a huge mirror of my own fears. He taught me an important lesson:

‘your backpack is full of fears’

How striking that I could not find a sleeping mat… now I knew that it had to be that way.

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