Saturday, September 10, 2011

Camino De Santiago - Hontanas To Boadillo Del Camino

In the morning the blister I'd drained the night before had refilled during the night.  It hurt like hell.  I stuck my foot into my shoe and it hurt less - more like heck than hell - but it felt like I had a rock in my shoe.  Now that my right ankle was fine, the blister on my left foot was becoming a pain.  I think the blister was a result of my compensating for the bad ankle.  I was playing injury ping-pong.  Just grand.

As you left Hontanas the path took you along the base of a ridge through farm fields.  It was very nice if I recall correctly.  The dirt path merges with a road and you follow the asphalt.  When I turned to join the road I felt an explosion in my boot - I could have sworn I heard the pop.  My first thought was "F***, this could end my Camino."  Then I took a step and realized that the pain I'd been feeling was diminished - not eliminated but now definitely less than heck.  For the first time since I left Burgos I smiled.  I walked on humming Joe Walsh's "Lifes Been Good".

I passed the ruins of the 15th century San Anton Convent.  There is an albergue here now.  It is not near any town (Similar to San Bol), the nearest town being Castojeriz 2 miles (3.2 km) away.  It turned out KV and MC stayed there (before I got there) and LO volunteered here when she couldn't go any farther on her bad feet (I was told this by GV in an email - she heard it from NV).  I wonder if I would have seen her if I'd stopped there but I didn't find out until the day after I passed the albergue.  (I would find out that LO's feet never got better and she went home.)

Castrojeriz was a pretty cool town located at the base of a hill.  On the top of the hill were ruins of a castle.  The castle is either Visigoth or Roman (purportedly founded by Julius Cesar).  I took a few pictures of the town and castle.

After you leave Castrojeriz you head for a hill.  As you approach you can see where the dirt road you are following winds up the hillside.  What is it with the Camino and hills?  I swear there is more up than down on the Camino.  When you get to the base of the hill there is a sign warning you of a 12% grade *sigh*.  It turned out not to be as bad I expected.  I guess all the walking I'd done up to this point was doing good ... but I did have to stop a couple times on the way up.  There's a nice rest area up at the top but I didn't stop.  On the other side of the hill the road headed back down.  The sign on this side warned of an 18% grade.  Whoopee.  While the views from the top of the hill were awesome, my knees were not happy going down that hill.

While the Meseta officially starts after Burgos I think what most people think of the Meseta - the flat, straight, and desolate part of the Camino - starts after you come down from that hill.  It's also when the weather turned for me.  Days were overcast (a blessing), the temperatures turned cold (not a blessing), and a cold wind started blowing (definitely not a blessing) starting from here.

I arrived at Boadillo del Camino and checked into the tiny municipal albergue.  I think it had about 20 beds but was dirt cheap - €3 (just over $4).  Maybe if I'd paid €4 I would have gotten toilet paper.  I did my chores and went outside and tried to find a place to sit that was in the sun but out of the wind which was not an easy thing to do on a windy overcast day.  I sat down and looked at the bottom of my foot.  The blister was huge - as big as my head.  Just behind the little toe was the jagged hole, the result of the explosion I'd felt earlier.  That thing wasn't going to close up anytime soon.  I used the last of my blister treating supplies and dressed it as best I could.  Now that I'd stopped walking and my feet were no longer numb it hurt ... a lot ... and it was kind of disgusting.  I think my journal entry says it best:
"My foot is draining liquid onto my flip-flop.  Woopee."
I walked hobbled around town, blown around by the cold wind, and found little of interest until I found the private albergue.  Private albergues are albergues run by private citizens/companies.  They are often more expensive than the municipal (run by the state/city) or the parochial (run by the church) albergues but they can be nicer.  This one was typical.  My municipal albergue was a deserted isle compared to the private's Club Med.  I went in and used their Internet and bought some fruit.  I should have stayed there.  I bet they had toilet paper.

I ate a light and late lunch at the bar attached to my albergue and went to bed early (thank God they had blankets).  I don't think I talked to anyone in this town except when I was buying something.  I hadn't really talked with anyone since the very brief conversation with the British couple in Hontanas.  The isolation was starting to get to me.  I felt emotionally drained.  My foot was hurting and another long stage like the last two was not in the cards. That didn't help.  The extra effort I needed  for my catch up plan was not only impossible, but the energy I'd already expended was going to go to waste, a victim of my foolishness.

Day seventeen ended with me facing my limitations.  I would make the next day one of my shortest stages, and all the extra distance I'd achieved the past two days was gone.


Total Distance: 17.60 Miles (28.32 km)
Total Time: 5 hours 48 minutes
Total Elevation Up: 2,480 ft (755.90 m)
Total Elevation Down: 2,815 ft (858.01 m)

[Click on map for a larger version]

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