Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Camino 2013 - Day 16: Grañon To Tosantos

Over the past week or so the bottom of my heels had been hurting at the end of the day.  They felt like they had been pounded with a hammer all day.  In Santo Domingo de la Calzada I'd stopped and bought some gel heel pads.  I tried them out on my walk to Tosantos and they helped ... that is when they weren't slipping in my shoe.  They were not a perfect solution but they did help and I would wear them for awhile.

Down turned sunflower fields.
The walk to Tosantos was uneventful.  We wondered at having a playground right outside of a cemetery (cradle to grave, so to speak) in the small village of Viloria de Rioja.  We stopped for breakfast in Belorado and went into the church.

Pilgrim mural in Belorado.
We arrived in Tosantos and checked into the albergue.  The albergue is run by Dominican Monk volunteers.  One has been hospitalero there for twenty years or more and it is his home.  We were checked in with a couple other pilgrims including one that could be considered a professional pilgrim.  Professional pilgrims spend all their time walking back and forth along the Camino.  They tend to be a bit unkept and survive on charity mostly.  He turned out to be a rather nice guy who helped treat other people's feet and blisters.

My heel blister was looking worse (it looked sort of like raw hamburger) though it wasn't stopping me from walking.  I decided when we arrived in Burgos, I would visit a pharmacy and get another opinion.  This is kind of what I did last time.  I stopped in Burgos to let my tendonitis heal.  Hopefully this blister wouldn't require a stay in Burgos like last time.

Ermita de la Virgen de la Peña above Tosantos.
I'd meant to stop in Tosantos last Camino but didn't.  There is an hermitage here that has a lot of history.  In the afternoon a lady from the village takes people on tours of the small Hermita de la Virgen de la Peña.  The small chapel is built into the side of a cliff.  No one knows how old the chapel is.  The facade of the church was rebuilt in the 1950s and is stamped 1601 but our tour guide, after politely, but firmly, discussing it with the professional pilgrim, insisted that it was much older and they did not know when it had been built.  It sounded like a story to keep the tourists coming in my opinion. (Pictures were not permitted inside the chapel.)

That evening the hospitaleros were preparing dinner.  Ny was there.  She didn't speak Spanish and was a vegetarian.  Wanting to be helpful Gv asked the older hospitalero if there would be a vegetarian option.  The hospitalero ignored her.  Thinking she hadn't been understood she rephrased her question.  At this the hospitalero stared at her and asked her if she knew this song and began humming loudly about six inches from her face.  Thinking he wasn't understanding Gv's question I asked in my slightly better Spanish.  He then stared at me and asked the same question, humming very loudly in my face.  At this point I turned and left the kitchen.  He followed me out of the kitchen and started to lecture me.  He said it was his house and that we would eat whatever was put in front of us.  He said this wasn't a restaurant and if we didn't like the food we could go to the restaurant across the street.  He said pilgrims should not demand and should only thank their host for what they get.  I tried to explain that we were simply asking a question and not demanding anything but, in my flustered state, my Spanish wouldn't come out.  All he needed to do was say "no" and it would have been all done.  It made Gv and I very uncomfortable.

If I'd been more confident I would have packed my bags and walked on to the next town but I was afraid it would be full (the place up ahead had only fourteen beds).  The next day some other pilgrims would tell us that there had been empty beds in the next town.  *sigh*

The meal was supposed to be at 8:00PM but mass started late and was held at 7:45PM and lasted an entire hour (it was officiated over by a German monk who we'd met in Sarrance on the Aragones).  This delayed the meal until near 9:00PM.  Before the meal the hospitalero was a bit repentant and, in a roundabout way, apologized.  He then provided a vegetarian option for Ny and a few others.  Even so, it was weird.

As we ate our meal I talked with an Israeli woman (Lh).  We were talking about the use of electronics and the different ways people walk their own Caminos.  She accused me of being judgemental.  I have to admit, and I admitted to her, that the Camino made me judgemental.  I have tried to get past it but all the electronics being used and the people using taxi services to transport their bags rubbed me the wrong way.  Lh did not agree with me and you could tell she was judging me a bit.  I then said "You tell me that I am being too judgemental but I can't help feeling like I'm being judged."  A strange look came over Lh's face.  She smiled and agreed.  The rest of our talk was less judgmental and more pleasant.

We all cleaned up after the meal.  Gv and I did the dishes and then went straight to bed (more uncomfortable mats).  This had been a weird end of our day.

Gv had stayed here the last Camino and had not had any issues.  She said the older hospitalero hadn't interacted with the pilgrims much.  Gv and I agreed that this had been our first (and only) bad experience on the Camino.  Sadly the bad experience wasn't over yet.  There would be more the next morning.

Pictures can be found in my 2013 Camino de Santiago Google Photos album.

Total Distance on Day 16: 21 km ( 13.05 Miles)
Total Distance Walked: 361 km (224.32 Miles)

Approximate Track of the day's hike.
[Click on map for a larger version]

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