Homer's Travels: Camino De Santiago - Azofra To Grañon

Monday, August 29, 2011

Camino De Santiago - Azofra To Grañon

I left Azofra for the next destination along the Camino.  All drugged up I walked well.  The Ibuprofen was working fine but despite that I knew this couldn't go on.  I decided during today's walk that I would take two whole days off once I got to Burgos, three days down the Camino, to allow my ankle to heal.

I arrived to the town of Cirueña.  I stopped and took a picture of my boots - I just had the thought as I was walking along how all the pilgrim's shoes were all the same color - Camino dust brown.

The Camino passed an empty golf course and rows of brand new, and empty, apartments/condos.  By the sorry state of the landscaping and the windows there was no one living there.  A ghost town created by the wonky world economy.  I passed several half built ... and abandoned ... homes along the Camino.

At a corner was a small park sitting area with some plaque if I remember right.  To my surprise, GV, LO, and NV were all there taking a break.  I was surprised as GV was a late riser and she was invariable behind me - that is, until today.  LO had been battling foot problems and was not doing well this leg.  We all agreed to stop in Santo Domigo de la Calzada (Saint Dominic of the Road).

After sitting with them and snacking, I got up and hobbled along the Camino.  Your feet tend to numb up after you walk awhile.  If you stop to rest the numbness goes away.  Restarting means you have to regain the numbness.  GV said I was limping pretty bad when I left them in Cirueña but I was fine by the time I got to Santo Domingo de la Calzada.

The albergue was still closed for cleaning so we stopped at a bar and got some brunch (I had a piece of Tortilla Española, bread, and a glass of fresh squeezed orange juice).  After sitting for a while we all looked at each other and decided that we still had some walking in us so we decided to move on to Grañon, 4 miles (6.5 km) farther ahead.  LO, who didn't want to miss NV's birthday, decided to take the bus to allow her feet to rest.

The walk to Grañon was hot.  To make it worse the Camino takes you in a circuitous route that adds distance to the walk.  To make it even worse, you could see Grañon in the distance as you walked this circuitous route. The sad part was there was a shorter way to get there but most of the pilgrim's dutifully followed the yellow arrows around the longer way.

The Grañon albergue was in the old restored Church of Saint John the Baptist.  The church had been restored fourteen years earlier and is run by volunteers who work there for one or two weeks at a time.  I walked up some narrow and worn stone stairs to a great room with a fireplace, a piano, and SZ.  SZ?!?  Turns out one of the hospitaleros was sick and SZ had volunteered to help for a couple days.

The albergue consisted of a great room connected to a small kitchen.  Over the great room was a loft full of sleeping pads.  From the sleeping loft you could climb stairs to the laundry area.  Farther up the narrow stairs and you reached the bell tower where you had great views of the town but had to be careful as the bells were rung on the hour.

After I signed in and did my chores everyone started showing up.  LO, NV, HT, GV, KT, JN, ST, SP, GU, LS, and CL (and friend).  I also met  RT (Germany) and MR (Brazil, she had also volunteered at the albergue). As I looked around the albergue HT introduced me to RN (Omaha!!!).  The gang was getting bigger.  I went down to the great room and SZ shoved a plate of leftover pasta in front of me which I devoured heartily.

That afternoon SP, LO, and HT all took turns at the piano.  SP, the best pianist in the bunch also turned out to be an awesome classical guitarist.  As I sat there listening to the music and seeing the weary pilgrims resting I thought this was what I'd imagined the pilgrimage to be.  It made me smile and that moment made the 148 miles (238 km) I'd walked to get there worth it.  I realized there and then that it wasn't the walking that made the Camino so life changing, it was the people you met along the way.  This was the Camino.

The evening meal was a communal affair.  Folding tables were brought into the great room transforming it into a dining room for forty-five.  The remaining hospitalera, along with another volunteer who came up from Logroño, talked to the pilgrims, telling us of the history of the Grañon albergue, how it was all volunteer, how they had communal meals every night, and how they never turned any pilgrim away - once serving dinner to over ninety pilgrims at one sitting.  The multi-course meal was then served.

The meal had been prepared by the hospitaleros with help of the pilgrims.  We had a salad, a lentil stew, a fruit salad (prepare by a German lady who was missing her daughter's birthday - the fruit cup was made in her name), and the whole thing ended with a birthday cake/tort made by LO for NV's birthday.  Happy Birthday, or the national equivalent, was sung in English, Spanish, French, Italian, German, Dutch, Portuguese, and Korean.  The tort was delicious.  We all had a great time and I doubt NV will forget that birthday any time soon.

That night I had a restless sleep as I had no pillow and the mats were hard.  I'd been worried that HT was sleeping next to me.  I could have sworn that he had snored loudly in Estella, something he vehemently denied   It turns out he did not snore in Grañon ... though I might have. *sigh*

Day ten was, except for the sleeping, near perfect.  This is what I'd signed up for ... sadly, by my own stupid actions, it would not continue.

Total Distance: 14.06 Miles (22.63 km)
Total Time: 4 hours 58 minutes
Total Elevation Up: 2,449 ft (746.46 m)
Total Elevation Down: 1,743 ft (531.27 m)

[Click on map for a larger version]


  1. Why wouldn't it happen again? What did you do? IT sounds so perfect...Excepting your poor feet!

  2. Miss McC: It was perfect ... and you'll have to wait til Thursday to find out.