Thursday, July 30, 2009


(I hope the number is right.)
Last evening the pain in my legs and ankles was really great, and I don´t mean I enjoyed it! After the evening meal it was all I could do to get back to the hotel and up the few stairs to the lift. I had a bath in the smallest bath it is possible to imagine and that must have done some good, along with Voltaren. This morning they were sore but bearable and so I started walking. 7:45 and it was already 18 degrees without the sun up. Naturally, it got hotter and hotter but I arrived in good order and condition at Villafranca del Bierzo soon after 12. At 4:30 the electric sign said the temp was 41 (and then 39 a minute later!) Whatever, it´s HOT! Last time the temp gradually increased until we had the heatwave conditions of 26 in Compostela. Today is very humid as well, which doesn´t help, and there is practically no breeze. I´ve now "lost" 5 or 6 days so it was a great surprise to meet today, two NZers and an Irish woman who left SJPP only the day after me. It´s not only I who have problems. It will be good to chat with them over dinner as I have been my own not too cheerful companion the last two evenings.
There are two Albergues (Al BAIR gay) here. The older is a private concern best described as quaint, or an experience. Well, having had the experience last time, I am in great hurry to repeat it. The newer municipal albergue seems really nice with plenty of room, a kitchen and very large dining room. And it has plenty of hot water for showers.
Last time, Claude saw me coming up the hill and said that I should go to the Jato´s place as it was closer to the real Camino experience. Being highly suggestible I went with him, booked in, then looked for him and his friend. NOT THERE: They´d turned tail and run to the MA. That, my firends, is the only time I was cross with Claude! not that he knew.
There is a 12th century church here with a Door of Pardon. If a pilgrim really could go no further (and remember, you had to walk home anyway) you could make confession, take part in the mass, receive your Compostela, and go home. The Door is very famous and fancy with carvings that are getting very worn. I took photos last time and studied them hard to find that the stones were not all in the right places! Some earlier "crasftsman" obviously had very little experience with keeping good notes, or solving puzzles. Anyway, the good news is that the whole doorway is being restored. I sincerely hope they don´t stick the stones back in the order they are currently!
Soon after Pamplona there was a monastery called Alto del Perdun (not sure of spelling) where sick pilgrims could call it a day. It is just before a rocky and steepish descent which still claims many a tendon.
Villafranca seems much more prosperous than in 2000. There is hardly an empty shop, much construction/restoration work is taking place, and (this is the clincher) they are developing their central town gardens with mown grass (rare in north Spain), gentle paths, hedges, and new plane trees. I feel that the level of a community´s pride in itself is often shown in its parks and gardens, and the sorry state of Camberwell´s, especially Fordham Gardens near our place, tells me a lot.
Tomorrow will will really know we´re alive with the start of the steeper bits. It is here the road plunges through its first mountain. I´m not sure yet whether I will take 1 or 2 days to get to O Cebreiro, the second highest and steepest part of the camino.
Whatever, here´s John signing off in good spirits!
God bless you all

Monday, July 27, 2009


I am in Rabanal, staying at the English Albergue. They are 4 charming and gentle people (one German) and they really make an effort to help people and make them feel at home. There is a warm sitting room and a small library with some books in English.
Unfortunately, yesterday when I was congratulating myself on getting a bottom bunk and a warm shower I slipped and crashed messily, noisily and painfully to the floor. Today there is a large purple bruise on my right hip and technicolour tints and tones on the middle toe of the right foot. Hence the second day here. I have had/am having a real rest with two church services (prayer and mass) and my foot up most of the day. The swelling is going down, the foot is less painful, but it still cannot fit inside the boot. Maybe tomorrow. I hope to walk tomorrow, if only for 10 km, and if necessary in boot and sandal. I bought the book About a Boy and am half way through it. It is better than the film!
Yesterday started with neither breeze nor sun though occasionally I cast a weak shadow. As we climbed it got colder and the breeze became a strongish headwind but despite a few steep sections the climb was quite gentle. All was well until the slip. I dined with Glee (surname Balmer pronounced as if batmer) and two others, one, Petra, has invited me to Germany to stay for a while. It´s a genuine offer and I may very well take it up. To visit Germany would be good and she lives 20 minutes from Nurnberg.
Today the hospitalleros have made a real effort to make me feel welcome and special, inviting me to breakfast and lunch. I greatly appreciate it. A number of years ago a German monastery established an outpost here with 2 young Spaniards. They speak German, Spanish, and English and spend busy lives following the canonical hours, acting as priests for the district, running 2 and 3 day courses and retreats. There are two churches here, the one next to the albergue and monastery being a 12th c Templar foundation and the other is 18th c, recently renovated and quite amazingly gifted for such a small community.
This second church is used for special occasions. The other is partially restored but much more needs to be done. Last evening for vespers here were as many locals as pilgrims, with the small chapel´s seats all filled. It is lovely to see this dedicated Christian work and outreach making an impact both locvally and with the pilgers.
If I can´t walk tomorrow I may very well spend a couple of days with them. They interview applicants and if accepted, design a course of prayer and contemplation (I guess - it won´t be the form guide of tapestry making) for that person.
I do feel well and am quite buoyant. This is just a setback, and not a major one.
Pray for my foot, please!
All the best

Friday, July 24, 2009


Last evening I was walking in sandals and looking at the feet. Each step, the second toe of the right foot sweeps across to the right and bangs into the third toe. This is an arc of around 30 degrees! Today after walking for 14 km I had the brainwave of anchoring loosely the offending toe to the large toe with tape. Sure´nuff, it worked! Got to Astorga in good time having had two breaks. The second was for lunch with 3km to go. Bocadillo con jamon y queso. He charged 4€ which is high, but it was huge! I left one third of the bread and ate all the filling.
Walked the last bit with an Austrian woman (name?) and just loved coming up to the base of the wall with the Roman remains there including the marble worn by wheeled vehicles. We´re in a new albergue for 6€ and though I have a top bunk at least there are plenty of showers, very hot water, and lots of toilets.
At the weekend I believe there will be a jousting tournament in Hospital de Orbigo. As I passed this morning over the 13th century bridge workmen were preparing the lists and erecting stands. Apparentlysome knight was jilted so took the unusual step of issuing a challenge to all the knights of Europe. They had to fight him to cross the bridge. After 300 fights all of which he won, he removed the talisman of rejection (?) and went to Compostela. (I´ve also been told the same story about Rabanal....) Would be fun to go. (I´ve just heard that it is in early June. I should have finished the walk by then, so you never know!)
Astorga is a lovely place and the Bishop´s palace by Gaudi is an absolute highlight. I went into the cathedral museum which was little changed from 2000 except that they issued a brief guide in English. But then, there was a fabulous exhibition that extended into the cathedral which was closed for services for three months. Today I got to see the cathedral. It is true Gothic with plateresque main entrance and the usual 18th c gold and statues froth an bubble. But the shape, and the style, the height, the size of the columns! It is truly magnificent but in a simpler and less expensive style than Leon or Burgos. The centre of the church has an enclosed choir of magnificently carved timber stalls in two levels, above which is an outstanding organ with a large rank of Spanish trumpets (they stick out at right angles and are arranged in a curve with the longest pipes at the outside.) I would ove to have taken a few photos but I would have needed a tripod. There is a fine paleoChristian marble sarcophagus in the museum and I took the risk and photographed that. 310 AD! and still in fine condition.
Ate out with Jeanette and Lorna from Canada. They start walking slowly at 6am each day and have always managed to get beds. Tomorrow they are aiming to walk about 26 km but I want to stop at Rabanal for two reasons: there is a small group of monks at the church and the sing the evening service, and one of the albergues is run by the Confraternity of Saint James in England and all the hospitallers speak English. That will be a change. I was annoyed with the hospitallero today. I asked for a lower bunk and he said no, that they were allocated acording to order of arrival. An hour later he opened another room and the first peopl in got the bunk beds. Really he was just making it easy for himself. At 6€ each he´s minting it. He could have helped out an old bloke.

gotta go

Monday, July 20, 2009


At 8am when forced to leave the albergue while they cleaned up, it was 2 degrees Celsius but the sun was just up. I wandered up to the cathedral and the light was wonderful so got some good photos inside and out. Then the Information Office supplied info and a map and I went to the post office (Correos) to send some cards written a week ago!
San Isidoro museum is even better than before. The basilica was very dark as these places usually are but again got some good shots, especially of the chequeboard pattern noted on Romanico churches by you, Manfred. ALSO of a capital with beasts. In the museum I looked through the window and saw a guy snapping away and thought - if he can do it, so can I - and took several pics without flash and using time exposure. Vault frescoes were the main things, and a carved stone box. Then took more in the cloisters. On the way to the upstairs, a very charming lady asked me had I been taking pics. Oops. Well yes, I said, but sin flash. Only in the cloister she said. But she let me go and after I´d been in the library with absolutely wonderful and priceless stuff back to the 10th century asked me if I´d taken any more! She was very nice (and no, I hadn´t). The metal, ivory, and woodwork is amazing, and again back to the 10th century. Interesting for a militantly Christian institution (San Isidoro was a be baptised or die you Moorish swine, sort of guy) they had a Viking bone(?) carving of a god. Then found a great street - Calle La Rua (Street the Street!) very narrow and lined with wonderful shops. One was a sports store and I bought another mug (I left behind the one I pinched from a refuge to replace the one I´d left behind elsewhere. Got that?), an immersion heater, and a waterproof cover for the sac. ALSO an Opinel knife that locks the blade in place. The el cheapo I bought a few days ago does not lock, and opened in my pocket. Potential ouch big time. So for lunch had a hot drink abd carved bread like the French. It´s amazing how much one misses a hot drink when it is unavailable.
A whole bunch of people whom I had met in Burgos or before arrived today, including the two American girls. They are more relaxed and right into the pilgrimage, so much so that instead of quitting here, they are moving on. It´s really good to see positive change. I dined a few nights ago with Maureen, a Canadian. Yesterday her sister and friend arrived. Maureen has moved on. Tonight Lorna and the friend and I will dine. It´s all good.
Well, all good except for a very chesty cough which I deliver burblingly but fortunately not too often. Just hope it gets better and not worse. One of my you beaut socks from Oz has a hole in it, above the smallest toe of the right foot. Interesting. I´ll get new socks, but why did it happen? The rest has been very good. I´ll try to walk 24 km tomorrow and the day after, which will see me in Astorga. After that, 30km of uphill (but not in one day). Sigh.
All the best
John W

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


Was most unhappy with albergue yesterday. First, it wasn´t the offical albergue but a recent private addition. Then, they charged 7€ instead of the 3€ or so of the official one. There was no sitting room, no kitchen, and no hot water. I complained about this and the hospitalliera disappeared and pressed a button to start the HW going. For some reason the 7 or so people before said nothing. Still, I would think it was the H´s job to ensure that all was well. The floors and sheets were dirty. There were two bathrooms for up to 21 people. It was cold and getting colder so I asked for the calefaccion, and she said NO. Apparently she was not subsidised and we should be grateful for a roof over our heads. Indeed, she was doing it only for the good ogf humanity. I will convey this information to the Confraternity of S James, and they will put a negative against the place in the next book.
It was fiesta, I think I said and when I arrived and for a few hours thereafter it was silent in the streets. Then around 6 there was a street theatre/entertainment, mainly for kids. By the time we came from the evening meal, people were on the move. It really is a charming thing to see Spanish families out in the evening. You hardly ever hear a cross word, the kids are happy and smiling. It being around 9.15 I headed for bed so as not to disturb to badly the young French woman sharing my room. (She chose a top bunk!) She is an editor whatever for the Spanish edition of Elle, and we had a couple of good chats. She was walking 30 - 40 km daily.
The fiesta got under way with a disco and assorted noise making activites. They really got loud around 2am and by 4 we had the hoons screaming up and down the street revving their engines and shining lights in windows. by 4.15 it was pretty quiet. Memo - if at all possible, avoid staying in fiestaville. This morning I was the third last from our albergue. Two others were upstairs sleeping after the time of evacuation! Tut Tut.
8.15 I left and walked without a sitting break, making the 17/18 km in just under 4 hours. It drizzled then rained then drizzled again for the entire walk, and has been the same ever since. People have wet clothes everywhere, are standing by heaters willing them dry. My wet weather gear worked very well, and no water entered my shoes. Despite all the gear being impermeable and transpirable and youbeaut, I got super hot, and this on a cold day. A layer of moisture was trapped inside the poncho, but really I was very pleased to have got through.
I had a shower with really hot water! No washing of clothes, thopugh. Tomorrow is Leon, and I will stay in a hotel, get my washing done and my toes looked at. Maybe I´ll stay two days.
The Leon Govt about 7 years ago made a fine track from Sahagun to Leon, and lined it with plane (plantana) trees. Of the thousands, most are dead or hairy spindles. Where the road dips from the meseta into arroyos (wide river valleys, often with no visible river - one is called Rio Seco, and seco means dry) the trees and crops are incredible. The wheat I passed on the meseta was barely shin high. In the arroyos two crops were higher than my waste, and this is only mid-spring. Trees have been planted along the water courses as well so it is a wonderful change from the barrenness and wind (and dust and heat) to be looking at and benefiting from the shade of these magnificent trees.
I have a q behind me waiting for the internet so I´ll have to go. Am now well past the halfway mark.

Friday, July 10, 2009


Ate with Richard, a retired NY lawyer and Steve, a doctor from Montana. Enjoyable conversation. Both of themm are on bikes and had lots of questions regarding relationships - how do we get on week after week with people? Well, the truth is, over the weeks most people spread out. I have lost physical touch with everyone I started with. Some hang together. I met a Hungarian girl and a US investment banker who have been travelling together. Perhaps I need to shower more.
Felt a bit light headed this morning as I woke around 1 and was still awake at 3.30. The SApaniard above me thought it a fine idea to ring his mate just before lights out, too, which didn´t help. Most pilgrims are now in bed by 9, so to conduct a normal voice conversation with hearty laughter an hour after that is thoughtlewss, to say the least. One young German boy biking with his father had the diarroheoa and vomiting last night so they won´t be going anywhere today. Made it quite easily to El Burgo Ranero today but a bit late. First, I could not balance my sac. So I walked to Calzado del Coto, found a table and completely repacked. It was still unbalanced and I realised the harnes links on the right side were twisted over the belt. Untwisted, it was fine. Then I realised I was way off track and had to go back. It is badly marked at new work and I was able rescue three others. Then on to Bercianos del Real Camino. I stayed here last time and was disappointed to find the church spire had fallen in a muddy mess. It has not been repaired. There is a 17th century ermita just 1km out of town and the townsfolk may use that. It was open today as we passed. There also appeared to be a new steel bell tower in a different part of town so they may have rebuilt there. One stange thing to me about Spain is how so many buildings just fall into ruins and are abandoned. It lends a down at heel, mournful look to the places.
Anyway that meant I was later ariving at El Burgo ranero and missed on a place in the municipal albergue. The one I´m in is cold and had cold water (the the hospitallera says she has fixed that) and cost 7€. I really object to that.´There is no kitchen, no sitting room, and we are supposed to rejoice that there is a place for us! If I weren´t so lazy I´d have packed up and gone to the pub for 30€, but I´d have to pack again. Grumble grumble. AND there are only two bathrooms for up to 20 people (though fewer than 10 are there today).
I could hear distant bangs and then saw puffs of smoke in the air. It fiesta day! Whoopee. By the time I arrived about half an hout later the locals had all retired for siesta, no doubt worn out by the excitement. There is a small shop which opened at 5pm so I have bought stuff for breakfast. Tomorrow´s stage to Mansilla de las Mulas is also shorter, around 19km si I´ll try to get away a bit earlier, and not get sidetracked.
An Englishwoman has invited me to an Anglophone table so I´m looking forward to that. Sorry for the grumbles. I´m still a bit drowsy from my arvo snooze.
All the best to you all

Monday, July 6, 2009


Carrion´s preist excelled himself at the pilgrim´s mass and benediction thereasfter. Most of the participants were locals, which is a sign of a good minstry. Around 25 pilgrims crowded into the sactristy for the benediction which went on for about 15 mins followed by a brief tour of the church.
I was with Season (yes, her name) and I had shared a very nice salad with her and her friend Dennis. They are both from Seattle, are 22, and we had a fine time. Season thought it was an excellent service. She is interesting in that her parents had raised her to be a Christian, but non-denominational. She aspires to be an actress. As she sat in church I realised she had been trained in the Alexander technique, but she was most surprised when I mentioned the fact. She thought her teacher would be pleased.
Feet felt terrible as I walked today, so much so I was determined not to stop in case I could not get going again. And thinking hard, ¨listening¨ to my feet, I think I may have discovered the problem. The main boots had given me some but not really much trouble in France and for the beginning of the walk, so there has been a change, and it had to be with the feet not the boots. As I walk, each step, the orthotics push my toes forward, but the small toes are permanently bent, so they are forced downwards, the tips hitting the surface. Hmmm. I will consult a guy in Leon in a few days.
There must be a solution.
The albergue in Calzadilla is owned by the guy who owns the hotel/bar/restaurant. There is no shop, and no kitchen at the albergue. He charges 7€ to stay, the menu peregrino is 8€ and any drinks, nibbles, breakfast you must go to him. Fair enough, but 7€ to stay in unheated conditions with sitting room only for two or three is very expensive. I dined with a 35 yo American, Nicholas, who works for the Smithsonian Institute in Philadelphia. He assures me his is not an exhibit, but rather organises them. He is walking a good deal faster than me so we´ll probably never meet again. He was most interested in pilgrim etiquette and so forth.
He packed his bag the night before, slept in his clothes and was gone (silently) before 5. We had a fine time.
I walked the 22km to Sahagun today. It was painful but not excessively so. As it is Saturday there are no pilgrim health servcies. I´ve been the the farmacia a few times and got tissues (my nose is running like a tap in the cold wind, but it isn´t a cold (I hope), and some tea/infusion stuff to help me ¨go¨naturally. I had another unnatural episode today and a 17th C ruin became my emergency toilet. It is so hard here to get enough fibre. I went to a fair sized supermercado today but they had no oats or bran on sale. The guy said I may be able to get it in Leon. Imagine if somebody in Ballarat had to go to Geelong for bran and oats ...
Refuge here seems OK. It is in a huge old church that had lost its roof a long time ago, and was redeveloped in 1999. The kitchen is grossly inadequate for the numbers so I will dine with Richard, a retired lawyer from New Jersey. Most pilgrims go to bed at 9 with lights out at 10, but the two local restaurants open at 8 and 8:30. Makes it really difficult.
When I was choosing socks this arvo after a shower I realised I have lost (left behind somewhere) one excelent pair. Down to three now, though I have adequate liners. To help the toe thingo, I´ve stuck bandaids on the orthotics which I hope will stop the tendency of the little toes to move forward and down. Let´s hope.
God be with you all.

Thursday, July 2, 2009


Not sure I´ll cover all the ground - it´s been a bit hectic I last wrote from the Casa de Cultura in Fromista. This is set up by the local council to keep kids and old folks off the streets, i think. But they have a room with 10 PCs, half in use by a shrieking, brawling but all in good fun group of hormone-high teens. It is FREE! WooHOO! (right now I am paying at the rate of 3€ per hour. Not bad, but not free!)
Anyway, I stayed in a hotel in Fromista because I got saturated but was able to dry it all including the bag, as the air is so dry here. My boots did not entirely dry. They are my reserve boots that are not waterproof. Still and all, the 30km walked that day was another JW record. Ate with Manfred Epp again. He is a most interesting guy, fluent in 5 languages and with a deep interest in culture and its physical and social manifestations on the Camino as well as elsewhere. He´s the sort of person who is the centre of attention wherever he goes and people just open up to him. He explained that Gabriella was sick (half the Italian couple I was getting on so well with despite language gulf) and they had gone back to Burgos for her to recover.) She is a great person but just hasn´t got her head around the camino. There´s so much !"·$%$·"! that happens to you it´s easy to become negative instead of just shrugging your shoulders and getting on with life. G is always complaining. Manfred said that the day we were walking through fields and mountainsides of Erica, a purplish flowering bush, he was exclaiming over it and taking lots of photos to get just the one special shot, G was complaining about the road, how dusty it was and straight; so boring, whinge whinge. He really thinks she is sick because she has not come to grips with the whole thing. Giovanni wants to continue so I hope they do. I had a great sleep in such a quiet place I didn´t wake until 7.40. A good thing for my
body, but it put me behind.
To walk to Carrion de los Condes I wore my waterproof boots and started out in fine style, averaging 6km per hour for a while. But my little toe started to hurt again nd eventually at Villalcazar (Bill-yal-CAH-thar) I was forced to put on the wet ones. Jesus talks about the rudder of a ship, how small it is yet can steer a great ship, before saying how small the tongue is, yet it can control u. Well, the little toe is smaller again yet, believe me it can control this whole walk. I barely hobbled into Carrion, so late there was only one place left. But I had already made up my mind to return to Burgos. The priest is fantastic. He speaks English, which helps a lot! When he knew I was busing to Burgos he insisted on taking me to the Bar EspaƱa so he could explain what I wanted. On the way we met an Aussie couple looking for accommodation so he arranged to walk them to a convent where they would be looked after. Later I introduced him to a frantic French couple, and he walked them to the convent too. I went into the church and took a couple of photos to enhance those i took 5 yrs ago when a cleaner approached told me No Photos! several times. I will pay, I say. Phots No! she replies. Today when I spoke to him I explained how if he were to charge people 3€, and insist on no flash, most people wouldn´t bother and may buy a postcard or three. But the photo hobbyists like me would be happy to pay, and this would be helpful to the parish. He listened most intently and said he had seen the same thing in England and would pursue the matter. Altogether, a most satisfactory priest.
5 yrs ago I saw little of Carrion b/c it rained all day. Guess what. Yep, Rained from the time we arrived. Met Manfred and had a chat. we will separate as he wishes to go to Oviedo as part of his monastery crawl but as he will will spend several days over that, it is possible we will meet again. The bus came almost on time and we set off. It took just over 1.5 hrs to get there and I had to find accommodation in a hurry. The local albergue was full as well as the two pensions I tried. The single star hotel charged 40€ but I had to take it. I put the bag in the room and went as fast as possibel (aching toe, remember) to the statue of El Cid where a free bus was to take me to Hipercor, a mini Chadstone where there is a Decathlon store.
Waited half an hour for the wretched bus before taking a taxi the 3 km. Normally no problem, but out of the question then. I´d made up my mind to get some new boots. Found an assistant who spoke English and away we went. Her English went pretty quickly too, but we got on OK. They had boots that were long enough, but not as wide as the bad ones I have, so no sale. Instead, i bought some more waterproofing and sprayed the boots in the morning. Looks OK, and I´ll spray them again in an hour or so. A lomg trip and expensive night, but at least I´m happier in my mind about it all.
The toes have settled well today. The others in my expensive hotel thought they had to play TV and talk loudly until 2am, and (I presume others) get up loudly at 6, grumble. My bus left at 10.45 so I wandered through the streets (raining again) and had some breakfast. Met some Canadians who were going to Leon for a few days R&R. She has a tummy bug. Bus left 15 mins late. Nobody apart from me seemed surprised. Getting off at Carrion, there was Manfred and and American woman I´d met the day before about to get on. M gave me a warm hug! If we don´t meet again, there´s always e-mail. Anyway, the albuergue was full by 1pm. It´s a real problem. Do I join the maddening rush to beat everyone else? If I don´t, how can I afford the extra costs? thinking thinking.
I´ll eat in tonight with a young >US couple. I will make the salad, and they´ll bring meat and bread. Maybe we´ll rope in some more. You can´t buy two lettuce leaves!
Time to go. Tomorrow will walk again for about 20 km. The next stage is too long for one day.
All the best to you all


Kate tells me I did not tell the story of the Great Ripoff. Several years ago a recording company approached the monks of Silos monastery. They offered to record the monks in return for an amount of money- no royalties were mentioned. The double CD set is called Canto Gregoriano and is the most popular Gregorian chant recording available. Millions have been sold. The monks have learned their lesson at great cost.
I had an unfortunate and unnecessary dispute with the lady hotel keeper. I asked her when was the time to leave the hotel in the morning and she told me I had to be up at 6 and be gone by 7. This is what some pilgrims do, but no albergue insists on people vacating the premises until 8. I told her this but she insisted. Now she might have in the kindness of her heart telling me what I should do. As it is, it preyed on my mind and while I had a good sleep it would have been better.

R rated section
If you think the study of my bowels is too much information, skip to the next paragraph. The main reason I had gone to the Farmacia was I was constipated (which, by the way, in Spain means I had a blocked nose. The farmacist understood and gave me some pills, two to be taken at night for an easy discharge in the morning. Well, the body wanted to cooperate but it was no go. So in fear and trepidation, just nefore 8 I set out. At one point I pulled off the road and tried to go, but again, no result. So at the next village I made a beeline for the bar and its Aseos. As with many places this had the charming facility of the lights turning off after a set (short) time. Inside, there were no windows and it was completely dark. In this situation I had some success and considerable difficulty in cleaning up. Anyway had a nice ensalata mixta, and set off. Nature called in a particularly siren way as a
copse of trees approached so I had the brilliant idea of sneaking in there. Wonder of wonders, I was not the first. There was toilet paper almost everywhere so I chose a suitable spot and was delivered of a 10 pound gorilla. Thank goodness.

Stopped for a meal of ensalata mixta and water to which was added some very nice bread. Ten as I set off, it started raining. Out came the poncho. It wasn´t for long and with the sun out we took the waterproofs off. Then after 15 minutes we got some drops and the temperature fell a bit. Waterproffs on just in time and I started blithely walking in the rain and into a wind. 2 minutes and my lower trousers were soaked and then my boots filled with runoff. Lasted for about 10 minutes. The folks I have been with for a while, Ulla and Johannes from Denmark (not related), John and his wife, Elissa and her parents and Sam all from Australia, and Bjorn (pronounced Yearn) from Denmark decided to stay at Boadilla but I knew that my pack would have leaked and so determined to press on to Fromista and stay in a hotel again.
I misunderstood a youjng guy who pointed and said I should wait a bit. I thought he was indicating a wonderfully cross, and that I should wait for sun to illuminate it better. So I set off and had done just a km when the temperature plunged and huge drops fell. I was walking on the flattest part of the whole Camino, beside the Grand Canal of Castille and the noise of water hitting water was deafening. I was soaked again and in short order wading in water inside the boots. These are the spare boots, because I can walk easily in them and they are neither waterproof nor very high. The others which i am wearing right now, really are squeezy. It´s a big problem. Do I abandon these boots, go back to Burgos and buy some more? The rain pelted for 4 km or so and I arrived at the hotel in some disarray.
I now have all my goods spread out around the room trying to dry them. And at last I´ve bought some big plastic bags to line the backpack. It is something I was going to get around to ...