“Where’s the boy? Have you lost him? Did you count one, two, three, four oh that’s enough!”
It was the Canary Islands family quizzing us outside a bar – a bar, which incidentally, we all remembered stopping at last time….and all of us thought it was very early on in the day – turned out to be after 12km walking!! We have found frequently that something we see reminds us that something else is coming up, and we think it is going to be soon, but there are often five or six kilometres of forgotten walking in between!!We finally reached the bar today and there were the canaries sitting outside eating toast with tomato. We went inside for hot drinks to warm up and when we emerged, they wanted to know about the boy. They were right – he wasn’t with us. He was still feeling energy-less this morning and so together we decided a 30+km day full of lots of ups and downs was not the best idea. And it seemed fortuitous that we should be in a town where he could catch a bus straight to the place we were heading to. So we found the bus timetable online and the bus stop in real life, and gave him his passport, some money, Rob’s phone, the cowbell and a bag of spare food (because he didn’t eat much yesterday we had leftovers!!)Knowing we had a long day ahead of us, we set off before dawn. Just four of us.
Last time we walked this there was thick fog and we saw next to nothing (and got a wee bit lost and had to backtrack). Today we had a perfectly clear day and enjoyed beautiful rural vistas stretching up to distant mountains. That and forests. With the occasional hamlet. That sums up the day. In and out of forests and dark and light playing games. Oh, and crunching through leaves – it was the first day the leaves were really crunchy.See the four of us there? No Micki. He, meanwhile, was on the bus, covering 40km in 44 minutes. As we walked I got to thinking about being the weakest link. It’s fine when you’re so weak you go by bus, but usually I’m the weakest one. And I’m walking. Going uphill I’m last. Going downhill I’m more cautious than everyone else (which also translates as “slower”). On the flat I’m usually trying to catch up. For a few kilometers today I decided to stick with the group no matter what and with my poles going in time with my legs I felt like the Energizer Bunny. It was nice to not be holding anyone back, but I know I can’t sprint all the time! This all led to me thinking about how different it is to be walking with others rather than on my own. Expectations vary.
Quiet or music.
Quiet or chatter.
Take a break or it’s too cold to stop.
Take a break or let’s push on to the top of the hill first.
Not caring about time taken or noticing how slow the latest kilometre was.
Wanting to stop to admire the view or watching as you walk.
Eating as you walk or taking a break to sit down.
Walking together means give and take.The youngest is usually in front. So she gets to take breaks on mojons while the rest of us catch up. Micki and Tessa often walk behind, but if they fancy, they can put on a burst of speed that sees them overtake everyone in a very short space of time. I never fancy, so I’ve never tried it, but I doubt I’d have the ability even if I wanted to!! Towards the top of the last climb today Rob (who had just powered up the hill while the rest of us plodded steadily) nonchalantly mentioned he felt so good that if he could drop his backpack he could happily run ten kilometers (he’d already walked close to 30 at this stage). This provided Tessa with the opportunity to prove what I had just been contemplating (namely what I have just written – that if she felt so inclined she could run). And she did.
In fact, Rob (not knowing I was thinking about writing about this on the blog) took a video of her doing exactly that. But in the end that was not the exciting thing about the video. It just so happened that as he was filming, a fox ran onto the path, took fright and retreated into the brush. If you know it’s there, you can see it at the beginning of the video;-) National Geographic videographers sit for hours waiting for that kind of opportunity!placeholder://That excitement put a spring in everyone’s step for a few kilometers, but it must be said that the last three or four seemed to take forever!However, we finally arrived, having walked 10km farther than the Hospitales Day and having climbed only a tiny bit less (but steeper).
It’s fascinating that when we walked up to town to buy food for dinner later we did another three km but it didn’t feel like anything!
Primitivo Day 9
Distance: 33.5 + 3.2 (205.8km)
Elevation gain: 924m (5996m)
Temperature: 9-19 deg (it’s forecast to snow in the town we left this morning – on Sunday!)
Other pilgrims: the Canaries, a huge bunch of Spaniards, a whole lot more new French (including one lady)…..the friendly Canadians who we had a lovely chat with last night (and incidentally one of them turned out to be the same racial heritage as Rob and had so many things in common it was uncanny) couldn’t contemplate doing such a long day so we left them behind. Funnily, one of them popped out of a pharmacy this morning just as Micaiah was standing at the bus stop.
“Are you doing the same thing as us, getting breakfast?” he asked, about to head into the bakery with his companions.
“No, I’m catching the bus.”
“Yep, it should be stopping here.”
He was surprised that Micki should be travelling alone – but we had evaluated the risks (next to nothing), and M was not actually sick, just lacking energy, so he was not about to collapse or anything! It was good for him.