The 1,000km day. What was it going to be like?
If I were writing the script I would not have made it so perfect – it was an unbelievable day of wonder and miracles.
It was also a day of reminiscing over this journey so far. So many things happened that reminded us of something earlier on in the walk. From the cuckoo call that accompanied us up a hill to the cowbells. From the misty start to the hot belting afternoon sun. The early morning long wet grass, the stony paths, and rocky ones too…the dust…the wide expansive views…seeing the path wind up ahead…carrying a heavy bag loaded with food and three litres of water…having people stop us to take our photo…seeing animals with their babies (in today’s case, horses and cows, and a rabbit that ran straight towards us for a good twenty metres before realising we were standing there watching it)…tadpoles in a stream…watching big black birds soar on thermals (only today they were below us instead of high above)…wind turbines…lunch of baguette, chorizo, cheese, olives and chocolate….We have been caught by surprise a number of times on this journey and today was no exception. We went to open the container of peppers high on a hillside for lunch – only to discover this particular brand did not come in a plastic bag inside the cardboard box, but a metal tin without a pulltab and so I carried them all day. When we walked with not a soul in sight, we were reminded of the solitary on the early routes. When we found ourselves walking with others and catching up with camino friends we were reminded of the social nature of the Camino Frances. We remembered the windy days, only today was the strongest we have ever experienced – on one ridge I really wondered if we would be blown right off and we stayed close together as if that would somehow provide protection (the adrenaline of that half hour is done no justice in a one sentence summary). We remembered Ella-Rose tumbling down a hill a week ago when she fell flat on her face on today’s steep descent.
The kids laughed about me standing in the mud puddle back in a cow paddock over a month ago when I submerged my shoe again today. We remembered the many icecreams we have eaten when we chanced across a bar with some at the 999.8km mark. Of course, we ate.
We had decided to take a photo wherever we were when Mrs Strava told us we had made it. We just happened to be barely ten metres from a camino marker:
The plan had been to upload to Facebook immediately (this mama is getting quite technologically advanced, you know), but there was “NO SERVICE”. So we climbed another hill and tried again. Success! We were not to know at that stage that there would be no further phone access until the following night, hence this post going up a day late!
Everyone felt like the day should be over, but we had to keep walking; we had to find a bed. Hopes for five of the only-twelve at the Berducedo Municipal Albergue were slim and chances were estimated to be one in a million. We were fully expecting to have to walk on a further 4.5km, but poked our noses in to see if maybe, just maybe…..four beds were free we were told. And all the others were taken by various members of “our Primitivo family”. We had arrived just in the nick of time. Not ten minutes after dropping our packs another couple appeared looking desperately for somewhere to sleep.
“It’s a miracle we got these beds,” one of the kids mentioned. Maybe it was – why they weren’t taken by the thirty or so people in front of us is at least quite remarkable.
“It’s a miracle Ella-Rose didn’t tumble further down the hill,” another added.
I do think they were right. I was a mere three metres above her (but might as well have been on Mars for all the help I could offer from that short but too-far-to-do-anything distance) when I saw her topple. She went down forwards, her head hit the ground and the momentum of her pack riding up her back pulled her legs from under her – she looked like she was about to flip over in a full somersault. Had she started, there would have been no stopping her. How she stopped I still can’t fathom; there is no doubt it was a miracle.
Then Alberto from Madrid, aka Mr Jingle Bells because he walks with four bells on his pack, observed, “It’s a miracle anyone made it today!”
Perhaps it wasn’t quite that supernatural, but certainly it was a good day’s walk.
Cumulative Distance: 1,003/703km