Today we crossed the 400 kilometer (250 mile) mark or halfway point of the Camino Frances. We are also halfway across the hot, dry and monotonous “Meseta” – but I don’t really see it that way. I see the seven to seventeen kilometer walks through hay fields between the small farm towns as peaceful strolls, especially if it includes watching the sun rise. However tomorrow morning will begin differently, especially for Sue.
The people we have met in the Meseta so far appear to be unpretentious workers of the earth who go into their fields during the week with their John Deere’s or Massey Ferguson’s and on the weekends they go into the fields with their dogs and shotguns. The language and GPS coordinates may be different but many other features make me feel like I am walking across the “Heartland” of America.
Today we ended in a typical small farm town. It had only one Alburgue that also housed the only bar/cafe in the town. After securing a bed and washing off the reddish-orange dust of the trail I took a walk around town. It was siesta time so a few dirt covered tractors sat idle outside a row of small, attached homes shod with weathered brown tile roofs. The walls of the homes were made of a mixture of mud, straw and stones. Some of the walls looked solid while many had large cracks and eroded patches a foot or two wide and two to three inches deep. I have seen some beautiful wood doors in my walk across Spain but in this hard life town many doors were worn raw of paint and hung in crumbling, cockeyed frames. But like every other town this one had a church perched on the highest point in the village.
Sue was nursing a few blisters and stomach troubles so she skipped dinner and was asleep by nine. At 1:45 AM she awoke with a strong desire to get to the bathroom pronto. She stood up and immediately became dizzy. As she slowly stumbled along in the dark, bumping into packs, boots and clothing lying on the floor she suddenly realized she couldn’t remember where the bathroom was. Fortunately her second choice of routes was correct but it required fumbling with a large door that took both hands and all her strength to open and resulted in a woman yelling at her in French for making too much noise.
Finally she arrived at her destination where she broke into a heavy sweat and became too dizzy to return to her bunk. She decided it was safer to spend the night sleeping on the floor of the toilet stall than risking passing out and cracking her head on the cement floor. A half hour passed before she realized that she had left her bag with all her valuables, i.e. wallet, passport, etc. at the base of that large door she struggled to open. She had no choice but to get up and stumble back to her bag. From that point her bed was closer than the bathroom floor and more appealing to sleep on so she hobbled onward and finally completed her trip more than an hour after it started. Sue was not going to be taking a peaceful stroll across the Meseta today.