I have completed my walk today to Santo Domingo, a walk of 12.8 miles. Other than one long and uphill test the only thing that makes it difficult is the heat.The last few miles the sun is blazing and there is no shade so you can’t get way from it. I’m drinking water at a faster pace than I have on the other previous hot days. I’m covered in dust as more and more of the farmers are ramping up activity to prepare for the harvesting of the grapes. The result is that all of the giant pieces of John Deer equipment are creating huge dust clouds and as much I want to avoid them I can’t. I will be covered in dust so I just need to get over it.
I did not see many pilgrims today, perhaps because they left earlier in an effort to walk in the early morning cooler temperatures. Sure, why not, that makes sense. I had my first equipment failure today. One of my poles broke at the bottom and the entire locking mechanism is gone. I will replace the poles in Santo Domingo.
I can’t explain it but when you walk alone for hours and hours there are things that just pop in and out of your head for no reason at all. Here is one … I was focused on the fact that today will be my tenth consecutive day of walking on the Camino and happy that thus far I am holding up physically. I play a little golf and on occasion there will be an event which will require two or three consecutive days of golf. As exhausting as that sounds even when driving in a golf cart from shot to shot, with the drink cup holder full and a rest stop at least once every nine holes, I cannot tell you how many times I’ve heard much younger guys than me make the comment about not being able to play more than three days in a row. I only mention it as a statement that we all get caught up in our own comfort zones. I have 24 more consecutive days of walking for another 400 miles with a backpack and no cart … I can’t wait to face the challenge of playing golf in a cart for three consecutive days with the option of stopping for a hotdog after the first nine exhausting holes of golf. Oh yea and then at the end there’s that really difficult get a drink in the men’s grill part of the over the top physically challenging part of the ordeal. I warned you about what goes through your mind when there are no distractions.
My accommodation is at the converted Convent of the Sisters of the Poor. I have the room prepaid but given the heat, the size of the room and a lack of any ventilation I may try to up-grade at the Paradore . The window in the Convent room is about two feet long and a foot wide. The room is as small as any room on the Camino. Given the lack of sleep I got in Najera I don’t think I can handle another night like that. I’m heading for the Paradore.
The Paradore has a room available so I’m in. It’s air conditioned! I check in and deal with the laundry and then clean up. I am hungry but it’s too early to eat because nothing is open until much later. I will just wait and eat at the Paradore. Before dinner I will make my way to the Camino shop around the corner to replace my poles. I also need a pair of socks because the socks I had on today are covered in some kind of plant which I cannot get out and there is no way to walk in socks that have itchy plants attached.
As I am on my way I walk past two people sitting at an outdoor table having a drink and the guy calls me and asks are you from California? It’s the couple that checked in late the night before in Najera. They invite me to join them. I order a drink and it turns out that it’s Eric and his daughter Emma from Los Angeles. Emma has just completed some of her studies in Dublin and has joined her father on the Camino before heading back to UCLA where she will start her junior year. Eric is in the entertainment business, film and TV. They walked a part of the Camino last year from Leon so this is another piece which will be from St. Jean to Burgos. Really nice people.
Soon after, this giant of a person stops by to say hello to Eric and Emma. He is a very large person. He is from Brazil and he is with a friend also from Brazil … he is less than half the size of the giant. I’m introduced but I don’t catch either of their names and I don’t want to ask the giant to speak any louder. It’s not his volume, I just didn’t understand him. I have given them names today while walking here to Belorado. The giant will be called Rambo and his sidekick will be called Tiny. Believe me the names fit. They are going on to Santiago and occasionally sleep in a tent and bathe in the rivers. I do everything I can to avoid any conversation about having a room at the Paradore.
Next comes Jeff a retired school teacher from Hartford Connecticut who is walking only to Burgos as well and then he is off to Italy. We share tidbits about how bad the pizza is on the Camino and then reminisces about all of the great pizza in the Capital of Great Pizza … New haven, Connecticut. A debate breaks out about why the pizza is so good there and so bad every where else. Conclusion … it’s the water.
Next up meet Juan. He is a young guy from New York who is studying to be a CPA. Apparently a few days ago it did not look like Juan could continue. The reason? He’s carrying a 40 pound backpack and has not done much training. His goal is to get to Burgos and then return next year to walk the balance of the Camino with his mother who last year walked the Camino to Burgos. Get it? Juan is with this cute and tiny German girl who has apparently given him the motivation to continue. He understands that his backpack is ridiculously over weight. The standard recommendation is that the backpack be no heavier than 10% of your body weight. I don’t think Juan weighs anywhere near 400 pounds so I only hope that he bones up on the percentage part of the CPA exam.
One more new comer who lives just south of where we are in Southern California. He lives in or close to Del Mar but I did not get to talk with him before he left for dinner. I hope to see him at some point between here and Santiago. So with that I’m heading back to the Camino shop and then to dinner. Good night, Buen Camino.
Day 10 data:
Miles today 13.4
Steps today 35,411
Total miles to date: 127.0
Total steps to date: 358,337
Total flights: 510
Total donations to date: $30,640.40