Leaving Hontanas in the darkness of the morning was a magical experience, as the path was lit by the stars. They provided just enough light to keep me out of potholes and I switched off my torch. A clear sky, combined with a path that was sandy white, illuminated the way.
After the sun came up I ran into Brandi and gave voice to the thoughts I was having about calling it a day at Castrojeriz. It was not what I had intended when I set out that morning, but I was feeling pretty low; my throat hurt and I had very little energy. Truthfully, I had probably overdone it the day before. It was Sod’s Law really: any time I thought I got ahead, the following day I seemed to pay the price. The first café appeared on the outskirts of Castrojeriz and when I stopped, my decision not to walk any further that day had been made. So I enjoyed a large chocolate pastry and two cups of café con leche (milky coffee) for breakfast, and by the time I was ready to leave the café had cleared. Outside I saw Kathy, an American woman from Colorado, just standing up from her table. She was alone too. Instead of passing with my usual ‘Buen Camino’, I told her I was stopping for the day. In response she showed me her blistered feet and said she wasn’t going any further either.
Out of a regard for Kathy’s feet we walked slowly up the hill into town and decided to reward ourselves with the comfort of a hotel room. While we waited for our rooms to be readied, we sat outside on a bench in the early morning sun and were completely open with each other about our lives and our Camino experiences. We clicked straight away. I felt Kathy understood when I said how difficult the experience was for me and how out of tune I felt with those who were having a wonderful time.
After we checked into our hotel we went our separate ways, although I hoped we would meet again later in the day. However, as the day progressed I felt really vulnerable and tired, so I spent the whole day more or less in, or on, the bed. With nothing to do, the day was long and I wished I had a novel for company. At some point during the afternoon I picked up the only book I had brought with me, Conversations with God. It was not what I wanted to read, but it was all I had and so I began, reluctantly. Surprisingly, I really got into the book and felt my spirits lift.
By the evening I was starving. I hadn’t had any lunch, and although I was in a hotel, they didn’t serve food; it functioned more as an apartment service. While I could have gone to any number of places, I didn’t have the energy I thought it required, nor was I in the mood for facing people. So after the rain stopped I found a local shop where I bought bread, fruit, cheese and cured meat for dinner in my room. That way I could also continue reading my book.
Later, despite being in a real bed with actual sheets and having a private bathroom at my disposal, I had a fairly sleepless night; part of me wanted to be in the albergue with everyone else.