Day 2: Distance travelled 12kms. Total ascent 178m
Weather: Cloudy, light showers and warm. Est: 22-25 degrees
Our second day into the Camino takes us up towards the Cruz de Ferro, although we plan to stop in Rabanal del Camino about 12 kilometers away. We start the day with a pilgrim breakfast in the albergue – hot chocolate, toast and fruit juice. A nice start to the day, but hopefully we won’t be caught to many more times without food and needing to eat in the bars as the budget doesn’t stretch that far! We head off as the sun is starting to rise.
As we head into the hills the weather becomes more unsettled and several light showers pass over us. The temperature is still in the low 20s so the showers are welcome cooling – and they help to settle the dust on the track. You can easily tell a pilgrim by the white chalky dust covering their boots and legs up the their knees. Starting out earlier means we are also walking amongst dozens of other travellers – most of whom are overtaking us! We have already met several hardened pilgrims who are covering 30 to 45 kms per day. One man had started from Amsterdam 96 days ago and was now averaging 40+ kms a day! We have also been told several Camino ‘proverbs’, such as:
The Camino doesn’t really start until you return home.
First you have to be the Camino before you can start the Camino.
Well, I guess these can be as deep and profound as you want to make them! For us, we are enjoying the slow pace, the chance to chat as we walk, the fresh air and physical exercise, and the snatches of deeper reflection on life this walk offers. We are also finding these small Spanish villages rustic, simple and charming. The locals are completely used to having travellers pass through their town and are extremely friendly and welcoming, but in a low key, non-consumerist and un-touristified way.
We have also had many conversations today with a diverse range of fellow pilgrims from around the world, each of whom has their own story and reasons for being on the Way. And that, we are starting to appreciate, is the beauty of the Camino. It is the people you meet and the conversations you strike up. It is strange how an ancient pilgrimage route such as the Camino attracts so many different and varied people. The albergue we are staying in today, Albergue Gaucelmo, is run by volunteers from the London based Confraternity of St James. The property was purchased in the 70s and has been gradually restored. It is now a fabulously kept ‘hostel’, and run by three cheery and friendly British volunteers. The facilities are spotless and the amenities great.
The albergue is opposite the Benedictine Monastery of San Salvador del Monte Irago and we were fortunate to be able to attended Sunday vespers in the evening. JGirl17 was asked to take part by delivering a reading – most of the service is in Spanish or Latin (in the monastic tradition), but at the end several pilgrims were asked to give a reading from the Bible in different languages. The evening prayer service was marked throughout by the Gregorian chants lead by the resident monks, and was a fitting highlight to end our day with.
ps – it is a sign of the times that even in these tiny rural villages one can still find a wifi connection!