Day 17: Carrion de los Condes to Terradillos de los Templarios aka Alban's Four Fears

Dear blister gods, why do you hate me so? I’m writing this with bloodstained socks. We woke up early this AM and went straight to the to the grocery store, knowing that we wouldn’t have anything to eat for 17.5 km or 10 miles on today's camino. The woman working there was pretty rude. I asked about any gluten-free options, and she responded with a quick and sure ‘no.’ Even when I showed her the bag of cookies I found in one of the aisles that clearly stated ‘Gluten Free,’ she said they weren’t. My Greek mom, minutes after asked if she spoke any English, and again she responded with a quick 'no.’ My mom then asked her if she was a nice person, and she responded (with no surprise), 'no!’ My mom then said, “I already knew that.” I nearly peed my pants watching this scene before my eyes. I realized Spaniards might hate us (pilgrims). Bridgette (you will hear more about her later) told us this is due to pilgrims having a history of being rude and offensive and even knocking on doors at 6 AM to use villager’s restrooms. I’d probably be annoyed with us too.

After our unsuccessful grocery store trip, we headed to a cafe to down some coffee, OJ and a Spanish tortilla. We met a wonderful older woman from New York there, who was walking so slowly that her entire credential/pilgrim passport was full of stamps. She averaged 10k or 6 miles a day. Today’s walk was long, boring, rocky and redundant. We heard a rumor of a bar 7 miles in, but didn't want to get too excited. As clear as a mirage, we saw a trailer 7 miles in with a picnic table. Unfortunately, the trailer was locked up but we nonetheless sat with our water and snacks to rest our feet. In no time at all, Alban showed up out of no where! Apparently he had been sitting in a corner for two hours because of his blisters, one of which he believes to be infected.

Within 10 minutes of us chatting, the bar’s owner showed up to open up shop. Woo hoo! Alban bought us some fresh orange juice (d'aww), and the bar owner complemented my Spanish. The commentary I’ve received for my Spanish has been hilarious. I have heard it all- From someone asking what part of Spain I’m from, to “you speak more Spanish than someone who doesn’t.” Whatever. Alban said he could only make it to the next town, and decided to walk with us. On this walk, Alban opened up even more about his family and his four fears, three of which have been conquered. His first fear was snakes, which he conquered by killing one. The second was darkness, which he conquered by camping out in the middle of no where for a month. His third fear was emptiness or the thought of an abyss, which he conquered by bungee jumping. His fourth and last fear is death, which he’s not sure he will be able to conquer 'until the time comes.’

In town, we stopped for a snack and ran into our Canadian friends Charlotte and Chris, later joined by Alban’s Camino GF. It was nice to rest our feet knowing we only had another 7 miles to go. We literally hobbled into Terradillos as I cursed every rock’s existence. Our albergue (Albergue Los Templarios) was luckily the first building in town. For €9 each, we got a room with two bunk beds and a private bath. Our roommates, a couple from Washington, who we had met a week prior told us some interesting tales. They told us they had walked into a pension and saw a huge signed movie poster of 'The Way.' I guess Martin Sheen and Emilio Esteves had been stuck in this town, years ago and had no where to stay (Side note- Martin Sheen is super Catholic, and has done the Camino more than a few times, hence his inspiration for the movie). Anyway, this Spanish family let them stay in their home, which resulted in them becoming lifelong friends. This also resulted in Emilio’s son marrying the owner’s granddaughter. Cool story, yeah?

Dinner was €10 and included salad and fish. At dinner we met this wonderful woman named Bridget (there she is!) from Switzerland. She is doing the Camino in order to thank God. Since she is a little bit older, her two adult children gave her tracker to wear so that she wouldn’t get lost. She will only be walking until Leon, and then will return back next year to complete the rest. I can now understand why people do this in increments. It is a lot to handle mentally and physically. It is supposed to rain tomorrow, and my blisters are worse than ever. Thus only walking 12 miles to Sahagun. Why am I doing this again?