Day 18: Terradillos de los Templarios to Sahugun aka The Camino Ghost

We are currently staying in a monastery (Albergue de las Madres Benactidinas) where the stamp they use looks like it’s a HP dementor... Quite fitting for them. Where do I start with this place? It is €17 per person to stay in a creep double room, and they charged us €10 each to wash and dry our clothes and wouldn’t even wash everything in the bag provided, because they said we packed too much inside? Mind you, the nun busted into our room while I was showering just to tell us this. Later on, when it was time to grab our laundry, she angrily told me I nearly broke the dryer because our clothing had too much lint? I was shocked by the way she spoke to me, and could not formulate a response, and then she said, “wow poor girl, you don’t speak any Spanish at all, do you?”

This AM (in our normal albergue), we had coffee and OJ (no tortilla) and met up with Bridgette again, who would also be staying with us in the same monastery in Sahagun. On our walk, we met these two South Korean brothers, one 23, and the other is 20. All of us dreaming of Korean BBQ. The 23-year-old was in the Navy and speaks almost perfect English while the other doesn’t speak any English at all. The older brother says this is because he prefers to learn math and science, not other languages. I asked about the sudden increase of South Koreans completing the Camino. I would say nearly 30% of the Camino walkers are South Korean. He said it is because there are tons of documentaries, movies and books all over South Korea glorifying the Camino. There are now also smart phones that can easily translate, whereas before you’d have to learn Spanish before heading out. I asked him why he was doing this, and he said he’s just trying to figure his life out. Now that he’s left the Navy, he’s debating if he wants to go back to school. Unlike the US, in South Korea you don’t receive any benefits from being in the military. He considers the biggest benefit being that he was trained in  Hawaii for four months.

As we were walking, we noticed a guy walking the opposite direction of us. This isn't uncommon as some people complete the Camino from the opposite direction, starting in Santiago. The older brother stopped and asked if I would believe him if he told me that this is the fifth time he has seen this specific pilgrim walking the opposite direction. I responded that it wouldn’t be possible as you can only pass someone going the opposite direction once. He said that he and others have witnessed this same phenomenon, seeing the same pilgrim walking the opposite direction. I asked if he thought he was the ‘Camino ghost’ and he responded, “That's exactly what we call him in Korean!” Upon walking into the town of Moratinos, we noticed a bunch of hobbit holes on a hill. I thought I was in Lord of the Rings for a sec. These are 5000-year-old bodegas built by the Romans. There was a hostel/coffee shop in the same village and we needed to use the restroom, anyway. In the cafe, we ran into our dear friend, Andrea from Hungary. I asked the owner if he had any gluten-free options and he said he had both bread and homemade almond cake. Apparently he’s also gluten-free, and understands how real the struggle is in Spain. This was such a nice surprise and it was grand to sit down and have a real breakfast, along with some delicious homemade cake. Can I just rest here for a day or two?

We again hobbled into our final destination, Sahagun. Our joints have stopped hurting, but the blisters are forcing us to slow down or just stop at this point. On arrival, almost everything was closed. Also, our albergue was over a mile into town. There is nothing like walking for what seems like forever, only to go searching another mile to find a place to sleep. In Spain, everything closes early on Saturday and everything is closed on Sunday. This Monday, the Festival of Pilar is taking place, where everything yet again will be closed. I needed a pharmacy to aid to my open wounds and could not find one. The nun as mentioned before, was not the nicest, or most helpful, so we were and still are avoiding congregating at the monastery.

In town, we got a mediocre meal at a bar for €10. I’m just sticking to salad and fries at this point. My foot pain had gotten pretty bad, and we decided we would take the train 40k to Leon tomorrow, to rest for two days. En route to the train, which was a good walk away, we found an open pharmacy! Well, it was just closing. I was provided with antiseptic, bandages and tape. At the train station we got our tickets for a 7:45 AM train ride for five euros each. I think the nun hates us and won’t turn on our heater for this reason. I am feeling pretty defeated- between my feet, the cold, the long winded days. If it wasn't for my friends, coworker’s and Kenan cheering me on, I would probably consider putting my (bloody) white sock up at this point. Ha. But really.