Day 4(10-07-2015) , A tale of woe… Zariquiegui to Villatuerta with a detour to the Church of Eunate
Day four began between 6-7 in the morning, I had not pre-packed my backpack the night before so I spent a bit longer getting ready.. I also wanted to get the included breakfast which I already which started at 7. Backpack got packed and breakfast was consumed.. I was a bit underwhelmed by it, it was a cup of coffee and a sweet roll of bread… that was it.
I had yet to get into the full swing of the camino routine that I would enjoy so much later on, more on that later, but in short it involves getting up and walking early and getting breakfast in the first small village or town you pass through that has anything that is open. Usually about between 5-10km into that day’s walk…
So I started out walking, having consumed breakfast. Now I must confess while my memories of this day is quite vivid the sequence of the events are a bit fussy. So instead of trying to tell it as a linear story I’ll just write the bits that stand out in no particular order.
I met Ray, a retired farmer / volunteer firefighter from Australia and we walked for quite a bit together talking and taking pictures of this and that. The conversations went from one subject to the next and time flew, then Ray told me about a church that was off the Camino, according to his guidebook it was well worth a detour to see it and it should only be 1km or so. I joined Ray in this adventure, we walked off the camino proper and by the combination of Google Maps, Ray’s guide-book and some common sense we found the church… 2km later..
and when we got there it was not open yet, it had some irregular opening hours which was understandable since it was privately owned and maintained and presumably they had to schedule the opening hours around whatever else they wanted to do in the day. But it was only 30-45 minutes until it was opening so we decided to wait, after all we had walked 2km extra for this.
While waiting we also encountered a lot of Spaniards and an American couple, which I have forgotten the names of, while pleasant it was a crossing ships in a vast ocean thing, I never saw them again. The Spaniards were doing the camino by car however so that was a mark against them right there, but when they offered to share their wine all was forgiven. Since this was my first encounter with a wine skin I made a fool of myself since I obviously did not know how to drink from a communal wine skin, but after a quick demonstration I got the hang of it and had a few gulps of excellent wine.
We had walked 2km for this, in the rising heat.
Yes, remember when I said that time flew, well it did.. while I enjoyed walking with Ray we did walk at a slower pace and took frequent breaks… one of which I took to change my boxers to avoid chafing while Ray kept a look-out for me.. but as time passed the temperature also rose … this would come back to bite me in the butt …
Some time after we left the church we met Caesar from Mexico and he had Perry the Platypus with him..
I would run into Caesar and Perry several times on the camino, but this time we only chatted for a bit and after Ray had taken a picture of both Donut the Sloth and Perry the Platypus, he had to take one… to quote ray”No one is going to bloody believe this, a Norwegian and Mexican carrying two stuffed animals from my neck of the woods” after that we walked into Puente La Reina….
It was now well past lunch time, and as you can see the sun was now out in full force.. so me and Ray went hunting for a supermarket to get some cheap lunch and to take a load off our feet.
Lunch for me this day was a collection of fruit some milk.. ( I had trouble finding it because I was used to milk always being refrigerated, in Spain… not so much) and a pack of biscuits as snacks to keep me going until dinner… which unknown to me at this point would still be very far off.
After Puente La Reina me and Ray split ways, we met up a few times after to exchange stories and say hello, but we never walked together again.. whenever we met he would greet me and joke about the crazy norwegian that walked too fast and too far and also…”you’ll hear him coming miles off…” my friends will just nod their heads if they read this. To others who have not met me, I am not the quite type, especially when laughing. (people have located my flat several houses away from the sound of it, true story)
Outside Puente La Reina, I ran into the Hungarians.. This is Dávid (I think) he and his friend kept me company for a while. I was close to Lorca which was my goal they were going further but since their start point for the day had been further along the camino they were not as tired as I was. The sun was also getting intolerable now, we took short breaks in the shade whenever we could and I mean wherever; under a bride, by a cluster of trees anywhere… lots of water was consumed, I drenched my hat and shoes in water… they dried out in less than ~15 minutes.
As we approached Lorca I told them to just head on without me, I was beat and my pace had slowed down significantly as a result. “Buen Camino!” and they were off, and shortly after I reached my goal, Lorca… a small village with two albergues, both of which was full when I got there. I sat down in the bar of one of them, and asked if there was room… “Completo” so I said to the others at the bar, which by this point I had started talking to while waiting for the owner of the bar / albergue to finish serving other customers, I’ll go check the other one then… at this point a french guy chimed in… “also full” and as he said it he had the look of someone in complete misery… I could quite easily relate, I was done in… The owner looked at me and I must have looked equally bad or worse because he offered to call ahead to the next town and ask / reserve a bed for me.
Villatuerta, 5km further, the french guy uncertain if the owner had also reserved for him asked me if I could ask the albergue to keep a bed open for him to when I got there. “Of course” I replied… So I drank the rest of my coke and forced myself back on my feet, as I walked through Lorca I passed the Hungarians again… they looked puzzled so I sat down with them for a few minutes talking and explaining what had happened.
On my way to Villatuerta I passed a fork in the road about half way there, one way lead up a mountain with a big white cross at the peak. So I headed up there, it was a bit of a climb up and I was miserable tired exhausted and now famished as well. Lunch was a distant memory and the pack of biscuits had disappeared long ago. Fortunately my brain had not seized functioning completely despite being boiled and steamed by sun and the water vapour from my hat. I suddenly check the map and the camino app on my phone that has a map as well with GPS… *fuck*
You guessed it, I had chosen the wrong fork in the road and headed half way up a mountain for no good reason, again we are back to Norwegians defaulting to walking up and over mountains when there is otherwise a lack of signs to where you should go.
Walking down I was consoled by the fact that the road to Villatuerta from the fork were I had gone wrong was flat…. so I powered through, and a few miserable kilometers later I arrived. It was one of these towns that was situated right on a hill, so while the road to it had been lacking in the “going-up” category.. the town more than made up for it. It was a steep climb walking through the town, eventually I found the albergue, I think it was the one he called… at this point it dawned on me that I had forgotten to ask what albergue he had called….. oh well… I went into the first decent looking one… “Casa Magica” and it was.
The place was awesome, the staff friendly… as I entered I met the french guy again, due to my detour he had passed me.. he looked like a big question mark when he saw me, I explained my little detour and we laughed. It echoed into the dining hall, where dinner was well underway… as I checked in I also asked if it was possible to get dinner, it was… but
“Dinner is now, but you have the sour so first you shower.. much time to eat after”
That is possibly the most polite way I have been told “You stink, take a shower” I was under no illusion that I smelled like roses after walking for about 12 hours…
I showered and joined the dinner table, dinner was winding down and most were done eating, but a few had lingered at the table socializing and we chatted for a bit… I was famished now so *foood* was all my brain could think of, it appeared… a small starter .. it vanished from my plate so quickly that you’d be forgiven to think it was never there in the first place… seeing the speed of which I had dispatched the starter one of the persons sitting next to me said “if you’re worried about portions, don’t be the paella is huuuge”
A second starter course appeared, it vanished too albeit not so quickly I was going from famished to “just hungry” … There was a bottle of wine and cold natural water (no chlorine, which is in most tap water in Spain) I had a few glasses of each…
And then the Paella came, it was indeed huge.. I had a few bites and started to feel queasy, really queasy. I could not eat more, the waitress and chef was already walking around socializing with their guests… I simply told them that I was full… the paella was delicious, the chef then offered to pack it for me so I could have it tomorrow. Which I was very happy for, money saved on lunch tomorrow.
As the night progressed I was feeling worse… after a while I remembered… I drank a ton, or more precisely somewhere between 7-9L of water that day… and all I had for lunch was fruit, milk and some biscuits … no salt to speak of… hello overhydration / water poisoning. Me and my friends had bought salt tablets for this very contingency to take on hot days when we would be drinking abnormally large quantities of water. The tablets however were in my friends backpack, you know the ones that I had split from. I had not remembered to eat anything salty to make up for the water intake, so queasy was just the beginning, through the night I had stomach cramps and I hugged the toilet in anticipation of throwing up, dry heaving … but nothing else… after a few hours tossing and turning in bed.. I went down to the kitchen and made a homemade remedy… water, salt and some honey to make it go down…. whisked it until it dissolved and poured it down my throat and had a few bites of the leftover paella… it cured the worst of the symptoms. In this period I decided that all plans for tomorrow had gone out the window, I would sleep in…
And so I did, I got up at 08:00, packed my bag slowly .. because I was still dizzy and unbalanced much like I would be after a night of heavy drinking… just without the buzz. Bag packed I walked downstairs with the intention of asking if it was OK of I hung around for a few hours… The first thing that greeted me was a Great Dane, and even for one of those he was a big one….
I scratched him behind his ears after he had sniffed my hand and approved of my presence, after that I was his new best bud it seemed. He followed me everywhere…
As I walked into the dining room I ran in to the chef, Thor was his dog, I asked if it was OK if I hung out for an hour or so… it was, so me and Thor hung out in the backyard, and I availed me of the laundry machine and got all my clothes washed and dried while eating a small bites of the paella and writing in my journal…
As I made ready to leave at around 11, I think Thor sensed my imminent departure and started looking at me with puppy eyes and whining… He had followed me around the entire morning and I was happy for it. He distracted me from my queasyness a bit and I am a dog person through and through so there is that….
I left Casa Magica at around 11 with a goal of walking to Estella which was 5km away…
Casa Magica was a wonderful place and if you are walking the Camino I cannot recommend it enough…