Belorado to San Juan de Ortega (not Atapuerca, as previously stated)
“Great things never came from comfort zones” (motivational pearl of wisdom from somebody or other)
Today has been a rough one on the feet, or should I say foot. 9km of the walk took us along a forest path which was relentlessly stony and uneven, a nightmare for someone with bad blisters (and I happen to know just the person). Suffice to say this stage is unlikely to go down as one of the favourites.
There were still some interesting sights along the way, however. The road out of Belorado, rather than having scallop shells, had brass plates containing the hand and footprint of people who have in some way or other, contributed to the development of the Camino. Apparently they are meant as a tribute to all who walk “The Way”.
There is a memorial at a clearing on the route through the forest commemorating 300 people who were shot/executed in the first months of the Spanish civil war. It was erected by relatives of those who died. The weather initially wasn’t very sunny today, which meant the sunflowers in the fields all had their heads bowed. It’s the strangest thing after seeing them all with their heads in the air in the bright sunshine, but quite appropriate, I suppose, so near to the monument.
There really isn’t much more to tell about today’s walk, but I’d mentioned last night that’s we were going to watch a pelota match. I’m afraid my description was only partially correct, it seems. “Basque Pelota”, to give it its full title, apparently, can be played in 3 forms : (1) with the hands (2) with a racquet or (3) with a basket. I assume “basket” is the term for the hollowed out banana shaped “bat” we’ve seen in one or two bars in the course of our travels.
In the match we watched last night the two players were using their hands, with fingers and wrists partially taped. It’s like watching a form of squash on a giant court where you need hands of stone to be able to strike the ball, which is not soft. It’s terrific to watch and the sports hall was absolutely packed, creating a terrific atmosphere. You international squash boys would love it, but you’d need to toughen up ; apparently there have been some serious injuries as a result of people being hit with the ball. You can’t play backhand shots, obviously, so you have to be good with both hands. And very fit. And possibly a bit nuts. Over here, it’s clearly taken very seriously. And that concludes the sports bulletin.
Our hotel for tonight is a tad strange. San Juan is a bit of a one horse town, albeit they have the obligatory large church ,which amazingly was actually open. We walked in ( to the hotel, rather than the church) and stood at reception waiting for someone to check us in, but there was no sign of life. We then went back outside and noticed a sign advising us to register at the local bar. Sure enough, this bar is the hub of San Juan, the village’s veritable Viper Room. Anything that happens, happens here. Except they don’t do breakfast. We’re being given a packed lunch(?) for breakfast. Looking forward to it……..We’re going back along at 7.00pm to see what wild shenanigans are going down. They might even serve beer.
Today’s album track is “ Every Day Is A Winding Road” by Sheryl Crow, because every day the road is very windy (pronounced “wyndy” ). There’s been hardly any wind (as in “wind”). Now I’m confused. I think it’s beer o’clock.