Thursday, 13 June 2013

Day 14: Azofra - Grañón

Ray and I got going reasonably early - I think I'm slowly building up the will to walk again after a few shorter days. Breakfast was great - coffee, giant croissant that even my cousin Richard would have struggled with, and freshly squeezed orange juice. Boom!

The early morning cool didn't fool us - today was going to be hot. The good news was that my right heel immediately felt much better, and I could walk in a perfectly balanced manner, rather than with a slight limp as I'd been doing for the past few days.

Half-finished motorway
We set out at a decent pace and passed through Cirueña - a ghost town full of unsold houses that fell foul of Spain's economic collapse - and reached Santo Domingo by the late morning. We decided that a decent lunch break was worth the 90 minutes or so we'd have to endure walking under the early afternoon sun - which wasn't quite as hot as we'd feared, although others complained about it when we arrived at Grañón, where the pilgrims' accommodation is highly praised. We didn't want to arrive too late either, given that there were only 40-odd beds, and we cursed the mountain biking pilgrims (once they were out of earshot!) as we envisaged them nabbing the last beds just before we arrived. Incidentally most cyclists seem to bomb along the Camino with very little courtesy towards the walkers - they just expect us to be constantly looks backwards to see if we need to step aside to let them through. Slowing down, ringing a bell, politely asking, etc. clearly isn't part of their repertoire! 

The pilgrims's accommodation in Grañón was inside the church building, up a flight of deep stone steps. It was very basic - thin mattresses on the floor and functional (rather than great) shower, but the albergue responsables made us feel at home and cooked us a large supper, after which the pilgrims had to sing songs according to their nationality. The other British guy and I belted out 'God Save The Queen' (not my choice!) and the two other New Zealanders and I sang Pokarekare Ana: again, not my choice, but we downloaded the words (my lack of an NZ high school education leaving me wanting in this regard) and did our best. Gwendoline and another guy from Flanders sang a love song, only to be interrupted after the first few lines by the responsables asking why the third Belgian wasn't singing. He explained that he was from Wallonia, and didn't know the words. Brief chaos ensues, as the responsables tried to resolve the intractable issues of Belgian national identity over the dinner table - without success. The evening was rounded off with compline, a lovely end to a rather long day, aside from the canine population of Grañón deciding to have a late night bark-off. 

The Granon albergue drying room - directly above the church's nave