Life lessons to Ledigos.
Long-distance walks offer up insightful revelations in the most unsuspecting places. Epiphanies can materialise while climbing over soaring mountains, weaving amongst ancient forests or venturing along wild coastal pathways. Day 16, however, did not contain any of these enchanting natural wonders. In fact, it was the poster child for ‘just placing one foot in front of the other’. As much of the way featured a largely unremarkable straight strip of shadeless track, it can only be described as a road that made you appreciate corners. However, after battling through it all, I discovered the value of dogged perseverance.
Camino de Santiago Diary – Day 16
We stepped out of Day 15’s accommodation at Villalcázar de Sirga’s Municipal Albergue to find globules of intermittent rain illuminating the first specks of Spanish daylight. A luminous view of the fortress-like Iglesia de Santa María la Blanca cathedral greeted us in the town centre us as a precession of swallows set about their morning’s swoops and twitters.
The drizzle followed us out of the mini-metropolis and into its farming fringes. This landscape would have appeared commonplace without the sun-refracting spray, however, this dynamic dawn light had the power to turn the instantly forgettable into the most mesmerising.
After only four days traversing the boundless Meseta, the flattening midday sun had turned each day’s grain-filled scenery into plateaus of lifeless beige blobs. While I admired the enormity of the agricultural spectacle, I had grown tired of the uniformity. Nevertheless, the sight of the morning’s halcyon rays filtering through the region’s paddocks captivated my attention and reframed my appreciation of Spain’s pastoral panoramas.
I savoured dawn’s postcard-ready pick-me-up as I devoured my habitual brekky tortilla at our breakfast stop in Carrión de los Condes. I knew I needed to accumulate extra inspiration for the rest of the day’s journey. The path to the next Camino town of Calzailla de la Cueza had been described as one of the trail’s toughest mental challenges.
When leaving Carrión de los Condes remember to stock up on water; 17 kilometres separate it from Calzadilla de la Cueza. In recent years, a roadside kiosk has opened at the halfway point, though there are no guarantees that it will be open.
Of the day’s 28.7 kilometres, 17 of them followed an unwaveringly straight, mundane stretch of dusty gravel track. The uninspired view offered a trickle of trees, a soaking of all-too-familiar wheat and a drenching of lifeless dirt (not even the weeds could be bothered growing out there). The scenery (or lack of) bordered on cruel.
The sapping struggle on Day 16 wouldn’t be my most treasured memory of the trail. Still, the experience taught me more about appreciating the trivial aspects of daily life than any challenge in recent memory. Building respect for routine isn’t easy, but we must acknowledge that without our uncelebrated labours, we cannot ultimately fulfil their goals. Finding a healthy balance between the ‘everyday’ and the ‘extraordinary’ is essential.
Yes, I could have caught a bus or booked a taxi to the end of the route but, my Day 1 goal of completing the entire Camino Francés from start to finish could not be achieved without battling this banality. Knowing this, the lacklustre stretch seemed all the more valuable.
We skipped through Calzailla de la Cueza (via making pigs of ourselves at the first restaurant we could find), through the subdued countryside and into our day’s final stop in the quaint village of Ledigos. Tiptoeing down the horse-manure-lined main street, lingering with an eye-watering bouquet and buzzing with bird-sized flies, we thought we’d made a disastrous mistake to move on. Fortunately, our accommodation at Albergue La Morena en Ledigos eased our uncertainty. Lush lawns, hot showers, snug bunk beds, hearty meals and a well-equipped kitchen serviced all of our needs. The beautifully presented Albergue served as a reminder not to judge a book by its feces-stained cover — one final life lesson before Day 17’s jaunt to Bercianos Del Real Camino.
All the details.
Trail distance covered
Yep, you guessed it. Flat as a tack to Ledigos.