El Beso – The Kiss.

Said my goodbyes, again, and set off, renewed.

The morning was stunning. We were still relatively high in the mountains.

The morning sun came out strong, burnt off most if the early mist and warmed my back. When I had to round corners in the shadows it was still quite cold, but as I have always said, I would rather be too cold than too hot.

The welcome chill meant the effort of walking wasn’t causing me to sweat. It really is difficult to pick what to wear in these mornings. The fleece I had has, on numerous occasions, ended up absolutely soaked through my efforts while under the rainproof layer, whether coat or poncho.

This morning wasn’t too bad. I had the chance early on to bag my waterproof coat and, at times, open my fleece.

The mountains around rose out of the low cloud level as if slashing through a white silk sheet. The cloud level was a few hundred feet below me as I walked the dirt and stone paths, occasionally having to meet the modern world’s tarmac and cross like a fox moving from one part of its territory to another.

Quick check for traffic, break cover, cross without being seen and disappear into the undergrowth at the other side. The SAS survival training kicking in.

This was a beautiful section of the Camino. Not that the other parts hadn’t had their form of beauty but, again, this reminded me of home.

Small groups of buildings would crop up every now and again. I suppose we would call them hamlets or something like that. Dogs, mainly German shepherds, would invariably slink up to you, sniff you out for food, then turn and slink off again. These are big  dogs, generally trying to hump every other dog in the village. I’m glad they were only sniffing me for food – I think.

Came across this huge chestnut tree. Looked as though it had been split many times by lightning and reformed itself into this grotesque mal-formed creature.

knarled looking thing

knarled looking thing

I looked at it as I walked past before hearing a voice coming from the tree, as I thought. Kinga, the Hungarian who I had met before appeared from behind the tree. “Aren’t you going to look at the tree?” It’s a badly formed tree with a plaque on it, I thought. “Ok”, I said. “Let’s have a look and see what’s so special”, I said. As I thought – nothing. The plaque told us all about chestnut trees but nothing about this particular tree.

Kinga and I decided to walk together, there was a small village coming up and we both need refreshment and some cash.

Don’t ever get the impression you can get by without cash up here. You could actually get turned away from an albergue if you only had a credit card. Wonder if St. James found this? Maybe he had the same problem with “his Mastercard” – I know, I stretched that one a bit too far.

We sat and had a late breakfast together, walked to the end of the village and went our separate ways. Trina, who had had a problem with her knee, had limped into the village late, joined us for a while and then decided to stay the night there.

My next stop was an eco albergue. Generally that meant, hippies. I wasn’t wrong, but I was surprised. Surprised that I had such a wonderful time and didn’t eat meat for my stay there at all. Normally I would say “I didn’t climb to the top of the evolutionary tree to become a vegetarian”, but I was in the right place with the right people.

I had arrived first, taken my bunk, settled down with a bottle of organic cider – lovely, sit in an obviously reclaimed chair from an old three-piece suite someone had thrown out and chilled – man:-).

More peregrinos arrived, Chris, a German lady, Denise and Laurence, a French/Canadian mother and daughter and then, a sight for sore eyes – Mike, the English guy I had met a few times before.

We all sat at a rickety wooden table in the garden and then two more peregrinos arrived, Susie, a young German girl and Nirvana, an Australian girl.

We all chatted, ate apples from the trees, shared walnuts that Denise had foraged and generally got to know each other.

After a while I went up to an area above the house they called the terrace.

Here comes that word again – Wow!

It was like finding a secret garden. There was a huge piece of slate, about 7 feet long by about 4 feet wide, roughly shaped which was the table. This and the benches were propped up by old tree stumps or any bit of wood that fitted.

The view from here was stunning.

The late afternoon sun had warmed the slate and, when one of our hosts asked did we want to eat up there no-one refused.

We had a wonderful vegetarian meal, drank lots of organic wine and laughed with, and at, each other.

When the sun went down behind the mountain it was time to turn in.

I have to use this blog to apologise to Mike for taking two blankets and leaving him with none. It was Baltic that night. Sorry Mike.

Early start being set off with yoghurt and muesli. Hope the vegetables don’t kick in later up a mountain.

About CJ

Setting out 1st September to walk El Camino. I am walking the French Way and starting at Logroño. My wonderful wife is joining me at Sarria to finish the walk with me.
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