It’s the end of day 3 and I’m in my own sweet room above a bar in the town of Pajares. My double doors open to a small French balcony that overlooks the spire of the church, and beyond that, to the rugged peaks of the mountains. Mountains that I passed through earlier today.
I’ve been tucked up in this room for quite awhile; aside from lunch downstairs at 3 (the standard three courses with wine and bread; the food wasn’t exceptional but it was just what I needed), I’ve been up in bed, staring out at my view, taking advantage of the wi-fi. This is the town where the albergue is closed, and even though I arrived early, I took my chances with the room above the bar. I’m glad I did.
I think I might be battling another small cold- this has not been the healthiest summer for me! It’s not enough to stop me from walking, but just enough to make me feel drained by the end of the walking day… more drained than usual. So maybe it’s a good thing that this is truly a sola Camino, that I can stay alone in albergues and private rooms and try my best to rest up and recuperate.
I was, indeed, alone last night. I had the fleeting thought that it might be a bit scary to to be all alone in a big and empty building, but I was too tired to worry much. I went over to the inn to pick up my dinner, which was all packaged up for me to take back to the albergue. An appetizer of chicken wrapped in puff pastry, a first course of salad, a second course of paella, fruit, wine, bread (8 euros!! Gotta love Spain). For all my worries about not having enough food, I’ve been totally fine. There was even a coffee machine in the albergue so I could have my shot of caffeine before leaving this morning- perfecto.
Today’s walk was splendid. This is what I came to this Camino for. I left Poladura and immediately began to climb into the mountains, and for the next 10 km, I went up and down and around, on wide tracks and small dirt trails, though meadows of high grass and wildflowers every color of the rainbow. These evenings may have felt just a bit lonely, but to have the path all to myself during the day? I feel lucky, grateful, blessed. As ever, I think to myself, “How did I manage to get my life to this point? To be walking precisely here? Amid this beauty? To have it all to myself?”
The guide I have says not to underestimate the challenge of the first 10 kilometers out of Poladura; the trail is remote and rugged and it took the authors just shy of 6 hours to walk the 10 km. Me? It took me about 3. But the weather was perfect and once I got going I didn’t want to stop. My pack didn’t feel as heavy today- maybe I’m getting used to the weight- or maybe I was too awed to notice my fatigue.
I slowed a bit towards the end, during the last 5 km descent into Pajares. One moment I was standing above the clouds, and in the next, I was moving down towards them… then into them, through them. The path wove through a forest and it was dark, eerie, and with the sun now gone there was a chill on my skin.
And the weather has mostly stayed like this- when I look out my doors I can see the mountain peaks framing the village, but they are hazy. I’ve hung my laundry up to dry, but I think my socks will still be damp in the morning.
That’s all for now; a quiet night following a spectacular day. I’ll take it.
(One extra note: I actually wasn’t the only pilgrim on the trail. 4 Spanish hikers, men probably in their 50’s/60’s were also staying at the bar. And since writing this post I’ve heard of a few others behind me, all guys. But maybe it’s safe to say that I’m the only peregrina- female pilgrim- on the trail for now.)