Stage 15, Sep 18, Santo Domingo de la Calzada to Belorado, 22.5km, total time 5:54 hrs

A day of atonement and reflection. I started at 8:30am, a bit worried for the persisted pain on the right leg. A couple I met the night before suggested me to take sodium hydrocarbonate to reduce the swelling due to accumulation of lactic acid in the muscles. I did not have it with me but I used Alka Seltzer instead and I was surprised to feel graduallly all the aching joints to recover promptly. However the leg was still quite painful but I decided to give it a start anyway at a much slower pace. Actually I felt somewhat relieved to accept my limitations with no urge to be on par with anyone else. Today was in facts the first time I completed the stage without a walking companion since I joined the Camino Frances in St. Jean.

I noticed how the mood of the other pilgrims changed quite substantially since the early days in St. Jean. Then there was plenty of excitement, with a genuine drive to make new friends. Responses to greetings along the road were more open and curious to share personal stories. Now, one week later and some 235 km on the legs, the former group I started with has vanished in the infinite hilly farmlands. The occasional people along the road are all strangers, almost hostile, cutting short comments and jokes. Everyone seems folded on their own purposes perhaps already committed to the inner Camino journey. Along the road today I had just a brief encounter with a mother and daughter from Boston, and a brother and sister from Colorado. No handshakes, no promises for a drink together at the common destination for the day. Now it’s 8:20pm and I am sitting outside at a bar in the Plaza Mayor of this small town, but there is no searching among pilgrims. Everyone seems to rush to buy groceries for tomorrow’s stage, and then disappear in their hostels. The small town is slowly repossessed by the locals who are preparing for their usual dinner at 9pm.

I am going to follow suit. Instead of the usual pilgrim’s menu, I opt for a plate of pinchos and a glass of red wine. I have yet to go to the Pharmacy to buy an industrial supply of Alka Seltzer, and find an hotspot to upload the blog update.

No pictures today apart a sign indicating the entry in the Castilla y Leon province, the largest in Spain.

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The wheater has been cool the whole day and with thick clouds limiting the interest in capturing shots of the quite monotonous rural landscape. I took also the opportunity to visit a local peluqueria (barber shop) where Miguel the master barber trimmed my beard to an acceptable level.

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