Day 17 Calzadilla de la Cueza

l had a lazy start to the day – started walking at 8 am as I only planned to walk 22 kilometres to my bed for the night – the temperature was already a warm 22 degrees as I left Villalcazar for Carrion de le Condes a distance of around 5 kilometres. I was still on the Meseta and as yesterday the walk was on paths running parallel to the highway. As I came into Carrion I passed the working monastery of Santa Clara and decided to visit the church attached and part of the monastery complex. A morning communion service had just started and I stayed – there were just 8 people including me plus the monastery nuns who were sitting behind a barred screen at the rear of the church. The priest was very elderly and stern – the service was very holy with the beautiful singing voices of the nuns. At the time of the giving of bread the priest first walked to nuns and gave them the bread through the barred screen and those participating in the service all turned to watch. The priest then gave bread to all – I will always remember how the priest looked into my eyes when I took bread.

After the service, I enjoyed breakfast in the small town before setting off on a 16 kilometre stretch across the Meseta. The temperature had now risen into the ’30s and the road ahead stretched miles into the distance. This was an old Roman road and with the sun so hot you could feel it reflecting back from the road – it was not just a test of physical endurance it also became mental endurance to keep going forward – other than a single row of poplars there was no shade. The horizon was everywhere you looked – it was like being in the centre of a giant plate and you could imagine how our ancestors thought the world was flat. As I plodded on it reminded me of the scene in the film Lawrence of Arabia where the Arab falls asleep and falls off his camel and when he wakes he starts walking through the desert – I could feel how he walked.

I knew I was not far from my destination but it was nowhere to be seen and then there it was – hidden in a small dip in the road – I went straight to the nearest bar and enjoyed a pint of shandy and a slice of melon.

I met Peter from Melbourne again and enjoyed discussions on varying topics over dinner before going to bed at 9.00 pm.