This morning as I left the albergue at Azofra, I noticed an old man walking just ahead of me.
He was slightly hunched over and limping a little and I had thoughts of saying “hello” and hopefully listening to him for a while.
But it wasn’t to be – he outpaced me right from the outset and remained steadfastly ahead, until I pulled over at a welcoming fruit stand about an hour or so into the day’s walk.
I could have been chastened by this apparent demonstration of personal feebleness, but I’d already noticed that the old man was carrying just a very small backpack, large enough only to port some water and some basic supplies.
More than a few Pilgrims take this rather sensible option, paying a few euros to send their backpacks forward by car to their next stop, in order to reduce the strain and the effort of carrying all their possessions themselves.
There are, of course, a few who say this isn’t the authentic Peregrino experience.
To that I say “phooey” and other words of that nature.
The people on this path are all at different life stages and health and physical capabilities – so you do it as you see fit.
What’s particularly lovely about the Camino is the relative absence of competition, judgement and general oneupmanship.
There are a few – Mr “What Time Did You Leave The Last Village So That I Can Emphasise To You How Much Quicker I Got Here“, for example.
Always a guy, of course.
Beyond that tedious archetype, there’s a general understanding that everyone does the Camino the way that they need to, the way they want to, the way they have to.
No one else’s opinion really matters.
The one downside of sending your bag forward is that it ties you to a specific destination and removes options to stay somewhere else that catches your eye instead.
Mind you, my bedding is a bit basic tonight.
Currently, my preference is to stop where I feel like, but as I’m often shambling as much as Dr Zhivago at the end of the day, I might just follow in that old man’s footsteps at some point.
Maybe I’ll also be able to catch up with him then.
An unexpected benefit of being English today was the bear hug I received from the fruit stand owner at Cirueña, who was eternally grateful for our contribution to the International Brigade during the Civil War.
That was nice.
Equally nice was the sight of hot air balloons rising into clear blue skies and the gently rising elevations of the day.
Less so was hearing the Plymouth Argyle result, but you can’t have it all.
Municipal Albergue de Peregrinos, Azofra
Super efficient, great views, multiple two-bed rooms, a gorgeous foot bath fountain and well equipped for laundry and cooking (as if). Excellent value. But, oddly, hot water comes out of every tap.
Bar Sevilla is the place to go for food.
Blisters: 2 (5)
I’m wondering if Left Foot might have been sent the link to the blog and is now quite embarrassed about how it’s coming off so far, as it was very much more cooperative today and is back down to one Compeed patch again.
Right Foot decided to deliver a few twinges, but I think it was just a cry for attention.
Trips, Slips and Falls: 0 (1)
Applications of Factor 50: 4 (52)
Filling of Water Bottles: 2 (23)
Unsuccessful requests for Parmesan cheese: 0 (1)
Acceptance of path side lemonade stall opportunities: 0 (2)
Wrong turns taken: 0 (1)
Mobile phone chargers left behind: 1
New mobile phone chargers bought: 1
Number of times “Buen Camino” was said: A miserly 30
Unlikely Song Repeatedly Played By My Brain: You Take Me Up by The Thompson Twins
Poncho deployments: 0 (2)
Will it ever be used again?