I set out at first light ( 8.00am) with the intention of putting a good few km behind me today. There isn’t much to distract you in this landscape except perhaps the birds and other wildlife. There is precious little shade from the sun too. I am told that this is the most mentally challenging part of The Camino and I’m beginning to see why this should be the case. For this reason some of the Pilgrims have opted not to walk this section and have taken the bus to Leon instead. Somehow that seems like cheating but I guess everyone needs to have their own personal Camino experience and there are plenty of older Pilgrims who may not be up to the long slog across the Meseta.
I walked part of the morning with Martha , a nurse/missionary from North Carolina who had spent 6 years working in Rwanda. She was interested in how the NHS worked and she told me about her experience if the US health care system. She was paying a lot of money each month for Health Insurance and if she were to make a claim then the company may only pay out around 75% of the costs. With a serious illness the other 25% can add up to a lot of money and it goes some way to explaining the health anxiety that afflicts a lot of Americans. Let’s hope we don’t ever go down that road in the UK.
I pushed on after a stop for breakfast at 10.30am and reached Castrojeriz at 1.00pm. This would normally be the stop over point for this Camino stage according to ” The Bible According to John Brierley ” , the guide book that most of us are using. However I felt good and decided to walk another 10km or so to the small village of Itero de la Vega. I stopped for lunch at a shelter/viewpoint after a steep climb and met a guy from Westport , County Mayo who was cycling The Camino and had hooked up with a couple of Aussies doing the same thing ( see photo ). I reached my destination of Itero de la Vega around 4.00pm and treated myself to a couple of beers as the sun had been pretty intense all afternoon. I was the only Pilgrim booked into the small Refugio ( this village is ” in between ” the stages as suggested in the guides ) until an Irish guy named Gus turned up later. He had an accent reminiscent of Roy Keane and , sure enough , he hailed from West Cork.
I had the Red Kites for company again today ( they seem very common here ). The fields of stubble were full of finches and Wheatears too. There are any amount of small lizards and very colourful butterflies . I’ve posted a photo of a vivid blue butterfly that seems to be the most prolific.