Phew, that was close …

Subtitle:  Has he spoken too soon??

Camino Day 15, Martes 21st Setiembre. 352 klms. Frómista, Castile y León, España.

[Note to my devoted and extensive audience … all 5 of you!! Yesterday’s post has been substantially updated. FYI.]

One of my last comments from yesterday was that I’d kill for an anti-inflammatory. Well I’d forgotten that Janet has some, a contingency supply in case she injures her back.

Today was shaping up to be a disaster. I applied my special Spanish non-anti- inflammatory ointment from yesterday to my leg, taped it up, popped one of Janet’s pills,and gingerly walked out into the early morning light. We were staying at the western end of town so within a few minutes we’d come to the edge of town and onto the dirt track leading away and eventually up to the top of the meseta.

And then I put my foot down to an intense shooting pain all the way up the leg. Given that we were some 25 klms from tonight’s destination this was not a good start to the day. I was filled with all sorts of bad thoughts. Was this the end of the walk altogether, should I bus to León immediately and seek medical help, what about Janet, was this the end of her walk too? And on they went. Well, wisely or unwisely, I decided to try to go just a little bit further. And at that stage either the effects of the anti-inflammatory pill cut in, or some other physiological or psychological change occurred, but within about 20 steps and a couple of minutes the pain retreated to an annoying but dull ache and stayed there all day.

So hopefully that’s the last of the “leg reports”, and hence the title and subtitle of today’s post. (The other alternative title was “make pain your friend”, but I couldn’t work out to whom to attribute that quote.)

So, we headed out of Castojeriz around 8 am, into the lovely pre-dawn light. The valley was swathed in light fog, and we could see our track winding its way of into the distance and then snaking up the hill to the top of the meseta. And of course a procession of little two-legged ants of all colours making their way along said path.

It probably took about an hour to get to the top, and the two photos below give some idea of the beauty of the vista below us. castrojeriz and its castille can just be seen through the mottled light.
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Today was a longish and thoroughly enjoyable day (once properly started). It seems that the bodies have got “used to” walking for some 7 hours or so without all that much protest.

My musings and wonderings were mostly agricultural. We walked though extensive broadacre wheat fields, interspersed with periodic lucern crops. A couple of klms beforeItero de Vega, 10.6 klms and 2nd breakfast, we crossed the Rio Pisuerga, which amongst other things is a feeder for the Canal Pisuerga and the Canal de Castilla. I have much research to do on these to understand them and their utility properly, but just by observation they look to be marvellous agricultural infrastructure projects.

Over the Rio Pisuerga is a beautiful mediaeval (11th century ???) bridge, below:
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The photo below is as good a place to start as any:

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At least three things can be seen here: part of the extensive agricultural land in front, a tiny (maybe 12/15 house) village, and part of the extensive array of Spanish windfarms in the background. Each has a place on this story.

The agricultural lands we walked through today (and indeed before and I guess after) at times stretch as far as the eye can see. The wheat (I assume) crop has been harvested, and the lands are in various stages of fallow – not plowed, recently plowed, or plowed some time back. Combined, each of these, added to by the direction of the sun, produce a wonderful array of brown hues, from the faintest golden straw colour through a range of increasingly darker and deeper browns, sometimes topped off by the almost black-brown of the drying mature sunflower plants. Add to this the geometry of the plowed fields and it really is a sight.

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I have never seen an old tractor. All the farm machinery is big and relatively new. So clearly there’s money in them thar paddocks. Which brings to the second element of my early photo. In Australia these farming communities would be 50/60/70 klm+ apart. Here they are often just 5 klms apart, in all directions. So how do these little villages survive? The ones on the Camino benefit from the traveller’s Euro. And even then populations are declining in places. The tiny village in the photo is probably in terminal decline. It might look quaint, but that’s probably where it’s attraction stops. So I wonder, rhetorically, what the future is for rural Spain.

The answer might lie, at least in part, in the third element in the picture – the wind generators. We have now seen hundreds and hundreds of them. Wind is now the biggest individual power generation source in Spain, at around 22% of total perished produced. It runs neck-and-neck with nuclear-powered stations, and way ahead of coal. The politics of renewables in Spain seems to be as complex as anywhere, and jobs in the sector have apparently declined as a result of government policy, but nevertheless tens of thousands of people work in this sector.

So today was a day of wander and wonder – wondering about the effects on the old industries/economy of the new.

The next wondering came as a result of seeing m the Canal Pisuerga and the Canal de Castilla. Much research needed here. I think these two may be part of a single 200 klm system. Whatever, they clearly play an important part in agricultural irrigation, as some following photos show.
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But just to wander along the canal, as we came into Frómista, was a lovely end to a very pleasant day’s walking.
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Which brings me back to the day’s walk. We spent the day as a threesome – Helen from Scottsdale and Janet chatted almost the whole way, whilst I came and went according to photographic demands.

The day ended with a visit to the 950 year old Iglesia San Martin. Built in 1066 (think William the Conqueror and all that), it is a very simple building, almost a polar opposite to the cathedral in Burgos.

We then chanced upon Helen in the bar opposite the church, and that turned into an impromptu dinner with her, Kerry and Chereena, Paddy the retired farmer from Durban South Africa, and a bloke from Italy whose name escapes us.

Our hostal for the night is lovely, with almost the friendliest and most effervescent Spanish señora as our host.

Tomorrow is a lazy day. Only about 20 klms into Carrión de los Condes. Hasta luego.

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