The dining area at “Grañón” with Thierry stuffing his face as usual
Route segment: 10
Thursday 5th October 2000
Having stayed the night at “Navarette” and lost touch with Carlos etc, I want to catch up and meet them again. They have probably stayed at “Nájera” and will be walking to “Santo Domingo De La Calzada” so I plan to catch a bus to there. I ask the girl in the bar next door what time the buses are and she tells me there is one in about ten minutes but that I have to be standing at a certain spot and I have to wave down the bus.
She says that there is a pottery just behind the spot I need to be. But this town is full of potteries as this is its major industry and I am standing there wondering why every bus I wave down does not stop. There is a bus a quarter mile down the road sitting there with its hazard lights on. It eventually dawns on me that I am standing in the wrong spot but of course as I get close to the bus it pulls away and having sat there for a while the bus driver is not going to stop for me so there goes another bus.
I stand at the right place for another half hour waving at passing buses but no way are they going to stop for me today. There must be a special wave or they just don’t like pilgrims but I am going to have to think again. There is a hotel nearby and I figure that a taxi is an expensive option. The taxi does the journey very quickly and the driver seems to be from the “Michael Schumacher” school of driving and overtakes everything in front of him at speed.
I reach “Santo Domingo De La Calzada” and pay the taxi driver. This one was not as friendly as the first one so I do not shake hands with him. It is only 11:30 and the refuge is closed. I go to a cafe and have several “grande caffe con leche’s” then go back to the refuge, which is now open. But I am distracted and I have forgotten my walking stick. I go back to the cafe but there is no sign of it. I go to the refuge to see if it is there but there is no sign of it there either. It has gone for good. I liked that stick and it saved me many times on the road from slipping on to my backpack or worse. Of course I could have just gone and bought another one but I felt that I should not do so since I didn’t deserve it after losing the first one. I never get around to buying a new stick and from this point onwards do not really feel the need for one.
The refuge at “Santa Domingo Del Calzada”
The dark entrance way where I may have lost my stick
It as at this point that I decide that this place is not good for me and I go to find a decent map like the ones I have seen Lisa
use. There is a bookshop in the town and they have one in German, which is OK as the maps are still readable. I decide that the next best place to go is “Grañón”. I assume that when I get there, no one else I know is likely to be there but I will be proved pleasantly wrong.
On the way out of the town there is a bridge. It is supposed to be over the river Ebro but there is no river to be seen. I took
some photographs but I seem to have lost them so cannot show you. The village of “Grañón” is not very far away but my leg is getting painful again and I get slower and slower. What I need right now is some medical personnel and who should just turn up at that point but an Australian Nurse! “Simone”. She gives me some painkillers and offers to help me with my pack. But her pack is just as heavy so she carries some other items for me all the way to “Grañón”.
It does not look a very promising place and the refuge is difficult to find. Eventually we find it is inside a church and the notice is inside a doorway that you have to be standing inside to see. I suppose a local could have told us where it was but anyway we found it in the end.
We go to a cafe and have a coffee and Simone says that she is not going to stop here. Somehow we get to discussing wet weather gear and she admits that she does not have any. I have a poncho that I have been wearing from time to time but I get very hot wearing it and I give it to her and she comments “well now we’re cooking with gas !” She seems to be grateful. She wants to pay me something for it but I offer it as a gift. We say goodbye. I will meet her again in “San Juan De Ortega“.
I go back to the refuge and who should turn up but Thierry! I am glad to see him and immediately feel that this place is not
going to be so bad after all. The people running the refuge are there to renovate the church and they are about to have their mid-day meal. They ask us to sit down and offer us a share of their meal. Afterwards they also announce that they are going to give us an evening meal and also breakfast tomorrow. Wow! What hospitality. I like this place.
Thierry and I get to talking and have a fairly good heart to heart about all sorts of things. He tells me more about his home life in Canada and eventually gets out some photographs he has of his brother and also his girlfriend. He is missing them both. I don’t recall anyone ever showing me photographs of their loved ones before and I take it as a sign that walking the Camino is having a beneficial effect on my character, making me a little more approachable than I used to be.
At the evening meal, there is a real life priest sitting next to me. He looks a bit like the “Million Dollar man” and is an
impressive sight. When you get the passport stamped, they ask you when you expect to reach “Santiago De Compostela”. It seems that the priest prays every day for the people who have stayed at the refuge to have a safe journey, until the date they have given.
There are no beds in this place, just simple mattresses on the floor. They look uncomfortable but when I lie on one they are
actually very comfortable indeed. The roof is very low here and the mattresses are closer together now, as several more people have turned up. Here are some photographs of the refuge at “Grañón”:-
The refuge at “Grañón”
Thierry is one of those lucky people that can eat and eat and eat and not put on any weight. He can “put away” an amazing amount of food at meal times and I often find it amusing just to watch him and see when he will stop. It is dangerous for me to be near him then as I have a tendency to eat to keep him company and it’s not helping my diet any.
The sleeping area upstairs at “Grañón” with the two cyclists
The dining and sitting area at “Grañón”