Saturday, May 7, 2016
Distance: 20.9 km.
7:30 – I throw open the shutters and hear birds chirping happily! I don’t think I’ve ever opened old-fashioned shutters on a bedroom window so mark this down as another first! It also appears to be a pretty nice day – a little on the cool side but dry.
8:00 – The free breakfast apparently ended at 7:30 so I pack up and hit the road on an empty stomach. Imminent death by starvation is not an issue.
9:05 – This was the most serene donkey I’ve ever seen. He was barely awake even though a steady stream of pilgrims had their hands all over. I’m not sure if he was just content, trying to sleep, or perhaps severely depressed as a result of being dragged up and down the Camino by the guy in the tent who may or may not be doing this full-time for donations. Things weren’t always so quiet in this meadow though. More than 40,000 Christians died in battle here in 1085.
11:25 – I arrive Bercianos and head to the first bar in sight. I wouldn’t recommend this approach as bars on the ‘entrance’ side of town are generally more expensive and not as good as the bars in the centre of town. Bars on the far side of town cater mostly to locals and can be a lot more interesting, albeit sans wi-fi.
11:45 – I shared a table with a woman from Maine who vowed to move to Canada if you-know-who wins in November. And unlike most people who say this in jest, Anne-Marie is dead serious. She’s a Native American woman who worked as a flight attendant until two years ago. She got her 30-year-pin on a Friday and the following Monday she told her supervisor where to stick it. She’s currently on a round-the-world trip with a twist – she’s doing it on foot, vehicle and boat. No planes! She also realizes that two years is pushing it and she may need another year. “I want to wait until the chips fall in November before deciding what country I settle down in,” she told me.
13:45 – I arrived in El Burgo Ranero at 13:30 and by 13:35 it was raining harder than I’ve seen since Thailand. There were no beds left at the municipal albergue but the guy on the front desk at the private Albergue La Laguna says I can have the ‘Presidential Suite’ for 25€. I agree, sight unseen as there aren’t many alternatives!
The Presidential Suite is about as presidential as, well, Donald Trump. And like millions of Americans who took a look at Ted Cruz and decided they could overlook some of The Donald’s more obvious deficiencies, I considered walking 10km to the next town in a cold, driving rain and decided that 25€ was cheap for such opulence.
21:18 – I’m back in the Presidential Suite after dinner at the closest of the town’s three small bars. I chose the first bar rather than walk another dozen steps in the rain. That was mistake #1. Ordering ‘rabbit tender’ was the second mistake. I don’t know what I thought it would be, but it wasn’t this.
I know it’s a cliche, but rabbit tastes just like chicken. In this case, chicken thighs with extra big bones. More specifically, chicken thighs that were found at the bottom of the fryer at Popeye’s when they drained it for the annual cleaning.
22:00 – It’s still another two hours until the Kentucky Derby goes to post so I’ll have to catch the replay in the morning. Everyone knows that Presidential Suites come with a personal attendant and I’m sure mine will be around to turn down the bed and feed me chocolate dipped strawberries any minute now.