Today was short walking day because I had a date with the Parador in Santo Domingo. Paradors are run by the country of Spain and are an innovative way to preserve historical landmarks such as churches, castles and monasteries (which was the history of the one I had reserved a room).
Many pilgrim accounts I have read include a night at a parador and even Martin Sheen pampered himself and his Camino Family one night in the movie, The Way.
Along with the luxury comes a healthy dose of shame and questioning how true to pilgrim values a night in the Parador is. I am having slight twangs of guilt, but I washed that away with a hot shower with abundant water and luscious soaps and shampoo.
We arrived around 2 and checked in and then had to go to the area in town where pilgrims stay to wash our clothes since the Parador’s laundry service was too expensive. When I say we, I invited Angela to stay in my room as I had gotten a room with two twin beds.
Our walk today was quick and interesting. We started with a light breakfast and some coffee and we sat and talked with Peter who we had walked with most of the day before.
Then we were off.
The sky was dark and you could feel rain in the air. I was not particularly excited about giving my raingear a workout today. Even with the threat of rain, the sky and landscape was beautiful.
There was just one town between Azofra and Santo Domingo – Cirueña. It is not like any other town we have been though it could be a town in Florida. The first thing you see it a golf course! No kidding!
Then we walked right past the clubhouse that was inviting pilgrims to stop and eat so we took a rest.
It was strange, but got even more weird when we walked through the village and almost all of the houses were empty/abandoned. I had heard of this town and it lived up to it’s legend. Apparently is was a victim of the 2008 worldwide financial meltdown.
On the way out we got to talking with a very fit older Galician man who was doing the Camino for the first time.
And we then ducked into a bar for the bathroom and when we came out and started walking we realized we lost the arrows. A couple of cars drove by and honked at us. We were heading the wrong way and luckily were less than a half k off- course and corrected our route
Those who walk the Camino in Late May see huge fields of red poppies. While walking into Santo Domingo we went past a little patch of these flowers that didn’t seem to know what time of the year it was.
I was surprised that the outskirts of Santo Domingo were so industrial. We went past a huge potato factory and some kind of sports stadium before getting into the old part of town.
We combined doing laundry with drinks, some tapas and a visit to the famous church in town.
Still full from the tapas we called it a day and got back to the Parador to rest and recharge.
I am on the fence about the stay at the Parador. It was quite nice and for €85 a bargain by US standards. While they don’t look down their noses at pilgrims, they don’t cater to us either so it was a little discouraging that we had to find a laundromat.
True confessions: I have been on a slippery slope concerning accommodations. I was not sleeping well in the bunks for several reasons including my concern for waking others with my snoring, having to get up multiple times a night to use the bathroom and general discomfort sleeping with a bunch of strangers.
So this pilgrim has been going soft staying in more private situations. That has double to tripled my nightly budget from €10 for a bunk in an Alburgue to a private room with a shared bath. But I sleep much better and with the lingering effects of my cold, I am not worried about keeping people awake all night with my constant hacking.
I am thinking that my penance for staying in the Parador tonight will be bunks tomorrow. But we will see.
I have 72k to go in the next 4 days to get to Burgos by Thursday with one very steep and long climb. It should be doable, but my knee and hip are bothering me and ibuprofen (aka Camino Candy) can only go so far to keep the pain down.
While the weather has been beautiful up to this point, rain is in the forecast for tomorrow adding another element of the unknown. I am considering shipping my pack ahead to ease the stress on my body, but that then pins me down to where I must get to for the night. I can’t be too ambitious or I will really be in a bad situation yet, if I am feeling good, I don’t want to guess in the morning that I can only do a short day.