Monasterio was as good a spot as any for a rest day, I figured. I’d scored a private room for 10 Euro in this not-so-tiny town. Plus I have a few days to kill before I can arrive at my hotel in Merida for Semana Santa. Even at my snail’s pace, I have time.
The rest day didn’t assuage the encroaching anxiety that I’ve squelched from time to time, however. Anxiety was the very thing I wanted to rise above on this trip–the kissing cousin to fear. I still struggle each day to make it to the albergue. So far, it’s been a painful exercise in endurance.
Yet, taking a day off is pretty boring. Partly because I don’t seem to have much energy for curiosity. Visit the Museo de Jamon? Naw. Check out the 15th century church? Maybe later. I am usually propelled onward by curiosity, so this is new for me. The Camino is sucking it all up.
I set off in the morning after my day off with good energy and only a twinge of doubt. The weather was perfect, as it s been every day–cool and sunny. And I can gladly report that I ended the day in pretty good shape, too. Tired, but not done.
The best was yet to come.
As I approached town, a man drove up. He was from El Zaguan de la Plata, one of the albergues in town. He would take me there. The dormitory was 10 euro and an apartamiento was 15, with breakfast and use of a washing machine included. I’d heard of the place and a ride was too good to refuse.
I wasn’t expecting much. Usually, 15 becomes 20, or you are charged for extras, like a towel. I was expecting shenanigans right until I walked through the door and had to pick up my jaw from the floor.
There was a fountain and a swimming pool. There were gardens, two kitchens, dining rooms, parlors, a terrace. The place was spotless. There was a little “museum” filled with farming paraphernalia, kitchen tools, a horse-drawn carriage that looked like a Model T without the engine.
I was assigned a double room but no other woman came, so I had it to myself.
Turns out the man who drives around picking up the pilgrims is the owner. He and his son, both Antonios, run the place, sort of as a passion and labor of love. My Spanish isn’t up to discussing motives and history, so I had to let the place speak for itself. I was treated to a 4-start experience for the price of a bunkbed. Keep that in mind if you are ever in Fuentes de los Cantos
Fortified, I was back on the road the next morning for what ended up being a 16-mile (24 km) ramble. I’m finding that I can limp in very tired after a long walk, and it takes a while to recoup, but by the next morning, the aches are (mostly) gone, and I’m (sort of) ready to move on. All this is encouraging
I’m learning some good road lessons, like don’t do the adult equivalent of asking, “When are we gonna get there?” You’re never going to get there, so deal with it. A lively sound track puts a bounce in the last few miles. Changing into sturdy sandals halfway through the day airs out your feet and feels good. You have lots of time to pray. You will experience moments of both utter joy and uncomfortable pain.