The peregrinos flitted from the albergue at Santa Croya like bats that fly by day–in twos and threes, or, in my case, ones. If the previous night’s albergue had been like peregrino church, this one was like a comfy hotel.
It still had dorms and shared bathrooms, but it was clean and spacious with some attempt at attractiveness and no attempt at calling forth the spirit the Camino, which was okay, too.
This would be a shortish day for me–about 14 miles (22.7km). The weather was perfect, and I was feeling especially optimistic about finishing the day without killing myself. I had by this time greater confidence in my ability to find and follow the arrows and also confidence that they would be there, which had not always been the case.
The day continued to be beautiful, and I began leapfrogging the peregrinos I’d shared the previous night with–the slower ones, at least.
I was glad for that company of tortoises when I reached Calzadilla de Tera, the first of two villages we’d pass through My guidebook had mentioned fake and missing arrows, which is downright diabolical when that is your only navigational device. Three of us–an older woman from Switzerland, a middle-aged guy from Mallorca, and me–had bunched up at the entrance to town and immediately lost the arrows.
The woman had a good guide, the guy spoke Spanish, and I tagged along. None of us spoke any language in common. It took all three of us to get through that town and the next with conflicting and nonexistent arrows.
In the thick of things, we managed to find a café “to keep up our strength” as my grandma used to say, AND the way out of town, thanks mostly to our native speaker. “Beautiful yellow arrows,” he said in respectable English when we were finally on track again.
Then we each settled into our own pace for the final few hours.
To be continued: Man on a knife edge of faith.