I awoke early to the shining sunrise not really sure where I was. I had slept well in the bivi bag on the edge of town. Hungry I headed into El Burgo Ranero to find a cafe. There were two next to each other in the centre of town. At the first cafe I bought some coffee and croissants. At the bar were two policemen. They were looking at me laughing and smiling. ‘We saw you sleep last night’ they said. They had spotted me during the night asleep near a road but had decided not to wake me. They just laughed at the way of the pilgrim. I had been lucky as often they will arrest people sleeping ‘wild’. Its illegal in Spain.
The morning sun was bright and the air crystal clear. I left town after breakfast past some marsh land alive with frog and bird song. What followed was another long straight stretch of over twelve and a half kilometres to Reliegos. It would be all that I could manage that day. The heat quickly built and the sun was intense. Efforts had been made to plant trees along the length of the Camino however the trees were young and gave little shade.
It was only six kilometres before the efforts of yesterday’s thirty five kilometre walk were felt. I was exhausted. There was a shady rest stop where I lay on a concrete pique-nique table and slept again for over an hour. The trees rustled and the birds sang as I slipped in and out of sleep in the peaceful countryside.
When I set off it was no better. The heat was almost unbearable, and the sun unrepentant in its ferocity. It was not so far to the next village that would definitely be the stop for the night. The longest few kilometres of my walk so far! Completing a long day’s walk was inevitably followed by tiredness the next. Its better to do twenty five kilometres a day or so and not to overdo it on any one day.
Finally with a parchment thirst I arrived in the tiny village of Reliegos. I stopped at the famous bar near the centre. It was unique on the Camino. The exterior and interior walls were covered in notes, stories and memories of the thousands of pilgrims that had stopped there over the years. I met Patricia again but she was keen to continue. Patricia was a wonderful person. I never really got to know her well enough to discover what was worrying her.
Soon after Moritz, Ruth, Daniel, Ricardo, Alex, Serena, Caroline and Ray arrived. We sat in the late afternoon sun chatting over a few cold beers. The owner of the bar was a wildly friendly man who simply slumbered in his long comfortable seat while directing his customers to go behind the bar and help themselves. He had few worries and enjoyed and excelled in providing pilgrims with some nourishment on their long trip. I don’t think he even cared too much about how much people payed.
The albergue in Reliegos was simple, clean and friendly. I prepared an evening meal while others sat at the tables planning and plotting the next day’s offensive like a military campaign. GPS, maps, books and notes were all sprawled over the tables as each section of the next day’s walk was analysed in detail. I just follow the yellow arrow.
TIP: ‘Wild’ or ‘stealth’ camping is possible on the Camino and its good to do now and then. Just watch out for the police, especially in Galicia, as they can be tricky and you may find yourself having a free nights accommodation at their expense! Anyway, for the pilgrim, an albergue is cheap, warm and provides a hot shower. The chance of spending a night under the stars should not be missed however!