We leave Ciruena early, and pass Jeff and Maddie on the road. We meet them again in Santo Domingo de la Calzada, which has one of the silliest pilgrim legends that we’ve ever heard.
The story goes that a local woman fell in love with a passing pilgrim boy, and when he refused her advances, framed him for theft by slipping some stolen silver in his bag. He’s hanged, and his parents come to fetch his body. When they do, they find him, still alive, at the end of the hangman’s rope. They appeal to the mayor to cut him down (which is dumb, just cut him down your damn selves!), and the mayor refuses to believe it. He’s just sitting down for dinner, and tells them, that boy is no more alive than these chickens, plucked and roasted. At that, the chickens, roasted and all, get up and start dancing on the table. The boy is cut down and lives happily ever after. It’s a petty sort of miracle, focusing more on a “screw you!” moment for the mayor, who is not the story’s villain, than that ACTUAL miracle of a hanged boy coming back to life, after a period long enough for his parents to get word back in Germany and make the long-ass trip to Spain to retrieve him.
The upshot is that the cathedral now houses live chickens, and has for centuries, which is a pretty cool way to stand out.
We enter the Cathedral with Jeff and Maddie, who decide not to pay the 3 euro entry fee. We wander around for quite a while, long enough for rain to come and go outside. I’m looking for relics and chickens in the architecture at first, but my attention is soon drawn to a very random selection of displays of miniatures. They have castles with Warhammer and Lord of the Rings miniatiures, including a recreation of the battle for helms deep! There are also superhero displays and lego versions of cities along the camino.
We get a pizza for lunch in Granon, and move on. In Redecilla del Camino, we see a sign offering massages for pilgrims, and knock on the door. It’s closed until 4pm, but the woman, a volunteer, offers to take a look if we need medical attention. Inside, she takes one look at my swollen ankle and pronounces, tendinitis. She is less sure about Dorcinda’s mysterious foot pain, but gives us both the same treatment, a partial shave and a blue stripe of medical tape from the trouble spot up the leg. She tells us what we should have already known – rest, ice, compression elevation. She says, if you can’t rest completely, try to take it easy – instead of 20k days, do 10, 15. We maintain poker faces and nod gravely – we’ve been doing more like 25 – 30, and today ends up being another long one.
We consider stopping at both Viloria de Rioja and Villamayor de Rio, but both are pretty much ghost towns by the time we talk through them. We press on to Belorado, catching up with the Brierly itinerary despite our very slow first day.
At Belorado, we stop at the first hostel we see, just before the town proper. It’s late, and we ask for a private room which isn’t available. What they DO have, however, is a 20 bed room, which we have all to ourselves, for the meager price of 5 euro each.
We are spent, so we try to wash our laundry in the machine, but there’s no soap anywhere so we wash it by hand as usual. We take advantage of the luxury of a dryer, since we got in late, but it is not efficient at all, and ends up costing about 3 euro (more than the 2 advertised) before everything is dry.