The day started very slowly as I was definitely not on form. We took a meandering route out of town, taking in a fair bit of the Camino track. I could really have done with being on smooth tarmac as I felt so ill, but on our attempt to get back on the road an old lady yelled at us from a window that we were going the wrong way and wouldn’t leave us alone until we turned back onto the track. We passed an old couple ploughing their field with an ox; something that I just didn’t imagine would happen in 21st Century Spain.
I realised just how slowly I was going when we were overtaken by a walker! He stopped to chat whilst we bought stamps at a small village, and we parted company as he followed the track and we got back on the road. We passed by several vineyards before we arrived at Villafranca del Bierzo, where we met up with four people from the Netherlands who had cycled from home. They were keen to exchange route notes for the final section and to compare maps with Lou. They planned to be in Santiago Saturday, but as I didn’t know what day it was, that wasn’t very helpful for me!
We strolled around but the church was shut and we’d already seen the castle on the way in. We sat down by the church door and each had unintentional naps. By that time my stomach was feeling a bit better, but still very tender. We went to a bar and I drank water until I nearly burst. I was so thirsty as I’d struggled to take even a gulp of water all morning without feeling sick. I topped that off with magdelenas a miel, a Twinkie type sponge, honey flavoured, without the filling.
It was almost 5pm when the temperature dropped to below 32°C in the bar and we decided to set off. It was a bit of a fiddly road to find out of town. I was frightened that we would have to cycle through a 9km tunnel, but it was a good steady climb on a smooth road with plenty of shade. We stopped to buy cherries from a man in the back of a van, although I didn’t dare eat any. Soon we were on the village roads to Vega, and were therefore compelled to sing ‘Viva Las Vegas’.
I was starting to feel really rough. I wasn’t hungry although I knew I should be as my legs just weren’t holding me up. I had a cereal bar, one half first then the other half a kilometre later. It was staying put but making me feel nauseous. The heat wasn’t helping. My watch registered my skin temperature as 42°C, not recommended.
The first refuge was ‘completo’, and the chap advised us to carry on 3km up to the next. There was a pension sign so we tried that – also ‘completo’ but we could sleep in the gym at the schoolhouse. We decided to try further up the road, and if we didn’t find anywhere we would come back. I was feeling bad – light headed and dizzy with no internal temperature control.
At the next refuge Lou went in to check availability whilst the bikes held me up. The alburgue had space and offered dinner – woohoo!
It was even hotter inside in the barn attic bunks we got. The nicely refurbished room downstairs was for walkers only! I tried lying down but felt worse, so I had a cool shower which helped, as did dinner which was all divine – gaspacho, feta and tuna salad, pesto linguini and crème Catalan with jugs of cheap red wine – but I stuck to small portions for safety. A quick stroll down the road for some air and in bed by 9:30 despite chickens fighting in the road and cows mooing as a kid drove them along.