Well, the thing is that the route to Calzadilla de la Cueza is only one and short, but that's on a normal day. With the hearing thunder and lightning approaching, rain doesn't usually scare off people from the north, even heavy one is ok, but when at some given point the expression raining like cats and dogs turns into rather tigers and wolfs... well, that's when you have to consider getting some cover. Add to this, killing hail and wind forces that displace you sideways for more than a meter, and you will see even the tough ones back down!
Against this rage of the gods, the only good thing I could do was jump into the nearest bushes and trees. But the storm was so strong that I had to find another solution, luckily, I was in the same place where the road's waterways were: two tiny holes of 1m by 1m. In the fashion of a circus like contortionist, I squeezed myself into one of them to wait out the storm. Following also the SMS instructions Marta's dad sent us a few days ago, what we initially considered funny ended up being some really good advise:
Tenth recommendation for the Camino: specially if you're a bike pilgrim, when seeing lightnings approaching, get shelter and away from your bike, or you might end up with a haircut worse than Einstein's.
Actually, among mud and spider webs, during those 45 min of apocalypse, I even indulged into another great Spanish tradition, the siesta! Yes, with no way to reach the girls and whereas a Gaul's biggest fear was becoming true "the sky falling on our heads" (check here for reference). Well, that's the moment when a northern guy decided to simply take a nap ;)
With the calm after the storm and a lost hope of drying up, after some long ride I suddenly arrived to Calzadilla de la Cueza, where the only things available are the albergue and a restaurant... But what a restaurant! The guys running it and the food they serve is worth every storm, the servers' friendliness and funny attitude were amazing. On top of it, I had again some great regional dish and even retasted my second favourite beer, Alhambra Reserva. All ended even better with a big laugh attack of Marta and Maitane, only silenced due to the 22:00 lights out.
With Day 9 beginning, Marta and Carla retook last night's endorphins rush and started to dance dance dance! So after some energy rush and a great breakfast, off we went again. While crossing Sahagun, we stopped at a bike shop to refurbish our many punctured tubes from our legendary Puncture Day (check back on day 7 and day 8). Suddenly, that's when I realised that my fantastic pump was broken, whilst hesitating if I really needed it, I finally bought a new one for precaution. I also got myself the best Camino Bike souvenir I could get me, plus, it made me visible! (just in case another rage of gods fell on us; check future entries to discover it).
Pumped up, off we went again to actually get separated soon afterwards. The girls preferred to take the "royal Camino" and as my guide wrote, the "more humanized" one. Wrong it wasn't, since I took myself the "historic path" of Roman origin which was, quote: "more solitary, rough and wild". And boy it was really rough, we are talking here about 30 kms, yes, flat ones, but mostly made of clay-like grounds and full of small stones all the way, monotony and strong side winds all the time! When riding, I was even preferring the dreadful hills of St. Jean Pied de Port from my first day.
If I thought having a solitary morning the day before, this one was definitively my most solitary moment in all my Camino de Santiago. The road never seemed to end because its landscape was all the time the same. Of course, since one "good thing" never comes alone (yes, if you sense some irony, you might be on the right track), it was my time to suffer a puncture! Somewhere in the middle of the roughest paths, my fate was to get punctured and with nothing around at all, yes nothing; outer space in comparison to this nothingness can't even keep up.
But no worries, I was prepared, destiny wanted me to have bought a new pump that morning. She, destiny, really seems to be chasing me, because since I started the Camino she didn't stop to put me on the right track. In any case, after having changed 3 wheels the days before, I could almost do it with my eyes closed... but, there's always a BUT (interpret it as you wish ;) )! My new shiny pump didn't fit my tube, air was going anywhere except into it. I tried and tried and tried, and there was no way I would get it inflated, my other dear pump did fit, but it was broken... that's when at some point my favourite child series came to my mind, MacGyver! Yes yes, make whatever comment you want, but it actually worked. Using my broken pump in combination with the new one allowed my to inflate my wheel to a reasonable amount as to go on direction Leon. MacGyverism works!
So it was then, that I managed to finish one of my hardest and also coldest journeys of my whole Camino, I didn't take off my jacket all day. I finally entered Leon on quite an early time and I reunited there with the "Ondiñas" team again.
In need of some time off, I went to one great bar near our albergue where I received my reward for this hard day: my favourite beer! Even better, they had the toasted version, Estrella Galicia 1906! Ok ok, I guess at this point I might be able to ask them for some commission on all the promo I'm giving them. If not, at least I got a great picture and one amazing tapa of another Spanish delicacy: Jamón Ibérico (=Spanish Ham), the best ham in the World!
After this gourmet moment, another one had to come, dinner!
Looking for a place with a pilgrim menu it was also the first time we met a new companion, Felix from Germany. He actually started his "Camino" in Berlin as part of the World travel he's still in. Obviously, as every good German, after our great dinner he became my beer buddy by tasting and enjoying my favourite beers.
Unfortunately, since some albergues have a curfew, we had to run back in order to avoid being closed out, but not without meeting one of the most funniest priests I've ever met, Leandro...
Tune in for the next days of my Camino to know more about him and other soon to be new companions of the "Ondiñas" team: bigger, better and stronger!