We have made it to a little village called Agés about 40 miles west of Santo Domingo de Calzada, which is a town where Saint Dominic lived and devoted his life to making the Camino de Santiago a little easier for pilgrims. According to Lea, a friendly Filipina walker we met, Dominic is the patron saint of road workers. Upon further reading we learned that there seem to be three Spanish saints named Dominic. One is our man who devoted his life to pilgrims on their way to Santiago de Compostela, building a bridge over the river Oja and curing pilgrims of ailments along the way (including one man who had eyes full of pus and resurrecting a young boy who was wrongfully hung for theft). Then there is another Dominic (of Silos) who is the patron saint against rabies, rabid dogs and insects, and for captives, pregnant women and shepherds. Then the third Dominic (of Osma) is the patron saint of astronomers, the Dominican Republic and of falsely accused people.
Yesterday we left Santo Domingo de Calzada, crossed over the renovated bridge he built and ran head-on into a flock of sheep (photo included). We stood to the side with the sheep filling the road and an aqueduct at our heels. The sheep were so close to us that Austin’s pants got smeared with sheep poo (photo omitted). We bravely walked on and on and on past little towns, old dogs, stone villages, and past hungry cats that looked like old filthy teddy bears with missing eyes, snot smeared on their faces and stuffing coming out of their seams. The landscape is less picturesque than previous days but still fascinating: rolling fields of green, yellow and brown with criss crossing electrical wires, decrepit brick buildings and giant 40-foot-tall collapsing hay bale structures.
We walked for a day with the aforementioned Lea and then met a man from Catalonia (which is an autonomous community in Spain with its own language and a capital named Barcelona) named Martín (or maybe it was Martí – we never did get clear). We had a great time walking with the two and shared a delicious dinner and an interesting tour of the Santo Domingo cathedral that housed an art exhibit. We learned about typical Catalán meals and celebrations.
Update: The Official Snoring Report – Code Red. All systems bad! We have spent multiple nights awake or in a shallow, restless, tossy-turney sleep due to some impressive specimens of sleep apnea. The snoring is out of this world. After walking for 6 hours with our packs day after day and then not sleeping well night after night we have had moments of puffy eyes and blank stares as we walk on down the road with our heads down or in a fight that today, for example, lasted 28 kilometers. That’s right – we can measure our arguments in kilometers.
As we enter villages we can often see from a distance the large stone cathedral tower of the church, often in the center of town. Often on the top of the tower is a huge bowl wreath made of sticks with a giant White Stork standing in the center. The birds are fantastically large, which is understandable considering the burdening bundles they are known to transport to expecting parents.