Today was full of surprises! Our goal was to walk a leisurely 7 km to Buiza, a pretty little village just before the steep climb into the mountains. We would have a good night’s sleep and be fresh to tackle the hills in the cool morning hours. Instead, we are in the municipal albergue in Pajares, 22 km further along the Camino.
This is how our plans unravelled starting with our morning walk from our pension in Pola de la Gordon to Buiza. We arrived in Buiza by mid-morning and wandered around searching for the albergue. It turned out we had passed it on the way in assuming it was a school. It was once but had been repurposed when there were no longer enough children to fill it.
After wondering around the little village, we settled down to wait for the albergue to open when two pilgrims came by. It’s amazing what can be learned about a person in ten minutes in spite of a language barrier! The Spanish gentleman named Javier has a medal from the time his soccer team won in 2011. He is carrying a pack that is far too heavy but what do we know? He’s carried it on twenty Caminos! Impressive! Tania (Tatiana) is a Russian expat whose bank where she works in IT transferred her to Germany when the war with Ukraine started.
Soon after Javier and Tania left Buiza heading to Poladura, Dave and I thought we might try hiking to Poladura, too. We weren’t even half way up the hill when we turned back because of the heat. We didn’t want to risk having a medical emergency since there was no cell service so there was no way to call for help if we should need it. We waited awhile longer for the albergue to open and gave up, thinking it might not open at all.
We asked a group of locals for help calling a taxi: “Necesitamos un taxi por favor.” We had no idea at first where we wanted the taxi to take us – Poladura or Pajares – but it seemed the best choice was Pajares because of how difficult the following day would have been. Our taxi ride was a distance of thirty kilometres by road or one walking day on trails if you are young and fit. It would have taken us two days.
Here in Pajares we are making new friends with people around the world: Clarissa and Cathy from USA whom we met briefly on Day 1; Gabriella from Hungary; Jorge from Spain; and Dwayne. That is the magic of the Camino and what makes us want to return: the people, the adventure, and learning to accept changes to carefully laid plans.
As a result we missed the most scenic part of the entire Camino. Solution? Walk backward on the Camino tomorrow to see at least some of what we missed today. It means an uphill climb for seven kilometres at first but at least it will be downhill for the rest of the day.
View from the municipal albergue in Pajares
We just came back from dinner passing by some of the local population sitting in front of their simple, conjoined homes with geraniums galore socializing with their neighbours. There was always a smile and an “Hola” or a “Buen Camino” greeting or helpful directions to the municipal albergue. They knew where we were going. I love these people! So kind!