Day 4 was slated to be a big one. It was our longest distance so far (over 24km) and there was a big climb up the Hill of Forgiveness.
We got up and packed while Finn slept in a little and then had complimentary breakfast and plenty of coffee at our albergue. We said our goodbyes and headed out the door just in time to walk with a wave of pilgrims.
We were waking up a bit tight and sore from the day before, so it took a few kms for our muscles to work themselves out. Once we hit our stride, we kicked it in gear. Finn was a happy camper and it felt like we made it to the Hill of Forgiveness pretty quickly to begin our climb. The legend is that if a pilgrim died while climbing, they were forgiven for their sins. Hence: Hill of Forgiveness. It wasn’t an easy climb at all and we got progressively colder as we went up. It was SUPER windy so that wasn’t helping. We bundled up Finn and put our coats on. The rain cover over the backpack helped block some wind on Finn, but he HATED it, so we kind of took it on and off to keep him warm/happy.
He started to get a bit fussier as we went up, so superhero Paul ran a little and bounced Finn around. I was in the back huffing and puffing and just generally being a wuss. Some things never change.
We made it to the top and the view was incredible. We took some pictures and briefly talked about joining in on a mass that our friend Father Smith was celebrating, but decided that it was far too cold and windy to stay up top for long. The descent was a little steep and rocky, but altogether not too tough. Once we got a good ways down, we ate lunch as we walked (Finn was asleep…No stopping!!).
The rest of the day was just loooonnnggggg. We began really doubting the km markers along the way. Like, you’d see a marker that says the next town will be in 4km and it felt like we’d walk 2 hours before we got there….and there is no way we were going THAT slow. Towards the end of the day, we ran into our friend Father Mark and we took turns encouraging each other to finish. At some point, we saw the sweetest looking old man standing outside an albergue and we were SO relieved thinking we had made it. Unfortunately, as we talked to him, we found out we were still a few km from Puenta la Reina. UGHHHH. So onward we walked.
We finally made it to town and got to work finding a place to stay. There were no private rooms at the albergue, but the hosts directed us to a hotel rural in town. I stayed on the street/sidewalk (they’re all the same there) with Finn where he again, posed for pictures, high-fived pilgrims, and showed tourists how not to use a walking stick before I took the stick away.
Our room was a little pricey, but included breakfast and dinner so it ended up being, on average, one of the most affordable places we stayed. Paul went out for his post walk treat of beer, gassy water, and jamon. Unfortunately, we kept ending our days right at the beginning of pesky siesta so he had to walk a bit farther than normal to find a store that was open. The pilgrim schedule is a bit different from the typical Spanish schedule.
After showering, resting, snacking, and doing laundry in the sink, we went downstairs where we found some other pilgrims having a drink so we relaxed with them…as much as one can relax when the street and the sidewalk are the same things and you’re sitting in it, so, therefore, your kid is basically playing in traffic. Yikes.
Ok, it wasn’t that bad, because there weren’t that many cars and they drove about .5 miles an hour so there was plenty of time to scoop up Finn. And, before you think I’m a completely derelict parent, its what the locals were doing with their kids so its all good.
After we regained some energy, we walked around town slowlyyyyy because we refused to put Finn back in a backpack. We found a grocery store and stocked up on some more baby food for Finn and snack for us before doing some more touring. There were two old beautiful churches in Puente and we missed the memo on which one mass would be in. So, we went to the wrong one, missed mass and called it a day. Sometimes we lose.
But dinner at our hotel was great. We ate with and got to know Father Smith while a sweet lady from Ireland who was walking with her college-aged son and husband took Finn to look at some pictures of horses in the windows outside. Which was AWESOME! Bless her heart, she started to worry that I would worry (not on the Camino…he was already spending most meals wandering around to all the pilgrims tables) so she kept him for a blessed 5 minutes. He also started to uncontrollably freak out when he saw a picture of a horse because he was still scared to death of horses. But, really, its such a weird “camino” thing to just tell someone who you just fine that it is totally fine to wander around a foreign city with your kid. Oh well!
In the end, Puente was one of our very favorite stops. We felt like we’d begun to hit our stride on the Camino. We were settling into a little routine that we loved in its simplicity. Wake up and walk and sleep and do it again.