Still feeling under the weather, we woke up to walk to Belarado-15km. An easy walk through villages every 3-5km. After a couple of boiled eggs and croissant and freshly brewed coffee we were set to leave the apartment.
The walk out of Grañón was absolutely beautiful! We were surrounded by undulating hills with wheat and some kind of pulse growing on them. Absolutely beautiful!
In about 20 minutes we reach the border, crossing from the region of Rioja into Castile Leon.
We were spoiled for places to rest, with a village or town every few kilometres.
The last 5km was a straight stretch along the main road. We were unusually tired and the heat was slowing us down.
We reached our Pension in quaint Belorado. Again, a town on the side of the hill, with an ancient beautiful church, rebuilt in the 1600s. Near the baroque altar is a statue of a saint we hadn’t seen before.
Saint Denis, the first bishop of Paris, was beheaded in that city (Paris) in the year 250. According to legend, angels accompanied him as he carried his own head from the place of execution to his chosen burial site, where later the church of Saint Denis was built just outside of Paris.
After a quick prayer to the beheaded saint, who in traditional catholic practice is invoked against headaches, we unpacked at the Pension.
Over the last four days both John and I have been feeling out of sorts. It started with colds and phlegm-y coughs. I thought it was possible that the cold morning walks followed by the walk in the sun towards noon, had caused it.
Yesterday, on reaching the Pension at Belarado, John felt worse. Our daughter Niki, 17000km away in Melbourne, sensing our sickness, insisted we visit the local hospital to see the doctor immediately.
About 300m from our Pension is the Centro de Salud (clinic), and opposite it, is the Farmacia.
Though closed at 5pm, there is a nurse and doctor on standby. The nurse does not understand Spanish, so John uses Google Translate to explain his symptoms. She calls for the doctor and meanwhile enquires if we have a European medical card. After understanding that we’re from India, she lets us know that there will be a charge for the consultation. In agreement, she asks for John’s passport and fills out some paperwork.
Dr Manuel Rivera arrives, with a halting knowledge of English. He’s young and charming and insists on speaking to John in English despite John having the entire description of symptoms down on the translate app.
Dr Rivera suggests a covid test. The nurse takes John in for a Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) and we wait outside in the corridor patiently for the result.
Through the half open door we suddenly see a frenzy of activity. Dr Rivera is now in full PPE and trying to force on a second pair of gloves over his first! We went ‘oh no’!!!
Dr Rivera comes out aiming his temperature gun, at Johns forehead. He seems more relieved than John that the temperature is normal. He calls John into the consultation room and tells him that the result for covid test is positive. He then examines Johns chest with a stethoscope, finds its clear, checks for pain in the abdomen, finds that clear and does a few more physical examinations. After this John comes back outside, while the doctor removes his protective gear. He ties it up in a disposal bag and writes out the report. He comes out with the printed report wearing the surgical mask he had on when we first met, telling John to take plenty of fluids and paracetamol if the fever comes back. He said Covid is like a flu and we have nothing to worry about. We could resume our walk as soon we felt fine. He suggested I pick up a RAT from the pharmacy and check myself.
The nurse had a couple of forms for John to sign…all in Spanish. Thanks to the Translate app, you can have the translation read to you in English. They asked us to return the next day to make the payment.
We headed back to the Pension after picking up some soupy noodles and the RAT. I’m pretty certain I didn’t do it right, as the result was negative.
I woke up this morning feeling much, much better. The fever seemed to have left John too and the throat felt slightly better. Around 10am we headed back to the clinic for instructions on how to pay for the consultation. We were directed to a payment centre about 50m away.
We rested today and we’ll probably take a day off tomorrow too. Happy to see John’s appetite back in the evening.
Another highlight of the day was bumping into another pilgrim couple on their day off too, outside the clinic. They’re French and as we got chatting, (in Johns rapidly improving French!) they mentioned they had driven (yes, they drove!) from Paris to Mumbai and back, passing through Iran and Pakistan. This was about 10 years ago in their Range Rover and they had lovely memories of Jaipur and shuddered at the mention of Delhi! Now those are new goals for us!!
Am thankful for a lot today! A shout out to St Dennis and St James for bringing us to wonderful Belarado when the symptoms peaked. A smaller village would not have had a clinic or an open pharmacy. Hugs and kisses to our Niki who senses everything no matter the distance! And lots of love to our amazing siblings who root for us, always!!