June 6, 2012
First, thanks Michael (NOT John) and Kathryn from the OC for the suggestion of dating these entries. Here is the order of the last 4 posts: Miracle of the Cock, A Guy Called Morgan, Cheaters, and Short day. I’ll date them from here on out. I don’t always get wi-fi and sometimes I’m busy doing stuff, which makes for erratic posting.
The bags start rustling at 5:30am. I’m up and raring to go after a short walking day yesterday. Uli crawls out of bed and says she’s feeling ill and will stay a bit before heading out. I give her a hug, tape my toes, put my shoes on, and head out before 6:30am, alone again.
The sun’s not up yet and the full moon is visible above the trail ahead. It’s magical. I am walking at a good pace, passing the nice German couple who left a little bit before me. There is no one ahead of me. I cross through wheat fields, then up a rise to the top of a mesa. Windmills turn lazily in the distance and I feel like I’m on the top of the world. A little bird flitting from rock pile to rock pile ahead of me is my guide, singing about the beauty of the Way.
I hear whistling behind me. I meet Dan from New Jersey, who is walking fast. He wants to be in Leon, the next big town, over 100km from here, in two days. He moves on and runs (!) down the hill ahead of me. I stop for breakfast in Hontanas and meet David from North Carolina, who I had seen in the albergue in Hornillos. His Spanish is impeccable as he orders and I find that he’s been studying in Madrid for the last year. We share our stories, finish breakfast, and move on. My pinkies are painful, but after a while, it doesn’t matter.
The ruins of an old abby/pilgrim albergue straddle the road. I hear singing and walk in, finding David playing Spanish guitar, accompanied by a woman with the voice of an angel. The music was echoing in the ruined walls. Pilgrims can stay here if they don’t mind sleeping outside with the ghosts of those who came before.
I’m in the next town, Castrojeriz, by 11:30am and find a bar with internet. I look for my trusty guidebook, but it is not to be found! I feel like I’ve lost a limb. Bummer. I think back to where I had it last, in Hontanas. Then I realize what probably happened. Trying to be a responsible pilgrim, I pick up trash (only crinkly wrappers, not tissues) and put it in my pocket to place in the next wastebasket I come to. It was either doing this or stopping for a bush pee when I think my book fell out. So disappointing.
I text Mary to see where they are at, as I do every day since we separated. Turns out they will be staying only 10km from where I’m at now! I’m excited to see them and decide to walk for a couple more hours to meet them. There’s a fairly big hill, but then it’s all downhill from there. Before I leave town, I meet a couple of old guys who proposition me with a ride up the hill. Sadly (for them) I must turn them down and walk it myself. I pass fast Dan at the summit.
After walking 30km, I am so happy to see Mary waiting for me at the local bar in Intero de la Vega. Forgoing a welcome glass of wine, I follow her to the private albergue and get a bed (lower bunk!), a shower, and do laundry. I sign up for the homemade paella offered for dinner, but it’s not til 7pm, so we head to the bar for some vino verano (summer wine – our new favorite drink – wine and lemonade with a slice of lemon).
I get a call from Morgan, who is in Castrojeriz, 10km behind. Today he walked 40km from Burgos. He advises me that up ahead, there’s a stretch of 17.8km of Camino where there is nowhere to stay. It is 35km to get to the jumping off point for that walk, so he advises me to take two short days and begin that stretch on the morning of the third. He also has a copy of the guidebook that I lost and will bring it to me tomorrow, when we meet in Fromista, a 24km walk for him, only 14km for me, Susie, and Mary. Here are two short stretches that we can walk together!
It is nice to see Mary and Susie again. We catch up with the news of what’s been going on with our respective journeys, have a great dinner with an international group of Kim and Kim from South Korea, Sho from Japan, Patrick from Minnesota, and Steve from England. As I’ve mentioned before, many restaurants, bars, and some albergues offer a pilgrim menu for dinner – 3 courses, water, and wine for 8-12 euros, price depending on location. Always good food, but the main course is pretty much always accompanied with french fries. Today, no fries! We have homemade paella for the first course, delicious fish for the 2nd course, and a homemade quince jelly with local cheese for dessert. I then take the girls and Steve out to the bar for their first chupitos, coffee flavored this time. We will sleep well tonight!