I left at 6:45 a.m. start and talked briefly with an Irishman named Brian who had always been fascinated by the Camino. He did the last 100km in 2013, during which time he was going through marital difficulties. A Canadian woman held his hand and that was what enticed him back to complete the entire route. In the interim, he and his wife of 28 years went through a divorce; she cheated on him and refused to go to counseling, but the divorce was amicable. He said one good thing came out of his marriage: his kids.
While we were talking, we missed a fork in the path completely. A Spanish man standing in the dark along the path yelled out and pointed us in the right direction. Brian said that on the Camino angels appear out of nowhere to lead you.
There was some gossip along the Camino that Irishmen were hitting on women, spending nights with them and then disappearing; it was quite common apparently. I have no idea if that was true or not, but it was part of the Camino lore.
It was a day of black-faced sunflowers bowing their forlorn faces to the elusive sun. The path was flanked by ochre cornfields.
I had a nice chat with a man from Cologne, Germany who worked for Sprint. He said he thought Washington, D.C. was much nicer than New York; he used to live in New Jersey. Sadly, I had to excuse myself from that conversation for a nature call. 😦
I stopped at a cute cafe in Grañón for potato tortilla and café con leche and orange juice. We had to wait in line forever, but I hadn’t had breakfast so I had to wait. I liked to eat breakfast after getting a few kilometers under my belt. At the café, Shireen from Australia said the same man who directed us at that earlier fork in the path had yelled to direct her as well. We could only assume it must have been the man’s vocation to direct pilgrims at that confusing spot.
Santo Domingo de la Calzada to Grañón (6.7 km)
After breakfast in Grañón, I stopped for a brief visit to Iglesia S. Juan Bautista (Church of St. John the Baptist), and, after saying my routine prayers, sat for a while trying to figure out how to work the flash on my new Canon.
Iglesia S. Juan Bautista in Grañón (pop. 290)
I left Grañón on a hilly patchwork of farmland. It was a bit cloudy and cool, a nice relief from the heat as we left La Rioja region behind. Soon, we found a huge metal sign marking the start of the province of Burgos and therefore, of the largest autonomous region in Spain, Castilla y León. It is eleven times the size of the region of Madrid, but with a population of half that of Madrid. The ancient kingdom of Castile is named for its many castles, which sought to protect the kingdom. Fernando I established Castile in 1035, and El Cid turned the tide against the Moors from his base in Burgos in the 1090s. Castile was united with León two hundred years after it was founded under Fernando III.
This area is home to the Meseta, the flat plateau region that tests the mettle of many pilgrims. We weren’t to the Meseta yet, so we would have some time to prepare. Cereal crops abound here, mainly wheat and oats, with some sheep and goats. We saw fields of sunflowers in both areas today. We entered the town of Redecilla del Camino, where I stopped for a mango juice. Sadly the Nuestra Señora de la Calle (Our Lady of the Street) church was closed and I had to move on.
Grañón to Redecilla del Camino (3.8 km) (cross into Castilla y León)
Redecilla del Camino, with its population of 150, has the 14th century church dedicated to Nuestra Señora de la Calle, or Our Lady of the Street.
The sun came out and we continued on, but at least there was a slight breeze. I was so tired of having the pilgrim stink. This seemed widespread; it came from sweating all day and then hand washing your clothes such that they never seem to get fully clean.
Redecilla del Camino to Castildelgado (1.7 km)
We passed two more towns, Castildelgado (pop. 80) and Viloria de la Rioja (pop. 70); neither had much happening.
Viloria de la Rioja is a quaint peaceful village that was the birthplace of Saint Dominic, the famous illiterate son of this village who did so much to help the pilgrims along the way.
Castildelgado to Viloria de la Rioja (1.9 km)
Viloria de la Rioja to Villamayor del Río (3.4 km)
I booked a hotel for the night near Villamayor del Rio; I had to walk 1 km off the Camino to get to the very small town of Quintanilla del Monte. I would have to walk back to the Camino in the morning. At this point, I had 547.9 km, or 340.3 miles, to go to Santiago.
I checked in at La Aldea Encantada, run by Anna, who could speak some English, and her mother Anna, who could not. I arrived well before my backpack today, and it was frustrating asking the mother to call Jacotrans because I couldn’t communicate what I wanted. Finally the backpack arrived without her intervention. The mother made me a snack of Manchego cheese, bread, and cerveza. She also did my laundry for 6€.
I ate dinner with Vicky, the only other pilgrim staying at this out-of-the-way hotel. She was having a service transport her bags and book all her reservations ahead. She was an emergency room doctor who had just gone part time. She shared that her daughter had gone to rehab because she was drinking too much. The daughter is now finishing her Master’s in Public Health and is interested in Permaculture and feeding people properly to cut back on the epidemic of diabetes and to help them lead healthy lives. I was happy to hear how the daughter had gotten her life together; this gave me hope.
Vicky seemed to have little sense of humor, and it was strange how I felt humorless in her company. It is so strange how people affect my own behavior; I love people with a sense of humor because I feel like a funny part of me comes out. I feel depressed and too serious around people that don’t have a sense of humor. She was nice, but difficult to connect with. She told me it would probably be okay to catch a ride into town with her the next morning at 6:30 a.m.
Villamayor del Río to Quintanilla del Monte to my pension, La Encantada (+1 km off the path)
Using a sheet of paper showing all the stops along the Camino, one that I’d been given by the Tourist Information in St-Jean-Pied-de-Port, I spent the evening plotting out the rest of my Camino by distances I wanted to walk each day. I marked the distances keeping a general rule of 16-20 km (~10-12 miles) each day. I figured out if I spent two nights in Burgos, I could finish in Santiago by October 20. Then I would have time to walk to Finisterre if I wanted, although I would probably take a bus because I wanted to go to Muxia too before meeting my husband in Braga.
*Day 15: Tuesday, September 18, 2018*
*28,216 steps, or 11.96 miles: Santo Domingo de la Calzada to Villamayor del Río (18.1 km)*
You can find everything I’ve written so far on the Camino de Santiago here:
On Sundays, I post about hikes or walks that I have taken in my travels; I may also post on other unrelated subjects. I will use these posts to participate in Jo’s Monday Walks or any other challenges that catch my fancy.
This post is in response to Jo’s Monday Walk.