Day 9 – To Villamayor de Monjardin

Lorca to Villamayor de Monjardin, 14 Kms, 27,379 steps

I spent last night in really fantastic casa rural in Lorca. This is a class of self-catering tourist accommodation, usually belonging to an association and meeting specific (high) standards.

Casa Nahia in Lorca is stunning, as you can see here: , and I slept very soundly. Not your typical Camino accommodation.

Walk tall and cast a long shadow?

The next morning I was off to Villamayor de Monjardin, a hill town, where I balanced my Casa Nahia stop with an entirely different experience.

Villatuerta’s local Camino route markers

Today’s walk took me through more farm fields and along shaded riverside paths. Temps climbed during the morning and it was beautiful but in the low 80s when I got to the town of Estella.

Several well-reviewed places to eat, cited in the Brierly guide, were gone or closed, so I had a snack at a local gas station, a sort of Spanish Sheetz. Not too healthy but no one said anything about me being in there with my backpack and hiking poles.

Red peppers hung out to dry

I passed by the Irache Monastery’s Fuente de Vino: a couple of spigots in the wall of their winery offering free wine to passing pilgrims. A gaggle of young folks was excitedly helping themselves, but it was 10:30 am and a little early for me.

I finally made it to Villamayor de Monjardin, with its 12th century church and tower. This is a small town. One bar (no food), one tiny convenience store, and no restaurants. There’s one normal albergue and one, run by a Danish religious order, called Oasis Trails, where I had booked a room. I had read a few online complaints about overzealous proselytizing but, to be fair, I encountered none of that. The three-person staff was welcoming and friendly, if somewhat disorganized.

Old and new in Villamayor de Monjardin

However… my stay was a nightmare. The building is 400-years old and its facilities are just not sufficient for the number of pilgrims they take in. I had a private room on the top floor and banged my head into the ceiling beams three times, cutting my scalp. The top of the door frames came to my shoulder! I spent half my time bent over at the waist. Twelve people shared a single small bathroom and small sink, and a separate phone booth-sized shower. The shower had no temperature controls and you pressed a button repeatedly to get 20-second bursts of water. The room furniture was minimal and the mattress weak. No WiFi inside, unsecured (really?) WiFi in one corner of the courtyard. And, the church bell rang the hours throughout the night. My advice to anyone thinking of staying in this town: plan to keep on walking!

And you thought the Camino was nothing but glamour.

So, I scrounged up lunch and skipped dinner (the albergue offered dinner but I wasn’t inclined) and I didn’t get much sleep. And I banged my head again. Whoopee.

Unsecured WiFi is not uncommon, by the way. Seems ridiculous in these times that such a basic service isn’t offered correctly. I use several strategies to secure my comms and avoid unsecured networks altogether. This post, for example, was delayed a day due to the lack of secure WiFi at last night’s Albergue Horribilus.

Geezer bicycle brigade on parade

Tomorrow, I have a shortish walk to Los Arcos, almost all of it downhill, and I look forward to staying in a decent pension tomorrow night.

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