Castrojeriz to Fromista – 25 Kms, 35,883 steps
I set off this morning fully prepared for the long day ahead of me. After a quick breakfast of cafe con leche and a chocolatine at my hostel, I started out along the Camino. This meant a 25-minute walk through the rest of the town. It appeared that I didn’t miss much by not venturing further into town the previous day.
At one point I passed an ossuary, a “bone repository”, where disinterred bones would be placed to make room for new burials in the church yard. So much for the sanctity of burial.
Before long I was joining others for the long, steep climb out of town. If you zoom the following image, you can see the trail top in the upper lefthand corner. Every now and then I think I see Grace or Wendy up ahead of me – if you’re reading this, ladies, you are missed.
And so another day of walking on the Meseta unfolds. One thing I haven’t mentioned before is the flies. Maybe it’s Spain’s policy on toxic pesticides, maybe it’s endemic to the rural areas I’m going through, but whatever the cause, there are just a lot of flies. Black “house” flies. And not just outside; the absence of window screens and air-conditioning means that doors and windows are frequently open. Hence, there are a lot of flies in restaurants, in rooms, in everywhere. I’ve taken to wearing a pretty strong bug repellent while walking, otherwise I’m spending half my time waving flies away from my face.
About two hours after leaving Castrojeriz, I headed down from the plateau towards Itero de la Vega. The angle of the descent was severe.
At the bottom, I wound up walking with a fellow I’d met at breakfast this morning. Renato is a 59-year old gent from Geneva, Switzerland who started walking months ago from there, got to Saint Jean Pied-de-Porte in France, and was diagnosed with a stress fracture of the hip! He had to go home to get treatment and rest for a few months. Now he’s resumed his Camino and we spent a few hours walking together discussing, of all things, Classic Rock music. He’s an amateur jazz piano player and a huge Pink Floyd fan. He’s also about 6’ 6” tall; a big fellow. We discussed many things, including the return of vinyl and how grotesque the aged Rolling Stones look on stage now. It was nice to chat with someone and I’m sure our paths will cross again.
Itero de la Vega is a tiny town, population 50, and exists these days primarily because of the Camino. After walking 11 Kms, I entered the town and soon walked right by the albergue I was supposed to stay in tonight. It was closed up tight and there was no announcement or notice posted on the door about the owner’s death. I went by at 10:30 AM and I wonder if anyone coming along later, unaware of the situation, might have hung around waiting for it to open in the afternoon. It seems kind of irreponsible not to alert people who’ve made reservations that it’s closed. Oh well, I had a cup of coffee in town and set off on the second half of my walk.
The sun came out and the temps went up and the next few hours, walking to Boadilla, were less pleasant than in the morning. The rocky path surface, while flat, was difficult. Then all of a sudden I found myself walking beside a large, tree-lined canal. What?! This most unMeseta-like feature ran on for miles and reminded me of the old C&O canal outside Washington, D.C. I was very grateful for the shade.
Apparently, the canal not only provides irrigation water to fields but is also an opportunity for canal boat rides. I’m sure we pilgrims are a phenomenon pointed out by the guide; the passengers all waved at me enthusiastically and called out “Buen Camino” as the boat passed.
I was very glad to reach my hostel, at about 1:45, and the landlady was true to her word: she had a two-night room all ready for me. I did my pilgrim chores (check-in, shower, laundry) and had lunch next door. I’m on a street with half a dozen albergues and hostels and lots of restaurants and cafes, so there’s no shortage of services for pilgrims.
So, how did I feel after 25Kms in the sun? Well, by the end of the day I was really tired and starting to get sore. I did some stretches but still felt like I’d been hit by a bus. But I slept soundly knowing I had a rest day in front of me and woke up the next morning feeling much better. Tomorrow: nada! I don’t have to go anywhere or do anything; what bliss.