Today was a short one, but I wanted to set myself up for a steep and long climb tomorrow. One guidebook warns to bring water and food since the ascent can take 3 hours at a normal pace. I think I will plan on 4.
Then from what I understand, it will be a race for beds in Atapuerca which is where I planned to stay tomorrow. I can’t find any rooms except for one that is €195 and this pilgrim is not paying that much for an overnight.
The lack of beds could be due to the historical significance of this area where the oldest human remains ever have been found. Visiting the site is difficult for pilgrims since you need to buy tickets in Burgos, a short drive, but a long walk. So, all I need is a place to sleep tomorrow night as sightseeing is not in the cards. It is looking like I will be back in a bunk for the last official night on my Camino (Part 1).
There were lots of great things that happened today! It started when I woke up with no pain! No pain in my knee. No pain in my hip. No pain in my toes. That made it an easy decision to carry my pack rather than sending it ahead for a second day on a row.
Since dinner was so wonderful at the Alburgue last night I decided to have breakfast there as well before heading out. Most Camino breakfasts consist of coffee, juice and toast. Not at Hostel B! In addition to fruit salad, I had eggs (with deep golden yolks), bacon, sausage, toast, coffee and fresh orange juice.
Here is the proprietor who does all of the cooking. Clearly he adds a healthy dose of love to everything he makes and you can taste it.
Breakfast was delicious and endeared me even more to my favorite hostel on the Camino.
As I was heading out around 8:30, the hospitalaro told me about the 9am mass at the convent on the way out of town. She said that the sisters sing and it is beautiful. My initial thought was, “I am in a hurry and don’t have time for that.” But then I corrected myself realizing that I had just a 3 hour walk ahead of me and nothing else on my schedule today. Oh the life of a pilgrim!
So I headed toward the convent, admiring the fabulous street art of Belorado.
It is a charming town with a cool vibe.
Before the convent I went past a pretty fancy house with what I thought was some type of cool flower sculpture in the back yard. But upon closer observation, I realized that they were actually real sunflowers with potato and onion bags over them (I assume to prevent birds from gobbling up the seeds).
The Convent has a long history dating back to 1358 (600 years before I was born!). A beautiful pilgrim statue greets you at the entrance.
I couldn’t find any obvious way to get in and was almost ready to leave when I saw a Spaniard walking toward the building. He told me exactly where to go and I entered the church, backpack, trekking poles and all. Luckily there were a couple of other pilgrims who had done the same. Out of respect, I didn’t take any photos during the service, but did afterwards.
The sisters were inside the gates. I am not sure of the significance of the gate, but I do remember seeing a similar gate in the convent in the sound of music.
Not being catholic and not understanding a word spoken during the mass performed in Spanish and no doubt some Latin, all I could do was follow everyone else’s lead except I didn’t take communion. The singing was really beautiful and the acoustics only made it that much better.
A priest (of course) did the mass and I will make some observations about that in today’s reflection.
After the mass, I started a leisurely walk to Villafranca. It was cold so I put on another layer and put on gloves for good measure since I hauled them all the way from Vermont. As I was doing that, Ye walked up. He has been taking it easy because of an Achilles problem and I promised to give him some of my KT tape when we took a break. I was In the mood for walking solo today so I told Ye I needed a break to get some distance between us.
- As I was walking through farmland into Tosantos an old woman came from the field with a hatchet, a crate and five long sticks she had obviously cut with the hatchet. I wasn’t sure of what to make of it, especially since there weren’t any pilgrims around. I said Buenos Dias and she said Buen Camino and then started walking with me after setting the hatchet, crate and sticks on the ground. I said adios and started moving quickly but somehow she was keeping up with me. I turned around and she started talking to me I Spanish. She didn’t speak a word of English. She kept pointing toward the mountain ahead and saying photo (maybe that is English after all!). Then, I saw, in the mountain what looked like cave dwellings and some type of church. She was trying to tell me that as I walk I will go up a mountain and I should take a photo of the monestary when I get up on the hill. How sweet I thought until I noticed a car and another old woman dressed similar to the first walking back and forth across the path.
Was this some type of setup with these two ladies? I wasn’t worried because I figured I could take them both if necessary. But, at the same time I was feeling badly about having those thoughts.
As I got closer to the second woman, I saw a ladder up in the tree near her car and noticed a man in it. He was picking pears and she was directing him to where they were on the tree. The first woman stopped to talk with her and I was no longer being followed. I said gracias and continued walking feeling perfectly safe and a bit silly.
When I reached the hill the woman told me to take the picture from I heard, “Hi Robin.” It was Kate from Australia who was a bunkmate back in Orisson. She is a fit 20 something so I was surprised to see her walking at my pace.
She had stopped for a snack. I asked if we could do a selfie.
Here is the monestary built into the mountain.
The town of Tosantos was old and showing it’s age (no doubt many hundreds of years old). But it was charming just the same.
As I was walking to the next town I heard chattering behind me and guessed (correctly) that is was the group of five Spaniards that I had been seeing for the past several days.
If there was a movie of my Camino, whenever this crew walked up behind me, there would be some kind of spanish rap theme music playing. They walk five abreast, are always smiling and are chatting away. I had to get their picture.
And then off they went.
But in the next town there was a bar.
This group loves their beer so I had a chance to catch up with them. It turns out that they didn’t know each other until the Camino!
There I sat with Ye, Kate and the young Dutch girl who I also met in Orisson (darn, I wish I could remember her name). We were there for over an hour. A man from the Dutch Caribbean Island of Curicao joined us and we had some great conversation. I gave Ye the Rocktape (KT Tape) I had promised and told him how to find a YouTube video on how to use it. Kate attested that someone has taped her with rocktape the other day and her pains went away so that made Ye very hopeful. I gave Kate the rest of the strips I brought figuring I wouldn’t need it in the next two days if I didn’t need them in the first 14. I also gave her one of my Aquaclips that holds my water bottle because she was carrying her water by hand since the water bottle pocket in her pack was impossible to reach (as they ALL are).
I have had a steady diet of chocolate croissants since being on the Camino. What at home is a once in a blue moon treat, has become a staple in my diet as I burn through the calories with all this walking.
That pear in the picture?? The man on the ladder a few kilometers back gave Ye a bunch of them and he shared them with us. Delicious!
I breezed on through the town of Espinosa Del Camino
Continued on the path.
Admiring the cloud formations and coloring. I snapped several pictures to use as reference photos for painting when I get back home.
Next I came to an ancient building that at some point was a monastery. The relic (bones) of the founder of Burgos is interred there.
The town I am at tonight (Villafranca) isn’t ON the highway. The highway goes right through the middle of it!! I am staying at a Casa Rural. Stanley and Essa are here as well. The others are staying up the road in the Alburgue also right next to the highway.
I was hungry and of course, you can’t get anything to eat until 7:30 so I had a boccadillo (Ham sandwich), a couple of beers and a bag of chips around 4 and called it a night. I know I should be socializing but I am getting a real sense that my time on the Camino is coming to an end soon and I am wanting to do my own thing.
As I mentioned earlier, I was pain free today which I KNOW my mom will be happy to hear. I was so impressed with how the “voltarin cream” has been working for me, that I decided to check out the ingredients since I didn’t see the word voltarin on the tube. I wanted to stock up on several to bring home.
It turns out it is an antibiotic! So, if I use it tomorrow will it continue to work as well as it has?
I had time while walking to think about the beautiful service I witnessed in the convent. The singing was angelic, the sisters voices were soft and soothing when they spoke and it was heavenly. If you are a devout catholic and happy with the male dominated hierarchy of the church, no need to read further, but I have to share my thoughts.
The sisters were singing at 8:45 when I entered the church. At about 8:55 some guy walked in wearing street clothes and opened a door off to the side next to where I was sitting. A minute later he emerged in full priest garb and stood in the back and waited for the sisters to read a few passages. Then they opened the gates (look at the picture above to see what I mean). He entered their inner sanctum and performed the mass, gave communion to the sisters and others attending the service. Then he exited back out through the gate, and two sisters closed and locked it. The priest then went back into the closet and re-emerged as Clark Kent once again. As I left the convent, he was in the parking lot talking to someone on his iPhone.
What I don’t understand is why those devoted nuns with the voices of angles couldn’t perform their own mass. What type of message does this send to the parishioners? Especially young men and women. Doesn’t it reinforce hierarchical roles between men and women? (Not to mention why did they lock the gate after he left???)
Of course, I know that a woman can’t perform a mass (at least I don’t think so in a Catholic Church) because only priests perform mass and women can’t be priests. Then you think of all of the crazy things going on with priests around the world these days. Something clearly isn’t right in the Catholic Church!!