Three Days of Adventures on the Camino

 

On the Camino

On the Camino

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

Monday, May 19, 2014

Sitting here on a dusty plastic bench beside the wide-open doors of the albergue in San Juan de Ortega (population 24), I’m slightly warmer than a Popsicle. The wind and dust blew fierce for hours today while we pilgrims trudged 24 kilometers (15 miles), most of it up and down mountains in the province of Castilla y León. The rainstorm that just came through hit hard and fast, leaving the temperature in this ancient albergue even colder and all the hand-washed clothes pilgrims had hung on the patio wetter than ever.

At least there’s enough natural light by the doors to see my frozen fingers. There’s also an electrical outlet where my phone is charging. In the dorm rooms with rows and rows of bunk beds, it’s as dark as inside the old church next door. Supposedly, there’s internet access, but I refuse to go to the hut across the way and pump euros into the computer.

I would have walked on to the next town, but my feet ruled out that idea. It’s probably just as well, given the rain. Instead, I ran into Paco, a barcelonés (from Barcelona) I’ve gotten to know on the Camino. After showering off layers of dust, I met him for a 3:00 lunch at the only restaurant in town.

After ordering at the bar, I joined Paco and a couple of madrileños (from Madrid). I told them I’d ordered morcilla de Burgos since I’d never eaten it and added, “That’s chorizo, right?” The laughter wasn’t a real positive sign. I’m glad I can say I’ve eaten morcilla, but is don’t see this pork blood sausage becoming a regular part of my diet.

Monument at unmarked mass graves

Monument at unmarked mass graves

The most somber moment of the day came on a lonely, wind-whipped mountainside where a monument explained that during 2010 improvements to the Camino, two mass graves were disinterred with over 130 bodies, unsettling remainders of this country’s not-so-distant civil war (1936-1939).

 

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

After an overnight stay at the modern 7-story albergue in Burgos and a moving Pilgrims’ Mass at the beautiful Santa María Cathedral, I began the day’s walk with Paco at 7:00 am. I was ready for the predicted rain when it started at 8:20, sheathed in my bright yellow poncho. It was still coming down an hour and a half later as our sorry string of drenched pilgrims straggled into tiny Tarjados, cramming the only open restaurant in sight.

The wind had ripped my $5 poncho early on. I came into town holding the torn side with one hand and the too-loose hood with the other. From the hips down, I was soaked. The temperature was around 50 degrees.

Restaurant employees said a bus to Burgos would be coming soon, exact time not known. After a fast good-bye to Paco, I was out the door. Before long, I was back in downtown Burgos, three hours of walking undone. Two hours later, I stepped out of a taxi in front of the Tajados restaurant, sporting a very stylish and sturdy 38 euro (about $55) poncho. By then, the sun was shining. I pulled out my sunglasses and discovered they had broken.

The remainder of the day’s walk was a muddy, windy, lonely affair. Nine kilometers (5 miles) later, I learned there was no room at any of the three lodgings in Hornillos. The woman at the albergue said the next town’s albergue  was also full, but someone from the albergue two towns down the road was coming for three girls waiting in the plaza. I found the girls, who I’d already met and joined the waiting.

When a woman came to pick up a couple standing nearby, I started asking questions and soon joined the Australian couple on the way to what I first thought was a hotel. It turned out to be El Molino en el Camino, a beautiful casa rural in the country where Mila, the owner, rustled up a quick late lunch for me. While I ate, ducks wandered the grounds, a peacock flapped up on the roof, a turkey came by. I had a long shower in a bathroom all to myself. I joined 12 other guests for a gourmet dinner. Tomorrow after breakfast, we’ll be transported back to Hornillos and the Camino.

The craziest part of this story involves Martin Sheen, who starred in The Way, the movie about the Camino. Years before the movie, directed by his son, Emilio Estevez, Sheen was walking the Camino for real with his grandson, and they spent a night here. The grandson hit it off with Mila’s daughter and ended up marrying her here. Today, they live in Los Angeles and Mila proudly displays the autographed posters from the movie.

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Please excuse the lack of italics and photos and other strange things. I can’t get my iPad to do any more.

Stats:
After 14 days on the Camino, I’ve walked 309 km. (192 mi.)
480 km. (298 mi.) to Santiago

 

Thursday, May 22, 2014

This morning, we were driven some 15 minutes from the Molino on the Camino and dropped at a point on the Camino beyond Hornillos around 9:10. The elderly driver suggested we walk further down and proceed along the narrow highway. In a rush and unsure about the advice, I set out on a very, very muddy Camino. Bad, bad choice. My boots soon felt like led. The rain was slow, but the wind was biting.

I guess I’m glad to be in a “hotel” now in Castrojeriz. My room has a private bath, but I’ll share it with three more pilgrims. There’s no heat, and after showering, I put on the only clean clothes I have left–shorts and no socks, a sleeveless top with the light hoodie that needs to be washed. Along with other folks,I’m hanging out in the one area of the hotel where there’s wifi. The clothes I left to have washed and dried two hours ago are still sitting behind the bar, a fact I just tried to politely mention, along with the lack of heating in the room. The employees assured me the heat is working in the room. Tomorrow’s forecast: rain.

Comments

  1. C Nickels says:

    You ROCK!

  2. Barbara Zito says:

    Thanks for your detailed comments; feeling the joy and pain with you.

  3. So sorry about the miserable weather, Leslie. How are your feet doing? I’m anxious to see you and talk to you in Quarry Park about your experience. I saw Liretta this morning when I was walking Ricky and Lucy and she gave me your website info. It’s great reading. Buen Camino.
    Joanne

    • Leslie Patiño says:

      Hi Joanne, my feet are doing okay now, but the first couple of weeks that wasn’t so true.

  4. Hi Leslie,
    I love being on this trip with you as I sit comfortably on my bed sipping a cappuccino that my husband brought to me while I work on a laptop wirelessly wired to wifi. The traffic below my window on a busy street in San Francisco muffles any possible bird calls.
    I particularly enjoy the way you are traveling in “free fall” and what wonderful things show up for you because of it.
    This trip will change your life as you know it. How exciting!
    bon courage,
    Joanna

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