I didn’t intend to walk very far today. I left Hontanas and thought I’d walk 10k to Castrojerez and stay there for the night. The ruins of the 12th century Monastery of San Anton
were along the way, and I looked forward to spending some time exploring them. But when I got there, the ruins were all locked up. During the summer, volunteers run a primitive Albergue with no electricity , and I wanted to see it. Oh well. It began to lightly rain. So on to Castrojerez.
When I got there I had a cafe con leche in the first establishment in town to get out of the rain, and regroup. The 13th C Church of Maria de la Manzana was across from it.
But like the ruins, it was also locked up until the summer Pilgrim season. So disappointing. Met several American guys my age who are walking together, and, attempted some conversation with the proprietor and his wife, and then the rain let up. When I walked through the rest of town it was rather deserted and I didn’t feel like staying there. All the other churches were locked up, too, which was sad, because there were so many of them, one after another along the length of the town.
So I kept going. Little did I realize how far or how demanding the route would be! There are not many places to stop along the Meseta.
Just outside Castrojerez is this 900 meter butte. For some reason, I didn’t study the map. Wow!!
All I could think was, “let’s do this thing!,” It had to be less steep than the Pyrennes out of St. Jean, right?” Hmmm. I was thankful for my training the last few weeks with Janet. And a little chocolate also helped.
Here’s the view from the top:
Then the sky opened and it rained for the next hour to Itero de Vega. Thank God for Gore-tex! It was a really long 5k stretch towards the end, and I broke out the iPhone and headphones, singing along to “Sound of Music.”
Right before Itero de Vega the Camino crosses an ancient bridge into Palencia. Turns out that Itero means boundary marker.
I checked into the first place in town, and splurged on a private room. I wanted a radiator to dry out my pack. The bar was a real gathering place for the village.
There was a funeral and I caught a glimpse of the priest walking by in his chausable.
The proprietor was very patient with my Spanish. There was a 12c Church in the center of town, which I wanted to see, naturally, but he told me it was closed permanently because of termites. Thwarted again.
They served a community dinner, and I ate with a group of older guys who had met each other while walking. The proprietors wife came by with their adorable six month old son. It was a fun evening.
In the morning, I came down at 7:30 looking for coffee and found the proprietor in his bathrobe behind the bar. He told me there’s no breakfast until 8 and, “go back to your room.” OK. He said the whole town was closed until 8. I’m normally a night owl, but walking the Camino puts me in bed early. In my next life I’d like to live in night owl heaven: Spain.
Beth, you are amazing! Chocolate is an excellent motivator!
Chocolate, Gor-tex, “The Sound of Music” and your go-for-it attitude … what an unbeatable, magic combo! Sad that so many sites that look fascinating are still closed. The ruined monestary on the hilltop reminded me so much of the Peloponnese where there’s a ruin on every hilltop, (an ancient citadel, a crusader castle, or a monestary), Spain seems very similar… I remember it gave me a real haunting sort of feeling of smallness being in these huge, open, ancient landscapes that now seemed so empty but had seen so much, history, war, joy, grief, etc. “Mr. Grumpy” inn keeper was probably embarassed to be caught, in the bar no less, at 7:30 am in his robe! “Go back to your room” indeed! Can’t wait to hear what happens next. Keep on truckin’!
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