Itero to Fromista was 15k. I looked forward to walking into Fromista because it was one of the places I stayed on my “bus tour” of the Meseta after I hurt my ankle in 2013. I had an expectation that it would be meaningful to walk into town as opposed to getting off the bus, and perhaps it might even offer some insights.
From Itero, the Camino took me out into a long stretch of farmland. I met another French guy, Jean-Louis, on that stretch and we had a nice conversation, which made the time on the flat, straight path go faster. He was walking faster, and en route to Santiago, so we said Buen Camino after a stop for coffee. I saw a Rollo or monument there, and a remarkable door to the closed (!) church.
Then I walked along the Canal de Castilla, which was a short lived transportation breakthrough like the C&O Canal on the East Coast. Now I think it’s used for agriculture. I felt a beautiful sense of solitude.
Fromista was hosting their annual Fiesta of San Telmo, who was born there in 1184 and became the patron saint of sailors. There were carnival rides in the plazas and anticipation in the air, when I arrived on Saturday afternoon. I checked into a private Albergue, Estrella del Camino, did some laundry, and went out to explore the town.
I saw the places I remembered from my stay in 2013: the plaza where Gina, my Camino friend from the beginning in St. Jean, jumped up and down and yelled when she saw me. The hotel where I holed up, the restaurant where we ate dinner. The town looked so different now that I could walk. Little did I know that there was a health clinic on the same block as the hotel.
This time I stayed in a traditional Albergue with bunk beds and a nice sunny patio where pilgrims enjoyed the sun as their laundry dried.
The pride of Fromista is the Church of San Martin, constructed in 1066. It is considered to be one of the worlds’ best examples of Romanesque architecture!
Seeing it again was like visiting an old friend. The interior is clean and spare. It’s no longer a church, which is too bad. The carvings are pure Romanesque, and reminded me this time of the carvings at the Templar Church in the City of London.
The Crucifix, from the 11thC is exquisite. I sat for awhile savoring the experience of being there again, and said thanks for the blessing of healing, and for my life.
Back at the Albergue, I met Nancy, from New Brunswick, who was in the same position I was in 2013. She has plantar fasciatis, and a sore knee. She’s traveling with her husband and two friends from home, and she was taxiing from place to place. It felt good to give her the novel I’ve been carting around. The hours are long when you can’t move, and you’re staying in a foreign country. And it’s very frustrating.
I went out again and saw this parade go by, kind of like New Orleans.
The Mass and Novena to San Telmo was at 8:00 in another beautiful Romanesque church, San Pedro. The large statue of the Saint was standing in the sanctuary in a position of honor
The church was almost full of Fromistans for the service. After the Mass the priest led a litany for San Telmo and from the back of the church a great mass of baritone voices sang the song to San Telmo, and everyone joined in the chorus. It felt like a gathering of the clans. Afterwards everyone greeted each other with hugs and kisses.
It was 9:00 so sat down for a pilgrim dinner, and enjoyed people watching. It was a good day in Fromista. I did feel a sense of completion by seeing it again, on foot.