Chilly last night, but my bag and silk sleeping sack – plus a wool blanket supplied by the albergue – kept me toasty. Slept well. As I was lying on my mat looking up at the wooden beams in the white plaster ceiling I realize one thing I love about the building was that there is not a square or plumb line anywhere. The beams curve and are of different widths. The walls bulge in and out. The ceiling is lower at one end than the other. The crack under the door is wider at one end. I love the simplicity of white washed walls, natural brown beams and bright colored doors and shutters.
After breakfast at the albergue I said goodbye to Guylène who is hitch hiking back to St. Jean to meet up with Cristel and Daniel and the car the three of them will take back to Haute Savoie. I feel like I’ve known her for years, and expect that in a few years that will be a true statement.
It was light when I left, but the sun was not yet over the horizon. I had the camino all to myself for the 7 k from Tosantos to Villafranca Montes de Oca. No one visable in front of me, no one visable behind me. The only person I saw was someone one a motor bike who saw some game on the field near a woods. He pointed it out to me, but since I had no idea what I was looking for I saw nothing.
You may have noticed I haven’t talked much about grazing on grapes recently. There were two vineyards outside of Azofra 3 days ago, and nothing since. We have passed from Rioja to the autonomous region of Castille y Leon. No vineyards.
Today’s walk started through beautiful open fields. The moment the sun got over the horizon was magical. It has been a clear, cool, glorious fall day. I relished just being alone.
At Villafranca the path began up up up. Passed Michael & Lara (from Germany) sitting on a bench under a walnut tree reading their guidebooks, André, the vintner from Beaujolais was leaning against the trunk also reading her book. A local Spaniard was collecting the windfall walnuts. Still climbing passed through a forest of oaks, then pines, then a combination. The pines smelled heavenly. The sky remained impossibly blue. Because the road was not straight I was not really aware of the other pilgrams on the road, but I began to pass people I knew. At one point the wind carried Michel’s voice back to me – he was singing. (We spoke a little as I passed. He is a great fan of Charles Aznavour (and Georges Moustaki!) We have been together now everyday since leaving St. Jean. He is the first person I met while actually walking)
Down to a river, up again to emerge on a plateau. And on to San Juan de Ortega. I had planned to stop here (book said they were famous for their garlic soup), but it wasn’t even noon, my feet felt great, it was a still the perfect day for walking, so I decided to go on to Atapuerca, another 7k.
Just out side of Agés there was a little summit with a fantasic 360 degree view. Feet still felt great but getting hungry, so stopped in Agés for zumo de naranja and a sandwich (cheese and real tomatos – I sure hope the cholesteral medication is working!) There was Maarten, knee still hurting so he took a bus. We sat outside to eat and talk. He reported that a truck had stopped for Guylène not long after I left. Then the Nelson 5 strolled into town. By the time Michel arrived I had discovered that there was also wifi, so decided to stay and spent sometime today curled up in a little room with power outlets, recharging all of my devices and reading comments people have left on the blog. It is frustrating that just as I can’t post photos from my lovely little nokia phone I can’t reply to comments!
One comment was from Federico whose knee is also giving him a bad time, so he is now behind me. He has an interesting blog — Finisterre, or how I learned to stop worrying and love walking – at http://fedewalks.blogspot.com. It is interesting to compare how he and Maarten have dealt with not being able to walk because of knee injuries.
As we are closing in on another weekend more goodbyes – to Frank & Kirsten from Germany and Bertrand. Michel is still in nostalgic song mode. Tonight he was singing “ne me quitte pas” by Jacques Brel, (to Bertrand) and then went on to tell the story of how Brel wrote the song (making Nikki from Quebec translate so that Kirsten and Frank would know the story) and then he recited the words to the song line by line and made Nikki translate that.
I’ve my fingers crossed that tomorrow will be as beautiful.
3 Oct 2009