Up at 6. Michelle and I wanted to leave early because it is a 26k walk to Frómista, where Michelle is leaving the camino for this year, catching the bus back to Burgos, then trains to her homes in Burgundy & Paris. I have been with her and Michel on and off since that first foggy trek through the Pyrenees from Orisson. Out the door at 6:30. Gorgeous night. A few stars, a thin layer of clouds, but the moonlight clearly illuminated the chalky white path. It was magical. We climbed to the top of a meseta. Behind a small cluster of lights – Castrojeriz. To the south twinkling on the horizon – hundreds of red lights marking the location of windmills. Straight ahead, occasional flashes of lightning. Suddenly it was day light, and once more a world of beiges, brown, rust and green. Stopped briefly at the tiny stone Hermitage that now houses the San Tomas alberge, 6 beds. Also no electricity. Sweet little chapel at one end. Have heard about it while walking. It is a special place, “famous” for hospiteros who wash your feet, and cook an evening communal meal. Looked fantastic, but not for me today. Just beyond that an ancient bridge with 11 arches spanned the Rio Pisuerga next to a huge grove of rows of poplars whose leaves are now 3/4 yellow. Upon crossing the river we left the Castilla y León province of Burgos for Palencia. We followed the tree lined river to Itero de Vegas, where we were joined for coffee by Michel.
We left Itero to the most dramatic sky, blue with clouds to the south, black to the north with a magnificent rainbow arching over brilliantly lit golden fields. With every step the rainbow’s colors were stronger, even the violet was distinct. Then it was a double rainbow. Then I just had time to get my poncho on over my pack before rainbow and sun vanished and we were totally enveloped by black skies, it was hailing and pouring rain. The wind was howling, my skirt was soaked, there was thunder and lightning. Four of us huddled in a ditch, using a small bush and each other as windbreaks.
When it lessened enough to go on we trudged head down against the wind to the next town, Boadilla del Camino, with visions of hot coffee and a place to change into rain pants and dry clothes. As in every small town we’ve been in during the daytime, when we arrive it seems deserted.
Here everything was closed. We gave up and were heading out of town when a local man walked by. He directed us to the plaza around the church for a place for coffee. Still nothing. We were walking down the street, I looked through an open door in an otherwise nondescript wall and found I was looking at a beautiful garden – the entrance to an albergue. We presented our sodden selves at the entrance door, were warmly invited in by a very gentle, competent man named Eduardo, a native of the town who calmly proceeded to greet us (and later every other soaking pilgrim who arrived) in their native language – including dutch. Yes there was tea with lemon. Yes there was soup – garlic soup. He ushered us into the empty dining room where we barely had time to get our packs off before he returned with two steaming bowls of soup and a basket of bread. You can imagine how fantastic it was. We stayed there a couple of hours through another major downpour and were joined by Eydie and Jessie (of the Nelson BC 5), Katrina from Holland, Helmut and Hannelore from Germany who are new to the camino (day 3) and have packs that weigh far too much.
The place was fantastic, the hosts most welcoming, we considered just staying. But Michelle had her heart set on Frómista, so she can have dinner tonight with folks one last time and she won’t miss her bus which leaves at 7:30 am. Now properly attired in dry clothes and rain gear we headed out into gentle rain and intermittent sunshine on the towpath along the beautiful Canal de Castilla all the way to Frómista.
Just as you arrive in town you cross the canal on the ancient locks. Very intriguing.
One last historical treat, the beautifully preserved romanesque St. Martin de Tours church is on the same plaza as the municipal albergue, and was open and free today. Uncluttered, stone and gorgeous.
7 Oct 2009