17 When in Hornillos…..

Last night I wasn’t exactly hungry, but decided to go with a couple of people to a restaurant at the opposite end of town. When I say the opposite end of town we are talking 5 minutes down the road if you walk slowly. Hornillos is exactly a tiny farm community forgotten in time.

The restaurant recommended for dinner is called the Green Tree and is owned and operated by an absolutely lovely Irish couple. Emma, the proprietress, is so sweet. She welcomes you, and she really is so warm and genuine. We got to know everything about Emma and her husband and were all hoping to meet her 21 month old son, but he was being taken care of elsewhere while Mom worked.

The menu is simply unusually wonderful. They offer a green vegetarian curry on rice, hamburgers, fish, blue cheese salads……a really wide assortment and quite remarkable compared to any of the other restaurants I have visited. Most offer a minimal meal loaded with low cost carbs and microscopic protein. The Green Tree in Hornillos is amazing.

There were about 16 of us in the restaurant and Emma apologized the live music wasn’t available tonight….and suddenly I was volunteered. Yup….did it again. (Sorry, no video recordings I am aware of) I used a ukulele they had in the back….dreadfully out of tune….but I managed to bring it back, or at least close enough to count.

After my song was done Emma sang an Irish wedding folk song. It was wonderful. I did manage to record her singing. I can’t attach sound recordings to this blog, so if you would like to hear Emma’s singing please send me an email and I will happily send you a copy.

After Emma a man from Malta, and an older gentleman from Brazil took a turn singing. I didn’t know if anyone knew what the Brazilian gentleman was singing, but he was choking up and holding back the tears.

All-in-all a wonderful evening.

The next morning comes quickly and the weather forecast is for partly cloudy skies in the morning, then clearing with a high of 28c. I set out at 7:30am, about 45 minutes before sunrise. As the temperature will be climbing all day I decide to set out in a t-shirt and shorts. I may be a bit cool first thing, but as the sun comes up I will certainly not be over dressed.

Please click on the picture above to see a panorama of the Mesaeta. (click on any picture to see the picture in full detail)

Immediately out of Hornillos there is a long uphill climb. Surprisingly my left ankle is giving me only slight discomfort. This before the ibuprofen has kicked in. What a great start to a day.

Pounding uphill for about 45 minutes has me in a full sweat. I am soaked when I come to the top. This is now officially the Meseta. It is so reminiscent of Saskatchewan….flat with some ragged gapping tears in the landscape caused by millennium old rivers. You will typically find communities hidden down in these valleys. The flat lands are agricultural and at this time in the year the harvests have been taken.

Fog seems to be rolling in on some of the lower areas…luckily I will be avoiding this….or so I think. Within 15 minutes I see the pilgrims ahead of me walking into a wall of mist….and so shortly after I am one of these too.

It’s cool in the fog, and as I am still drenched from the climb I feel the chill especially. I intentionally pick up the pace to try and stay warm. It doesn’t feel as cold now.

Manure has been spread on the fields recently. The methane smell isn’t strong…but the flies have been multiplying in reckless abandon in the fields. Therein lies the issue. Flies!

As the day warms, the sun burns off the fog, and thoughts of being chilled are distant. In the matter of 20 minutes my thermostat has done a full 180.

Around 11:30am I am walking into San Antoñ. This is a ruin of an large old church being renovated into an Albergue. My feet, and more specifically my left ankle is now killing me. I decide to walk into the courtyard of San Antoñ and meet Mark and Marion from Australia. They travel with a small burner and pot to make tea with each day. I decline their offer for a cup of tea, and decide to change into my running shoes.

The release from the pain in my ankle is instantaneous, and I am able to walk pain free. My running shoes are quite tight as it appears my feet have swollen during the morning trek…but this should also self-correct with a bit more walking.

My boots are practically mandatory in the steeper rocky climbs and descents. I may have to try and walk tomorrow in my running shoes as the path is somewhat smooth.

Coming into Castrojeriz I unexpectedly decide to enter a large church at the edge of town. I did not know they had an exhibition of artifacts on, but was delighted to pay 1 Euro to enter and spend 15 minutes walking through the displays. One figure was particularly fascinating. I do not know the significance of the Crescent below the figure….

Just before I finish today’s installment is a realization having come to me on this Camino. There is no explanation as to why I have ignored this in the past, other than to suggest I was not exposed to it.

On this Camino I have made an effort to stay in private Albergues. Without exception I have been overwhelmed by the hard work, sincere appreciation shown to every Pilgrim, cleanliness, and pride in every place I’ve stayed in. The food has been fabulous….I can’t remember the last time I had french fries on this trip, and on the last I would be hard pressed to tell you a day I didn’t. The food is all freshly prepared and very delicious.

Tonight we were served a massive salad, followed by a vegetarian paella, and a chocolate mousse. All prepared by our host….. Absolutely wonderful. A trip to Spain, traveling to different private Albergues would be an amazing way to see this country and meet the people. Holy Mud! This is exactly what I’m doing…….

Private Albergues are small business’ and are primarily family run operations. When you tell the owners how much you enjoyed your stay, or the meal….you have touched them in a meaningful way.

The Albergue I stayed in today is called Rosalia’s Albergue. An amazing 500 year old house….and in that I’ve had the priviledge to  stay here in my lifetime….I really do feel fortunate.

I am having difficulty adding photos…… I’ll add these tomorrow when I have a better internet connection.