Most of my early morning walk was spent with Andrea from Italy. I met him the very first day in St. Jean Pied de Port (although it was his 31st day, as he had started his Camino in Paris). For the past 3 days, I have been walking with a group of 9 other pilgrims. That group was reduced to 7 as two ended their Camino yesterday. The remaining group members wanted to make an early start today. I preferred to sleep in and so did Andrea, thus we found ourselves walking partners for the first 8 km of the day. We walked from the outskirts of Burgos, passing by a prison with two water towers. We then followed a highway to Tardajos where we stopped for coffee, orange juice and a tortilla pincho.
Andrea’s break lasted a bit longer than mine and I started the trek out of town by myself. Quickly I found myself to the left of a church and in front of me, was another familiar face – Antonio from Barcelona, who also started his Camino in St. Jean Pied de Port at the same time as me. We chatted briefly about the last couple of days. I knew he had lost his walking stick about 4 days into the Camino, so I asked him where he bought his new one. He told me “No, I didn’t buy it. Another pilgrim gave it to me. She was going to leave it at the Refugio, but I say I will take it.” This is Antonio’s second Camino and he further explained that he feels like the Camino provides things for you when you need them. Maybe my Camino-karma isn’t fully stocked yet, because it was a pain to find an SD adapter for my Ipad 4 days ago. But maybe that’s just asking too much from the Camino.
Antonio is a great walking partner. He walks slowly and tells me that his right knee is his indicator. If it hurts, he knows he is going too fast. Being Spanish also allows him to throw great Camino knowledge tidbits my way every now and then. He points out a plaque with names inscribed on it, first at the Church in Tardajos and again at the church Iglesia de Santa Marina, 2.5 km down the Camino in Rabe de las Calzadas. He told me those were the names of men that died fighting for Franco during the civil war and it was easy to see where the town’s allegiances fell during that time. He thinks that Franco’s policies did not prepare Spain well for the modern age and perhaps are partly why the crisis has hit Spain so hard. I mention that the prices are low for food here – 10 euros for a 3 course dinner and 5 euros for a Tortilla Pincho, Orange juice and Coffee – he says that is because wages are so low.
Eventually we made our way down the hill named for its steep decent called “Mule Breaker”, through the town of Hornillos del Camino, then up another hill that then plateaued for 6 km. The Spanish name for the plateau is “Meseta”. All around us were piles of rocks that have been stacked by farmers concerned for the safety of their equipment and vast stretches of lime green fields.
Halfway through the Meseta, I left Antonio at San Bol, a small Albegue 5 km away from any civilization. Being in the middle of nowhere has its advantages – there were no other pilgrims checked in when we arrived. He was looking for a quiet place to sleep and he would have it. The attendant of the Albegue fired up a generator and made me a cup of coffee before I set-off for the town of Hontanas, which I reached within the hour.