15th Day: Hontanas to Fromista

The morning passed by quickly, even though last night didn’t. After going swiftly to sleep, I found myself awoken 45 minutes later by a bit of a commotion. An unlucky pilgrim had a bit too much to drink and had lost his dinner all over the backpack of a Norwegian man while attempting to make it to the small window at the end of the 14 bed dormitory. At first I didn’t know what was going on, but when the smell of partially digested San Miguel wafted up to my bed and I heard the women from Slovenia say “its all over your clothes and boots. You need to put it in the wash” I put two and two together. These things happen (I have been there before… maybe not exactly in that situation) and none of the pilgrims complained, most just gave a chuckle and some even helped mop up the mess.

Before starting off this morning, I had a short five minute chat with a man from Denmark, who for the life of me, I can’t remember his name. He worked at a shipping company and had spent time stationed over seas in Bermuda and Malaysia before retiring in 2007. He had started his Camino only 12 days earlier and was faster than me due to completing 50k by bus. His reason for doing the Camino was simple enough – he had run out of things on his bucket list to do. After he did skydiving and Kilimanjaro last year, he began a search for similar trips and finally happened upon the camino.

After the initial five minute chat, I started the walk out of Hontanas and was by myself for the first 14 of today’s 35k. It was great to walk by myself at a slow pace, stopping often to take pictures, especially at San Anton, a small 12th century monastery that is partially in ruin and while approaching Castrojeriz, a town of 900 that includes a trifecta of churches, one set up on of a hill that is in ruin and two flanking it in the town below. Unfortunately, I made a switch in my camera settings today to only take RAW photos, not knowing that my IPAD can only display the jpegs. Thus I have around 80 pictures that I can’t review and post today.

During the walk, I also had time to reflect and remembered a conversation that I had yesterday with Antonio. Some pilgrims get made at those that party or take buses. I have heard people whisper the dirty word “tourist” when observing the actions of other pilgrims. Yesterday Antonio and I came to the conclusion that it doesn’t matter if you take a bus, or use the camino to party or really for any reason at all (Antonio told me there are even some people that come for Camino flings). The Camino has evolved into something different than it was during the Middle Ages. Everybody’s camino is their own and who is to say that one person’s experience is more valuable than another. Maybe the person that takes the bus has a life changing experience and the hardy pilgrim that walks 800 kilometers goes home unchanged. We decided there is neither a “wrong” or “right” pilgrim.

After Cartrojeriz, I climbed up a steep hill for thirty minutes. On top, you have a great view of Catrojeriz and the hill it sits upon behind you and a view of the sweeping and seemingly never ending Meseta (plateau) in front of you. After a flat and windy walk for 4k, I came upon a man providing water, beer, orange juice and fruit to passing pilgrims basically in the middle of nowhere. I was 8k from Catrojeriz and Itero de la Vega, the next town on the Camino, was still 4k away. I asked if he had any “Bocadillos” or sandwiches. At first he said no, and then changing his mind, ran to his car and pulled out a U shaped Chorizo sausage, a block of cheese and a baguette. After eating 6 or 7 slices of both cheese and chorizo, I threw about 4 euros change into a wicker basket as compensation. He was operating on a donation only basis.

I finally arrived at the municipal refugio in Fromista a couple of hours ago. The showers are warm, but the women’s bathroom was closed for repair (I was told a woman ripped the shower head off the wall yesterday and now if anybody uses it, the whole place will flood) and they don’t have a kitchen. Thankfully, they, like almost all Refugio’s nowadays have Wifi. I was told by a fellow pilgrim while walking the last kilometer into Fromista, that when she did the Camino last year, not nearly as many places had Wifi. It seems that the Camino is evolving in a number of ways to meet the demands of the modern pilgrim.

Update: I was able to pull the pictures from the SD card.

Hontanas early in the morning

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San Anton Monestary

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I wasn’t sure which Americans they meant (north or south) so I didn’t take offense

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Iglesia de Nuestra SeƱora del Manzano in Castrojeriz

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At the top of the hill, looking back at Castrojeriz

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Cutting chorizo

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Almost to Fromista

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