Camino 2017 – Day 2 – Hontanas to Boadilla del Camino – September 6th
Still hot…and onto an oasis!
Most pilgrims don’t know where their day (or feet) will take them, but I knew from the off that today would lead me to a small town in the meseta called Boadilla del Camino. The town might not have much to offer but one of its albergues (En El Camino) is enough reason to walk a whole Camino. I’ve stayed there a few times before and Eduardo provides all you seek in a hospitalero. It is a mini-oasis.
But anyway..back to the start of the day. It was promised to be hot today so I woke early and gathered my things. It took a while to find the door in El Puntido but after much searching, I discovered it at the back of the albergue. After some fruit, juice and a breakfast snack, I was on my way. The albergue was starting to rise by the time I left, however I was the first to leave. This tended to be a common theme throughout this year’s Camino! This morning was cold as the sun was not up and my fleece and buff helped me warm up for a few hours. I said goodbye to Hontanas for another year and made my way off road, along a trail to the right of the road. It leads up a hill and away from the road but all I had was a torch to guide me. This would be my Way for the next hour or so. I didn’t meet a soul but I did see some lights flickering behind me – other pilgrims.
The sky was clear and the moon was almost full. The moon hung in the sky like a pale disc showing me the right direction. GPS is over-rated, right? It wasn’t long before I was back on the road and approaching the ruins of the San Antón hospital. I have passed these ruins a number of times before and each time it was daylight. It was a pity that there was no light to see such beauty. A refugio has been re-opened in the last few years and I kept an eye out for Adam in the event that he stayed there the night previous. There was no movement, so I marched on to Castrojeriz, the next town. I might see him again somewhere down the Camino. Castrojeriz is another town that needs light to fully appreciate it, as it is based on the side of a hill. There were no cafes open as I passed through it, however many pilgrims were leaving their albergues. I took a rest and some water before leaving the town. The sun was peaking over the horizon so I threw my pack over my shoulder as I wanted to be at the top of the upcoming Alto de Mostalares to watch the sun rise over the town of Castrojeriz.
Leaving Castrojeriz, you can see the upcoming climb and it is not easy. Slow and steady is the advice given. I’ve made this climb twice before and you would think that I know this stretch inside-out. I do. However, the urge is there to push forward. I meet Jo-Jo from the US. She is taking her time after her stay in Castrojeriz. Surprised after hearing I started in Hontanas, she asks what I had for breakfast!!! Just some fruit and energy, I tell her jokingly. I stay with her until we reach the top. Every minute or so, we turn back to watch the sun rise behind us and above Castrojeriz. What a sight! Ahead of me are pilgrims from Korea, France, Spain and Holland, all starting their day from Castrojeriz. The Alto de Mostelares was conquered..eventually and I stop for a few minutes to gather my thoughts and chomp down a donativo banana lying on a table with other fruit and drinks.
I say “see you on the trail” to Jo-Jo and walk on, with renewed energy. Now is the gradual descent from the Alto. Not as tough as the incline but me and descents don’t see eye-to-eye! I’m back to walking solo for an hour or so as we come close to the province of Palencia. The sun has risen and the temperatures are climbing at this stage. Either side of me are fields of sun flowers, with the odd haystack. All I do is put the head down and walk on with a smile on my face.
I meet Susan from Oregon. She was walking super-slow and I saw this as a chance to bring the pace down. I hadn’t had a good conversation since meeting Adam the day previous. She had plenty of time ahead and was in no rush. It was still morning and we passed Itero de la Vega talking about our respective lives. She was fun and had a dry wit about her. She loved the Spanish people but it was good to speak to someone with good English. It wasn’t long before the old chestnut question was asked. “What has you out on the Camino?”. I usually give a short and simple answer to that question, but for some unknown reason, I told her what I was hoping to gain from this Camino. I mentioned that I had a disappointing year and I had a few questions that needed answering. I went on to talk to her about my epilepsy and the option of surgery had been put on the table. This filled me with a lot of fear naturally. I wanted to be pointed in the right direction. The great thing about the Camino is you will get a straightforward answer from any person you meet – without judgement. She gave her opinion and what I should do, which I truly appreciate and lifted a lot of weight from my shoulders. I talked to Susan for one hour and never saw her again. But I will remember her for her honesty and humour. Buen Camino Susan. It was now time to pick up the pace.
It was close to 10.30 at this point and a long straight path was ahead of me before reaching the next town – Boadilla del Camino. There was nothing out of the ordinary to see – the meseta is pretty monotonous but I had time on my hands and I kept walking westward. The path was difficult to walk on however, with many stones and it was far from level. I felt pain toward the side of my heel. Whatever it was, it could hold out until I reached Boadilla. This was probably a bad decision in retrospect. I arrived at my end point – Albergue En El Camino at 11.30. I was delighted to be here after 29km and see the hospitalero, Eduardo, again. From the outside, it doesn’t look welcoming, but inside, the pool, bar and great food are enough reasons to stay.
After settling in and getting my clothes washed, I checked my heel. As feared, there was a large blister after forming. Out with the needle and thread, germoline and plaster. I should know better hmmph! I had no other problems to contend with I was happy to say.
I met quite a few fellow peregrinos today – 2 Irish guys from Co. Carlow. Both were travelling separately but were remaining in contact through Whatsapp. I also met a couple from Perth in Australia, a German brother and sister, 2 Swedish girls and one Australian girl who cracked me up many a time. Laughter is the best medicine eh? I saw Jo-Jo again after our chat on the Alto de Mostelares. It was really the first day I got to know many peregrinos. A community dinner was served at 7pm and I headed to the sleeping bag shortly after.
I can’t say enough good things about our host, Eduardo. He is never still and always has a smile, no matter how busy or stressed he is. I managed to get a selfie with him toward the end of the night. I hope to see him again soon but I hope to see some of my new friends sooner. Tomorrow was approaching and I was left with 2 choices – Villalcazar de Sirga or Carrion de los Condes. I will let the feet decide when I wake tomorrow.