Today was a bit of a working day on the Camino, but still really enjoyable.
Even in our lovely monastery room there was washing that had to be done. But I’m sure we were not the only pilgrims over the last 1000 years to hang up our socks to dry.
We started out into a strangely blue dawn and had breakfast with a New Zealand couple we have bumped into repeatedly. Then we proceeded oit of town over Santo Domingo’s bridge. The saint, who a lot of things around here are named after, is our current favourite because he actually went about building things, and many of those things have lasted. He gets conflated with the chickens in the iconography, but he was really a pretty sensible saint and probably would have been more at home coming up with a way of roasting one then pretending it was resurrected.
The walking for the first while was again through sweeping vistas of wheat fields, this time broken by huge fields of sunflowers. The sunflowers are all in stages of dying off and, depending on your moment of whimsy, look like rows of penitent school kids, or vast sweeps of shower fittings.
Along the way we caught up with a lovely American couple we’d lost touch with five days ago. We walked together and had a coffee and then they went off while we had a Zoom call with the kids in Australia. The constantly shifting cast of people you meet along the way is making the Camino a joy.
That said we did also discover something about the two most annoying people we’d come across. One is a Texan who walks along sharing his music loudly with the world. The second was someone using a drone and buzzing the track – we thought that was a Korean person. Today we realized that it was all the Texan.
There was an exciting sense of motion as we officially left the province of La Rioja behind and moved in Castillo y Leon. Once again the noticeable difference lay in the change to the Camino signage – which is now less pretty but extremely effective.
We stopped again another 3km on for a coffee and to visit a church with a 900 year old Romanesque baptismal font – imagine how many kids have cried over that bowl over the years.
From there the path either paralleled or was directly beside a main road. And there was a vicious, desiccating, head-wind. The views were nice but broken by electricity wires and the ever-present road. We stopped beside a church in Saint Domingo’s birthplace and had an apple under a chestnut tree. On we went, past a group of workmen grilling red peppers for their lunch.
We came to poor Villamajor del Rio. This town is not big, has no river, and lives up to its reputation of smelling strongly of cow dung.
Another 5km into the teeth of the wind beside the road brought us to Belorado and our hotel for tonight. Our priority after a quick shower was the pilgrim menu. These menus have proved amazing. For 13 euros, say A$20, you get a tasty three-course meal and bread, a bottle of wine and water. We continue to be blown-away by the quality and price of food and drink in Spain.