Stage 16, Sep 19, Belorado to St. Juan de Ortega, 23.3km, total time 6:00 hrs

After a night of rain, I was preparing to an early start dressed up in a poncho. Thanks to some powerful intervention, while I was finishing breakfast, the rain stopped abruptly and was replaced by a strong cold wind coming from NE. I wore all the warm clothes I had along, and started at about 7:40. Today I took some pictures of what I mean when I call the landscape as endless farmland.

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All around me were still unfamiliar faces, situation that was likely aggravated by the fact that I slept in hotel for two nights in a row, and hence missing the opportunity to familiarize with other pilgrims in the hostels. Despite the pain in the leg is still quite excruciating, I decided to spend the next night at the St. Juan de Ortega Albergue. Along the way I met Gaurav, an Indian guy living in Milan due to an university fellowship program, a very reserved Canadian lady, reminding me of a literature professor and a huge Australian with over 1.5m pace span. Apart from these brief encounters, it was another day of reflection spent in almost total loneliness. At the beginning I saw a guy with a little dog, whose enthusiastic jumping all around, with no worries whatsoever, was really contagious. This episode allows me to remember other guys and girls with dogs: Dirk with the dog Einstein, Christine with the dog Cariñho, and another guy with a big shepherds’ dog. Then can walk the Camino with their pet, but mist Albergues do not take dogs, so most of times they have to sleep in tents, and also carrying with them the food and needs for their animals. Christine, a slim figure, was carrying 17 kg but was it complaining that much.

Finally I managed to see Florence  who’s travelling during the night with her white horse, whose poo I noticed almost everywhere during the previous stages.

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Finally, 2-3 km before the chosen destination, the clouds broke clear.

St. Juan is s gem of a place, that was worth the day to get there.

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The albergue is hosted in the old monastery and can accomodate at least 75 pilgrims in three large rooms situated around the cloister.

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I attended the pilgrim’s’ mass at 6 pm with the blessing from the tomb of the Saint, who lived around year 1100 and helped the maintenance of the Camino for the welfare of the pilgrims. The dinner at the local Locanda was not remarkable: pretty much salad, a tuna pie, and either cheese or morcillas (sort of rice, and fried pork meat, rolled in a sort of sausage with pork blood)

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