Sunday, November 8, 2009

From Rabé de las Calzadas to Hontanas

After breakfast at the albergue I set out right around 8 AM, just at daybreak, and the light was lovely! I was so inspired that I stopped just as I was walking out of the village to do a quick sketch of a beautiful scene of the outline of a small chapel with cypress trees around, just as the first soft, warm rays of the sun started to light up the scene. I look forward to doing a "real" painting of this scene!
I have not painted and sketched as much as I thought I would, just as I have found that keeping my blog up-to-date while walking is too difficult. First of all there is the physical factor of just being too tired, but more so it is a matter of availability of Internet that makes it difficult. Many villages does not have internet at all, or if they do, the connections are very slow, often the browsers are so outdated that I cannot even open my blog. Secondly, there are at least a dozen other pilgrims that want to get on-line also, so I don't feel it right to take up more that max 1/2 hour, so that puts a stop to many attempts to post blogs. So I have resigned myself to writing extensive notes in my journal, and then I will have a lot of catching up to do, when I have reached my goal!
I am finding that there is a lot more to write about, than I had thought when I set out - I figured "how much will there be to tell, when you just walk most of the day by yourself! " Well, a lot!
As far as sketching and painting go, I thought I would sit down during my days and sketch a lot, but even though there are certainly many, many beautiful scenes along the way, there are hardly any places that are suitable for sitting down and painting, and the thought of getting the backpack off, getting my little travel set out, and sitting on the ground or on a rock just seems too hard, and there is always the little voice saying: "Better not arrive too late, or you won't get a bed for tonight, there will only be cold water left for your shower, and everything will be wet in the bathrooms". As I am sure you can imagine, when there is usually about at least 30 people to one shower, towards the end nothing, and I mean absolutely nothing is dry, the floors are swimming, and it really is not too appealing! The Romans had this whole drain thing worked out, but somehow that knowledge seems to have been lost, since most of the showers I have encountered so far, have water running everywhere in the whole bathroom after a couple of people have showered. There is usually a mop around, but somehow nobody seems to get the idea that they are supposed to mop up the water after showering!
After walking about 8 km I reached the first village Hornillos del Camino. Along the way I walked with the Irish lady for a while, so time went quickly as we walked and talked. In Hornillos there was a little store, and I bought an apple and a banana, and then I met up with her and a Spanish guy for coffee at the cafe. I ordered a bocadillo to go, as the next stretch of 10 km only had one mid-point stop, San Bol, which would most likely be closed for the season. Later I heard it was still open for pilgrims, and it is a very special place, but I have also heard there are no toilet facilities, you "go" in the field across the albergue, and that's just pushing limits I am not ready to push! It's just too unsanitary for my taste, no matter how spiritual and wonderful the place is otherwise!
So I sat in a haystack on a field and enjoyed my little picnic lunch, resting my tired feet and bracing myself for another 5 km along the trail on the lonely and barren Meseta, which holds a beauty of its own. I walked and walked, nothing looked remotely like a village coming up, and not until about 1/2 mile from the village of Hontanas did it appear, as it was hidden in a little fold in the endless Meseta. Several times along the way I had passed the Spanish guy with the big backpack that Dorte and I had met also, and he was in a lot of pain, so as we were walking, and thinking we should see the village up ahead, he kept saying "Where is it?" and I kept telling him: "It'll be there, don't worry!" We were both happy when it suddenly appeared out of nowhere it seemed!
We both checked in to the private albergue Méson Puntido - and got the first beds - I got a nice bottom bunk by the window - my favorite spot! Then off to shower and do laundry, before it got crowded. Afterwards I walked around the tiny village and met the older German couple and several other pilgrims I have met over the last few days. I also met a nice French lady - Francoise, who spoke excellent English - she was in the same bunk room as me, and she was doing her stretches - and told me I should do stretches too! -She was right, of course, and so I did, but I must admit I have not been good about stretching, which I am sure would take some of the stiffness at the end of the day, so I really don't know why I don't do it!
Before dinner I had time to write in my journal, while enjoying a glass of wine, there was internet as well, so I did my best to catch up on emails, Facebook and Blog!
At dinner I was happily surprised as German Michael, whom I had met at my very first pilgrim's meal back in St. Jean - we were joined by the Spanish guy with the big backpack - I now finally learned that his name was Adrian - and he's a sailor, and spoke English quite well, and he is a funny guy - nursing a broken heart, I think! It was also fun catching up with Michael, I was so surprised to see him, as he walks much faster than I, but he had taken a few days off in Pamplona, LoGroño and Burgos, and he had also been sick, so that's why. I am learning that is one of the joys of the Camino - suddenly running into someone you thought you would never see again! Some days you are among all new faces, and then suddenly, like tonight, you are surrounded by people you thought you had lost!
My "bunk mate" is Manuela from Hungary, she speaks fluent German, and she is also an artist, so we had a great conversation right before bedtime about art and life. It was a great day all around with lots of great people!

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