Santo Domingo to Belorado, 22.4km
From La Rioja into Castilla y León
For some unknown reason, I started out today in a funk, not sure what it was. My legs were strong and I had adjusted to the rhythm of pilgrim life, still, I was in a funk. And the first five kilometers of the walk didn’t help. Most of it ran parallel to the N-120 highway and was nonstop uphill, not steep but uphill all the way.
A couple of interesting thoughts early in the day. First, while walking to the side of N-120, the highway to Burgos, we saw a sign that showed: Burgos 54km
Burgos is Jimmy’s final destination. Pondering the sign, I asked a rational question, “If Burgos is the destination, wouldn’t it make more sense to just call an Uber? We could be there in 45 minutes or so. It will take three days to walk there.” Jimmy suggested that perhaps efficiency shouldn’t be the goal. Touché. I’m slowly learning to not impose my leanings/faults on this pilgrimage.
The second interesting thought was prompted by this graffiti on an underpass on N-120:Always good to consider this idea. It’s a quote from Into the Wild and maybe comes from Christopher McCandless‘ commentary on a Doctor Zhivago quote.
Between Grañon and Redecilla del Camino, we crossed from the wine region of La Rioja into the massive Castilla y León region, the largest region in Spain and the European Union. The majority of the Camino Frances is walked through this region.
Breakfast in Redecilla
In the small towns, lodging and restaurants are often found in the same building and operated by one or two people, usually family members. This building also serves as their home. It has a nice, family-oriented, small business feel. We stopped for breakfast in Redecilla and found that sometimes this arrangement extends beyond the building.
I sidled up to the bar and asked the bartender/owner if he could make me a bacon and fried egg breakfast. After his initial frightened look, he said he could. He asked me to take a seat in the patio area outside on the Camino and then he scurried out the back door of the bar and into the alley.
Ten minutes later I noticed a sweet little old lady shuffling up the street from a different direction carrying a plate. She walked through the crowd of pilgrims and straight to my table and offered up the bacon and egg plate (a proper breakfast!!!). I learned later that the bar DIDN’T have the capability of filling the special request in the morning but the owner found a lady in the town that could help out, and help out she did!
True hospitality in action!
As mentioned earlier, today’s walk was a grind for me. What made it bearable were two random conversations I had with two random pilgrims along the path.
The first one was in the morning with an older lady from Salinas, California. If you are an avid reader AND you find yourself walking with someone from Salinas, California, there is only one thing you can talk about, or should I say, one person – John Steinbeck.
We whiled away the kilometers talking about the characters and intricacies of each story and both concluded that East of Eden was our favorite of all. Any good conversation about East of Eden will naturally evolve into a discussion of faith. Ours did and we both agreed that it was a good thing to be able to walk in Spain and talk about Steinbeck and faith and what it means to live in the mysterious (and good) favor of the Divine.
The second conversation happened in the afternoon during the final stretch into Belorado. It was with a 20 year old guy from one of the Scandinavian countries, I don’t remember which. He was what I would call a peaceful anarchist. He was walking the Camino and playing his violin for money in all of the town squares he came to. He was also a responsible anarchist, when he runs out of money, he returns to his home to work and earn for his next adventure. He was a very intelligent and free-spirited kid, we had great conversations. We also got the bonus of hearing him play his violin at night in the main Plaza of Belorado!
We spent a pleasant evening in the main plaza of Belorado – good food, good wine and the pleasure of watching 30 or so local kids playing soccer in the plaza! Later on, we heard the Peaceful Anarchist playing “Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee” on his violin.
In case you were wondering, I made it through the funk.