Walking West – Look

Day 15 – Hontanas to Boadilla del Camino, 20.58 miles

Look at my friends!
Look at Santiago’s pilgrim gear, none of it practical, except the hat…
Look at me doing what I do best!
Look and listen.
Look at the beautiful end of the day…and the pilgrim laundry festooned on every available line in the sun.

I brought only one book on this pilgrimage, “How to See” by Thich Nhat Hanh. It’s a great book for this journey, measuring 4.33 x 0.28 x 6.14 inches and weighing only 2.26 ounces. The content is even better, helping me to look AND see. I read a bit daily and tried to apply what I’d read as I walked along.

Leaving Hontanas – There wasn’t much to see as we left Hontanas, it was still dark. When I walked the Camino Frances in 2017 it was mostly in June. If I recall, the sun started rising around 6:30 am and by 7:00 am, it was light enough to see and enjoy the surroundings. This time around, the walk was in September and October…the sun would begin a leisurely rise around 7:15 am and by 8:30 am or so, it would feel a little like daylight. This was dependent on the eastern cloud cover. As such, there were only a few super-early departures, 7:00 or 7:30 am became the norm.

The morning walk took us through the ruins of San Anton, Castrojeriz (stopping for coffee and breakfast), over the Alto de Mostelares, and down into Itero de la Vega. That sentence makes it seem like a quick and short morning, but from the beginning in Hontanas to the lunch stop in Itero, it was 20.3 kilometers (12.5 miles).

Water Bottle, strike 2 – My water bottle was left behind again, this time in Itero de la Vega. I had to backtrack to retrieve it, and it was right where I left it. I don’t like to backtrack on these longs days…

Boadilla del Camino – The last stretch into Boadilla was hot and dusty, it was a rough summer for much of Europe.

The struggle into town was rewarded with a stay at the Albergue En El Camino. It was one of my favorites for two reasons – one, it had a pool filled with frigid water, it was refreshing. And two, the hospitality and trust of the owner.

When we arrived, he was too busy to register us and take the money, instead he ran us to the room and then hustled back to take care of the line of waiting pilgrims. A little later on at the bar, we ordered wine and snacks. Again, he was too busy serving to take our money, saying, “We’ll take care of it later, I know you’ll pay.” He was woefully understaffed to serve the 80+ guests at his facility. Again, at the pilgrim dinner, I tried to pay, and again, he was too busy to receive money.

Later on, when the pilgrims went to bed and things settled, I went to pay my bill. The hospitalero remembered everything and we settled accounts. I could have easily chosen to “fly under the radar” and slip out on the bill in the early morning hours and he would have had no idea. In his economy, he was focused on providing the best service to me and in trust, he fully expected me (and all the others) to honor my part of the deal.

It was a living example of the Pygmalion Effect. We need more of this…

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