It has been an exciting few days since I left Zamora with Peter O´Carroll. First we walked a long day of grinding up and down without much to see in the way of landscape except a very large water reservoir (artificial lake) which we walked around for hours. Finally we arrived in the town of Fantanillas de Castro where my guidebook told me to expect an albergue but unfortunately no such establishment existed. So we soldiered on for another several kms to the town of Riego del Camino for a total of close to 40 kms where indeed there was an albergue. There was some initial confusion as to whether there were enough beds for all peregrinos sending Peter and I out in the streets in a futile search for alternative accommodation. Back to the original albergue where it turned out there were exactly 15 beds for 15 peregrinos. Then the senora hospitalera warned us strongly that the single local bar would not be able to serve dinner for so many. So Phillip our man from Tunbridge Wells England who spent 13 years in Spain volunteered to sort things out at the bar and so he did and we were instructed to turn out at 8 pm.
When we arrived at this less than awe inspiring bar two very capable ladies ushered us into a backroom which was part storeroom and improvised dining room, We were served a most delicious and warming (it is cold here now) lentil soup and then pork and fries washed down with rose wine. The group which included two Irish ladies, a celebrity German lady (more later) three Frenchmen, two Spaniards etc, really bonded at this meal and we had a great time.
The next day we proceeded on for another 32 kms to the town of Tabara. This took us nine hours because we walked through some amazing scenery around a lake and river climbing eventually a very steep slope to a high point where we gazed down at as scene more reminisient of Norwegian fiords than of Spain – very beautiful! Arriving in Tabara we found a nice albergue with again exactly enough beds for all of us. And again we all ate together in a dining room of a local hotel which was very good. My first dish was a potato and ? other ingredients stew which was great and stuck to the ribs. Again another great bonding experience with our very compatible group communicating thru several shared languages.
This was where I found that we had in our midst a celebrity of sorts. Our German lady is Cordula Rabe who has lived and worked in Spain for the last 12 years. She is the author of excellent German guidebooks of the Via de Plata and the Camino Frances and is updating the former guide on this trip. So she has been a mine of information and helpfulness,
Today she advised us to travel a short distance of 22 kms to the town of Santa Croya and we wouldn´t be sorry. So we plodded on over hill and dale sometimes in sunshine and sometimes in light rain. But the landscape was dramatically different from everything I have seen until now. We are definitely entering the north as trees and shrubs abound all a very healthy green shade which suggests frequent rain. It is a welcome change. The weather is decidely cooler and we wear a couple of layers of clothing during the day and cover our sleeping bags with blankets at night.
Arriving in the lovely town if Santa Croya, Cordulla lead us to a very nice albergue Casa Anita where she was instantly recognized by the proprietor and we were recipients of great hopitality – welcoming glasses of wine, free machine laundry and much expressions of friendship. We are happily settled here for the afternoon relaxing and waiting for dinner at 8pm which will be cooked and served on the premises.
I asked about mass this evening but unfortunately the parish priest is currently on a visit to Rome and nothing doing.
Peter is leaving us tomorrow and making his way back to Madrid for a 4 pm flight on October 11th. It is not an easy journey because he has to walk 25 kms tomorrow before picking up a series of two buses and finally a train to get him to Madrid. He had enjoyed getting away from the pressures of work for this camino and I and the other peregrinos have really enjoyed his company.
That is all for now and I will post again when I can.
I walk in joy!