DAY 5 30 May 2015 a day off in Sahagun.

Our day began after a lovely sleep in with Rod giving up on the coffee machine in the “do it yourself” breakfast room. Instead he ran down the street to a nearby restaurant and came back with a tray complete with china cups of coffee and complimentary churros.( Spanish donuts). It seems the locals are not surprised at anything a pilgrim does😊
During our lazy breakfast just off our square, we realized that people were setting up for the weekly town market. After wandering over to the cathedral to get our credencials stamped and going by the post office for postage stamps, we spent the next few hours wandering the market. Rod purchased sausage, cheese, olives, cherries, nuts and raisins ( all local products). Delana bought two scarves to jazz up her pilgrim “look” and a few things for grandchildren. It was such fun seeing all the families out. We seldom see children about in the small villages we pass through—most of the young families have out of necessity migrated to more urban centres. These small villages have buildings of bricks and mortar alongside mud and straw pueblo like structures. Somehow they do not appear discordant together. There is a quiet sadness to see the neglected and unused playgrounds, though. If it were not for the economic benefit of Camino pilgrims passing through, it is doubtful these semi abandoned villages would survive.
There is a uniqueness to some of the old buildings in Sahagun. It is claimed Sahagun was the origin of mudejar architecture. Before the Spanish Inquisition a sizeable population of Christians, Jews, and Moors (Muslims) lived here relatively peaceably. The architecture became a blend of Romanesque, Middle Easter and North African styles—mudejar.
Tonight was the final evening of a month long “Pintxos Crawl ” where each Fri and Sat various pubs and restaurants offered 1 Euro pintxos as long as you also purchased a drink. Patrons were given a little book in which to collect a stamp from the different places. This week those with completed books are entered in a draw for a trip and 200 Euros spending money. We participated by going to the two restaurants near our hotel for a pintxos dinner.
Next weekend is the local bullfight here which we are happy to miss. Bull fighting had been banned in some areas of Spain from 2010. In 2013, the Spanish congress declared bull fighting a part of “Spanish heritage” and the senate passed a law protecting it. Las corridas de toros remains a very popular event throughout rural Spain.

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What a delightful day to take a break…. It was Saturday market day and the whole town turns out – not just to shop but to have coffee in the town square and to socialize with old friends.

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For the first time our accommodations fell short of our expectations, especially the do it yourself coffee. A quick trip across the street and a very friendly and understanding shop owner gave me a tray to take back to our room!

Our accommodation in Sadagun was dated to say the least. I should have known, when we checked in, this was their computer!

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Examples of Mudejar architecture with foundations over a thousand years old.

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Breakfast in the town square with freshly pressed orange juice, coffee to die for and from the market, local cheese, sausage and bread. Cost  – about $10   Will address food / eating out costs later in blog.

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Wow – here is a real market – local cheese, sausage, olives, oil, sardines and anchovies. Life is good!

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Delana has addressed the current situation regarding the tradition of bull fighting in Spain. Here is a poster advertising the still very popular sport being held next week in the very town we were visiting. Bull fighting is covered on TV just as hockey is in Canada.

DAY 4: May 29, 2015 Calzadilla de la Cueza to Sahagun – 23 km

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We have left the area where sand and gravel are locally available. Here Adobe has been the least expensive go-to building material. Look closely, just straw and clay.

Those who have been to Forever House, especially at this time of year, will know of our love of lavender. We are beginning to see and enjoy the aroma of it growing wild along the route

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Some old pilgram walking aimlessly! In fact we are back in the groove – kicking out 6 hour walking in pretty warm temperatures

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Ahhh the footwear dilemma. Here proof of some mistakes made. Our experience points to footwear too rigid ( no to solid leather, especially leather toes and not wide or long enough, the primary causes for the hundreds of pairs we have seen discarded. They may feel great in the store but after repeated days walking, your feet expand and in many cases are covered in protective bandaging. Ours are at least 1.5 sizes larger in width and length.

Two years ago as we started planning for our Camino we actually considered renting a donkey only to discover it totally cost prohibitive….not wanting to shoulder heavy packs we even considered buying one!! Then we discovered the long established luggage forwarding service 😀😀
We did actually see one last year – name was Martin and when last seen he was refusing to cross a bridge!

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This was an unexpected surprise. This some 6 story mound with a series of ground level doors – something we had never seen before.  Root cellar, bomb shelter???? As Delana tells below it is community wine storage facility.

A familiar pilgrim on an old Roman  bridge.

Over the hills and down into the valleys past acres of grain-we are still in the ” bread basket” of Europe.The variation in the topography is welcome as the road does not seem so endless. We are walking under the bluest of skies (thunder storms were forecast) and we are making good time each day. It is very dry— we arrive at our destinations dusty and hot. Fortunately, hardy wildflowers continue to brighten our path—now huge thistles, wild lavatera, blue flax, Spanish lavender and wild roses all joining the happy ubiquitous poppies. Rod very patiently photographs the flowers😊
Outside the village of Moratinos there were a few vineyards and in the village itself there were mounds of earth with entrance ways sort of like root cellars. The mounds had venting and were even topped by four sided cupolas providing natural light.  Upon asking we were told these are the town’s wine cellars!
Tonight’s B&B is small with a “do it yourself” breakfast room but not a lot “to do it yourself” with—this was not what we expected. However, it is very clean and quiet and in a central location. Also, the hostess offered to wash our laundry which is invaluable assistance, so it is all good.

DAY 3: May 28 2015 Carrion de Los Condes to Calzadilla de la Cueza – 20 km

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Love this picture! Delana surrounded by wild poppies growing beside a wheat field.

A passing pilgram’s way of beating the sun!

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Unfortunately the two pictures I wanted to show side by side didn’t work out that way when I tried to post them ( many times…. Grrrrrr) so this was to have followed the one below showing Delana walking away from the camera. What I wanted to show was the serenity of travelling the Camino. The two pictures were taken 180 degrees apart …. Not very crowded despite the fact that last Lear 224,000 signed up to walk some portion of the camino.

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” don’t quit before the miracle”is a beautiful Camino note on a hunting sign.

The backgouund to the sign: the black and white sign is common as you walk in the Spanish countryside. The sign itself designates whether hunting is allowed or not. Like the French and Italians, the Spanish hunters kill thousands of songbirds each year, as they are unprotected and considered a delicacy by many people. There’s no tradition of conservation in Spain and most hunters are inclined to shoot anything that moves. Although they won’t deliberately shoot, it’s advisable to steer clear of the countryside during the hunting season.

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Lunch break! After 3-4 hours of walking a light picnic is a treat!

Picture beside: shows how beautiful wild flowers ( here showing poppies) grow everywhere but NOT in grain fields. Goes to show the success of big seed companies use of herbicides to control weed growth in grain fields. It is dramatic – there are no weeds growing within a meter of the edge of the grain field.

It appears our room last night was constructed in the monastery stairwell–3 levels for a bedroom, a settee and a bathroom. Deciding it was a hazard we left lights on on all levels to prevent falling down the stairs in the dark.
We were warned about the walk today—across the Meseta again but with no villages or water enroute. In the lingo of athletes (not us), we “carb loaded” at breakfast and packed extra water and food for the journey. There were two routes to choose today. Having taken the “road less travelled ” on our first half of the Camino and getting lost, we chose the road more travelled this time. It was gravel with a moderate incline but seemed to go on and on. The sameness of the scenery along the way—farmland kilometre after kilometre contributed to the feeling of going nowhere. I think at one point the church we saw was a mirage. The temperature was 28C with no cooling breeze.
Calzadilla de la Cueza is very quaint and tiny with a small hotel and an albergue., both run by the same genial fellow. The gentleman also is a local farmer and rides his front end loader from place to place. (Grandpa took a picture for you, Garner. 😊). All pilgrims ate dinner together tonight—there is only one restaurant.. It was fun. At our table were women from Ireland and England, a couple from Winnipeg, and a young man from San Francisco. We enjoyed their company very much.
After today we once again are feeling a part of something special. You might call it the mystique of the Camino.Each day is both a challenge and a gift. We have yet to encounter any fellow pilgrim who is not kind or thoughtful. A place of sharing describes the Camino well. Others offer of themselves whether it be advice about feet, hints of good places to stop, their own life journey, or their concern for another. It is all genuine. This atmosphere of camaraderie and caring creates the unique ambiance of the Camino. Other walkers always bid a “Buen Camino” whenever you meet, cyclists ring their ring
bells or raise their arm in greeting. Yesterday, as we were walking on a path alongside the highway, cars passing beeped their horns in acknowledgement.
Pilgrims are essentially accepting and respectful of each other. It makes you wonder, why, if people can care about another person for 800km despite being tired and sore, there is so much inhumanity in the world.

DAY 2: May 27 2015 Fromista to Carrion de Los Condes – 18 km

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The Romanesque Church of St Martin with foundations over 1000 years old, just across the street from our hotel

Lots and lots of poppies along the way at this time of year. Such brilliant colours against the different grain fields.

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Towns along the Camino have many bronzed images. Here we are with a pilgrim priest.

To the right, an indication of what is to come, sometimes as many as 4 or 5 pilgrims within a km of us. Here we are looking back, shows how flat the Meseta is. It’s about 8 km to the second tree line.

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Another of the poppies along the way – no not that big! Shown here against a wheat field. That’s barley in the field in the distance.

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Another grain elevator but unlike the very few left on the Canadian prairies, these are cement and still in use.  Pretty big, look at the car for a comparison.

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Those are London Plane trees – they are everywhere with most shaped by the practice of pollarding ( extreme pruning to provide a canopy ). Note the clock and the huge stork nest on the top of the tower.

Our little rural hotel in Fromista was basic but spotlessly clean and the beds were comfortable. All the early departing pilgrims were considerate and despite the grand Romanesque church with its huge bells being right next door, we enjoyed a quiet night’s sleep. After a typical pilgrim’s breakfast of bread, cheese, thinly sliced ham, fruit and coffee, we headed out with clear blue skies and temperatures predicted to rise to 19 C.. We are still in the Meseta, the Great Plains of Spain. Despite the soil being like heavy clay it must be nutrient-rich as the crops are abundant. Today’s route was a gravel path called an ” andadero “‘ along the main highway.It was especially built for pilgrims and is safe except there is no shade. Much of the time we were knee deep in poppies and daisies which was lovely.There was a moderate incline today but the walk was not difficult. Most days we would not choose to walk next to traffic but the alternate route offered no food or water enroute. We are encountering more pilgrims on this half of the Camino but still we have periods of blessed solitude throughout our day.
At our morning coffee stop we met a newly retired woman from New Zealand who is walking the Camino alone. At supper tonight a fellow pilgrim from Germany joined us. . It is always interesting to hear other pilgrim’s stories.
We are staying in an old monastery ( built in 1066) tonight in Carrion de Los Condes. Despite what the name may conjur up in English the town has nothing to do with vultures. It is the name of a count who drove the Moors out of this part of Spain.. Carrion de Los Condes is an important part of the Camino as the monasteries here have offered help to pilgrims for hundreds of years..

DAY 1: May 26 2015 (Boadilla del Camino to Fromista 6 km )

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The route we took ( mostly up hill!) getting to Boadillia last year.

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Our hotel this year in Burgos… A former Jesuit monastery, built 16 century

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Night shot of one of the ancient archways leading into the city of Burgos

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Our tour guide pointing out where we are

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It’s spring in Spain and flowers colour the landscape. Rod in a field of poppies after his tumble down a hill to get the picture!

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Delana found this unusual site in downtown Burgos, live snails ( caracol in Spanish) being sold by the kilo!

Please excuse the fact that the photos above are not in a logical order….. There are electronic gremlins in this blog site and they seem to have their way!

We enjoyed a lazy morning in Burgos as the vehicle taking us to our end point last year was not arriving until 1300.
These relaxing few days have been a gift. We are well rested and eager to resume our Camino trek. Yesterday Rod realized that some sewing of extra pockets for his rain jacket had been forgotten by 😔….? Anyhow, when we passed a wool shop in town that had sewing machines for sale, in Rod goes and asks the woman running the shop if she can sew his jacket. Although this is not what her shop is about, when we return an hour later, Rod’s jacket is altered perfectly and for a pittance. This is but one example of the kindness peregrinos receive on the Camino.
It was a lovely drive from Burgos back to Boadilla del Camino. The fields of wheat, oats and barley had had one harvest already and made a colourful quilt accented by large swaths of red poppies. At a photo stop amiably provided by our driver, Rod tumbled down a steep bank trying to get a photo of the poppies for Jill our “poppy friend”😊 Fortunately the photo was good and Rod is fine.  On reaching Boadilla (90 min from Burgos) we headed off toward Fromista with a hefty tail wind. Much of today’s short walk was alongside the Canal de Castilla. This is a 207 km long waterway built in the 1800’s to transport the cereal crops of the region. It is now primarily used for irrigation in this arid land. Our path was rocky but flat, framed by yellow iris on the canal side and a floral bouquet of wild roses, poppies, wild pointilla and daisies on the other. A bonus of walking in springtime is the constant birdsong all around.
We are comfortably ensconced in a small hotel in Fromista (pop, 822). The town is a popular stop for pilgrims and is noted for the Romanesque church of St, Martin de Tours which is right outside our window.

DAY 24: September 17 (Castrojeriz to Boadilla del Camino-19km)

Look way across the  valley - see the town at the bottom of the large hill on the horizon - that is Castrojeriz, and it took us only 90 min to get the 7 km  up almost 900 feet to where we are on the Meseta plains. Our last few kms before leaving  Castile for the provence of Palencia - the fourth province we visited.
Look way across the valley – see the town at the bottom of the large hill on the horizon – that is Castrojeriz, and it took us only 90 min to get the 7 km up almost 900 feet to where we are on the Meseta plains. Our last few kms before leaving Castile for the province of Palencia – the fourth province we visited.
This was unusual.... Yes for those who have lived on the prairies, that is a grain elevator and the first one we have ( ever!) seen in Europe.
This was unusual…. Yes for those who have lived on the prairies, that is a grain elevator and the first one we have ( ever!) seen in Europe.
Our destination  the church at Boadilla del Camino, some 350 km from our start 25 days ago. We climbed 800 foot sidehills, avoided some thunderstorms and descended into valleys carved by the water erosion from the mountains to the south. From here next year we have a level s hot for 5?  Days before getting into some serious vertical routes. Sadly the church was closed but we were able to get our Camino Passports stamped at the nearby auberge. Interesting comment that Rod heard while there " wow, a shower, my first in two weeks" .  Pilgrims are willing to do without.
Our destination the church at Boadilla del Camino, some 360 km from our start 25 days ago. We climbed 800 foot sidehills, avoided some thunderstorms and descended into valleys carved by the water erosion from the mountains to the south. From here next year we have a level trek for five days before getting into some serious vertical routes. Sadly the church was closed but we were able to get our Camino Passports stamped at the nearby auberge. Interesting comment that Rod heard while there ” wow, a shower, my first in two weeks” . Pilgrims are willing to do without.
Those are our Camino passports. Every day we would find some special place that would certify our passing.  Next year that passport, when completed, will allow us to be awarded the a compostela, a certificate of completion of the pilgrimage.
Those are our Camino passports. Every day we would find some special place that would certify our passing. Next year that passport, when completed, will allow us to be awarded the a compostela, a certificate of completion of the pilgrimage.
After being on the Camino for 25 days, this is the closest we got to rain!!  During the summer time, it is interesting that almost 50% of the rainfall is from thunderstorms on this prairie region. Picture taken from our cab window as we retraced our steps back to Burgos for the train  to Madrid. What had taken us 3 days to walk we made by car in less than 90 minutes. As we watched the familiar places whiz by, we realized how fortunate we were to have experienced this journey "at the speed of life".
After being on the Camino for 25 days, this is the closest we got to rain!! During the summer time, it is interesting that almost 50% of the rainfall is from thunderstorms on this prairie region. Picture taken from our cab window as we retraced our steps back to Burgos for the train to Madrid. What had taken us 3 days to walk we made by car in less than 90 minutes. As we watched the familiar places whiz by, we realized how fortunate we were to have experienced this journey “at the speed of life”.
That's a stork's nest on the top of our  destination church.  Look at the size!
That’s a stork’s nest on the top of our destination church. Go back to the picture of the church and you will see it at the top of the building.

DAY 24: September 17 (Castrojeriz to Boadilla del Camino-19km)

Preparing to depart for Boadilla this morning we could not believe in a few hours we would be finished our Camino for this year. Despite some days of walking that seemed endless it has been a great journey and has passed quickly.
Even climbing up to Alto de Mostelares as soon as we left
Castrojeriz did not phase us. About 2/3 of the way up the bright yellow emergency vehicle was taking a cyclist and his bike off the hill. We don’t know what the problem was. It could be just a bike breakdown. The descent from Alto was difficult but then the land levelled out and remained that way for the rest of our walk. Dark storm clouds were overhead and we did hear a bit of thunder. Fortunately, the rain held off until we arrived in Boadilla:-) We have been incredibly lucky with the weather! Despite a strong head wind we made good time. Now we are back in Burgos.(Our transportation from Boadilla was right on time).
We had little time to see much of Boadilla, but as this is where we will begin next year, we will be able to appreciate it
better then.
Some of the very old houses in Boadilla are built on stilts with an enclosed space underneath in which logs are burned thus heating the floors. This was another Roman invention. Boadilla is also a part if the Canal of Castilia, one of Spain’s greatest engineering feats. This canal is 207 km long and has a lock system. It began in the 18th century and took 70 years to complete. Originally it was built to transport grain but the advent of the railway in the 19th century was more efficient.
We are very happy to have reached our goal of 360 km of the Camino for this year. It may sound strange but we know we will miss it. Walking the Camino de Santiago de Compostele is an incredible personal experience. We feel fortunate that we are able to do it. It is difficult to explain or express the feelings you have walking the Camino. Certainly, many days it was a physical challenge to us. We are grateful that out first half of the walk went well. How Mutti’ s head and leg would be able to tolerate the physical aspects of our walk was an unknown when we began. In the past month she feels her leg is stronger and only the hottest day’s bothered her head. The Camino is more than a long walk. It is an emotional experience as well. Among pilgrims of the Camino there is a saying, “Everyone walks their own Camino”. We are all following the same footsteps but the effect the Camino has on each pilgrim is unique to them.
Thank you all for your encouragement along the way. xo
However, to put our walk into perspective: In 1980 a Canadian young man with one leg ran 5,373 km in 143 days to help others…..
Thank you for slogging through the blog:-) It has taken us a day or so to put it to rest until next year. We are sending this from Santorini, Greece where we are giving our feet a rest.

DAY 23: September 16 (rest day in Castrojeriz)

 

Our hotel is an old rural manor - are historical family pictures and memorabilia everywhere; both military and from the bull fighting ring.
Our hotel is an old rural manor – with historical family pictures and memorabilia everywhere; both military and from the bull fighting ring.
There is the blue room and the red room.. here is Mutti relaxing in a room filled with history.
There is the blue room and the red room.. here is Mutti relaxing in a room filled with history. That’s a player  piano in the background.
Thats the castle we were going to walk to.... yes, it shows how walking the Camino can change your attitude about a 'little hill' !
Thats the castle we were going to walk to…. yes, it shows how walking the Camino can change your attitude about a ‘little hill’ !
The School of Saint Mary of the Apple Tree... with the beautiful flowers in the foreground
The School of Saint Mary of the Apple Tree… with the beautiful flowers in the foreground

 

DAY 23: September 16 (rest day in Castrojeriz)

It has been an overcast day with a strong, cold wind gusting through the village. We were out and about when the rain started but conveniently took refuge in a little cafe and waited out the rain drinking cafe con leche.
A hill/small mountain looms over Castrojeriz with the ruins of a huge Roman castle on top. We had planned to hike up there this afternoon but decided we did not wish to be caught in the wind and rain. So, we took a nap instead…always a good alternative. Actually, it was a culturally correct decision. At 2 pm in Spain shops close their doors until 5:30pm for siesta. The shops then remain open until 8pm. The towns and villages assume almost an eerie quiet during this period.
A very kindly cleaning lady gave us access to the hotel washer and dryer…..which saved us a lot of time …besides our clothes would not have dried outside.
It looks very much like we will be walking in the wind and rain tomorrow. This is our last day on the Camino until we return next year. One day of walking in inclement weather makes us very fortunate pilgrims!
Castrojeriz is an interesting town in that it seems to be one very long Calle Major (main street). Also we now begin to see the first of pueblo type construction with mud bricks replacing stones. The pueblos are characteristic of the Meseta.
The first structure on entering Castrojeriz is the impressive
Gothic building, Colegiata de Santa Maria del Manzano or School of Saint Mary of the Apple Tree. The name is a charming mystery, especially as there are no apple trees,around….:-)
We are going to miss the Camino but we are ready for a change from the “Pilgrim’s Menu” which has the same choices wherever we go:-) Today Mutti found a shop with a
Snickers bar and she has ferreted it away for tomorrow’s
walk.

DAY 22: September 15 (Hornillos del Camino to Castrojeriz – 21 km)

Mural on the wall next to our hotel. Pretty accurate depiction
Mural on the wall next to our hotel. Pretty accurate depiction
View of the main (and only ) street as we left   Hornillios. Loook at the old floor joists extending out to hold the next floor - hundreds of yeas old. the white truck:  kind of neat: thats the bread truck. There is no bakery in town so the bread man drives every block,sounding his horn and all those who want fresh bread can come out to buy it. And then visit with their neighbours!
View of the main (and only ) street as we left Hornillios. Look at the old floor joists extending out to hold the next floor – hundreds of yeas old.
The white truck: kind of neat: that’s the bread truck. There is no bakery in town so the bread delivery man drives every block, sounding his horn and all those who want fresh bread can come out to buy it. And then visit with their neighbours!

 

The difference irrigation can make!
The difference irrigation can make!
Arch for the monastery of San Antoine built in 14th century. Specialized in treatment of ilness known as "Saint Anthony's fire" - caused by sensation of internal burning of it's victims. Cause was a fungus in the rye bread commonly eaten in other parts of Europe but not Spain - therefore pilgrims found themselves miraculously cured on their way to Santiago.
Arch for the monastery of San Antoine built in 14th century. Specialized in treatment of ilness known as “Saint Anthony’s fire” – caused by sensation of internal burning of it’s victims. Cause was a fungus in the rye bread commonly eaten in other parts of Europe but not Spain – therefore pilgrims found themselves miraculously cured on their way to Santiago.
Little town of Hornillos - such a beautiful  and peaceful  place.  Has a definite future - town businesses understand the real value of the Camino pilgrims - have built an economy around the Camino - one of the few that has really grasped the economic significance of the hundreds who walk through each day.
Little town of Hornillos – such a beautiful and peaceful place. Has a definite future – town businesses understand the real value of the Camino pilgrims – have built an economy around the Camino – one of the few that has really grasped the economic significance of the hundreds who walk through each day.
Energy from wind is really important in Spain. "Red Eléctrica de España (REE) released a preliminary report on the country's power system ( 2014), revealing that for "the first time ever, [wind power] contributed most to the annual electricity demand coverage". According to the figures, wind turbines met 21.1% of electricity demand on the Spanish peninsular, narrowly beating the region's fleet of nuclear reactors, which provided 21% of power.
Energy from wind is really important in Spain.
“Red Eléctrica de España (REE) released a preliminary report on the country’s power system ( 2014), revealing that for “the first time ever, [wind power] contributed most to the annual electricity demand coverage”. According to the figures, wind turbines met 21.1% of electricity demand on the Spanish peninsular, narrowly beating the region’s fleet of nuclear reactors, which provided 21% of power.
Walked through miles of the Mesata area today. Much like foothills of southern Alberta except no farm houses. We assume that this land never has been owned by the small farmer, that is not the way European history worked. Peasants simply worked the land for the land owner - the state or church. Fundamental difference between population distribution in Europe and the new world. Here rural population is centred in  small villages as it always has. Problem now is that these small villages are dying as the population turns to the larger centres in search of work.
Walked through miles of the Mesata area today. Much like foothills of southern Alberta except no farm houses. We assume that this land never has been owned by the small farmer, that is not the way European history worked. Peasants simply worked the land for the land owner – the state or church. Fundamental difference between population distribution in Europe and the new world. Here rural population is centred in small villages as it always has. Problem now is that these small villages are dying as the population turns to the larger centres in search of work.

DAY 22: September 15 (Hornillos del Camino to Castrojeriz – 21 km)

Note: There are many things shared with fellow pilgrims and as always as word is passed along rumours abound. It turns out the fellow that runs Sol de Sol in Hornillos is the brother of the young woman who married Martin Sheen’ s grandson. However, they did not meet when “The Way” was bring filmed but rather the movie was made because Martin Sheen is a devout Catholic of Spanish origin.
It rained all night but we slept through it:-) As the forecast was for thunderstorms we did not dawdle over breakfast as we usually do. The trail was an assortment of paved highway, muddy dirt roads and rocky goat trails but all in all the walk was not difficult. We stopped for cafe con leche half way at a Hontanas, a pretty village. It is interesting to see the restoration going on here. The old stone buildings are gutted but the facades are reinforced. These are being converted to albergues and casa rural accommodation for pilgrims. At peak walking times pilgrims cannot always find a place to sleep. Also, along the Camino many of the churches and monasteries are being restored. Purists believe this will ruin the Camino….Seeing people setting out before dawn to be sure of a place to sleep makes us grateful we have reservations.
Despite the guide book warnings we found the Meseta to have a beauty of its own. Perhaps, being from North America, we are more used to vastness. In this area it is hilly with agricultural fields bring carved out of the steep hillsides. It is quite remarkable. There are also terraced areas of reforestation with pine trees. The soil looks so terrible–chalky and rock-filled but grains, sunflowers and alfalfa manage to thrive in it.
Dotting the landscape are castles, towers, monasteries, and arches built many hundreds of years ago. We are truly walking through history. It gives us a sense of belonging and is also, somewhat humbling.
We have a nice balcony off our room tonight with a panoramic view of the hills.
Tomorrow we have a rest day in Castrojeriz and we are looking forward to exploring.
We forgot to mention—the thunderstorms passed us by:-)

DAY 21: September 14 (Burgos to Hornillos del Camino 24km)

Mutti has a nightly battle with her Spanish pillow... it just doesn't fit and so far the pillow is winning!
Mutti has a nightly battle with her Spanish pillow… it just doesn’t fit and so far the pillow is winning!
The Meseta is a semi arid land. Wter is scarce. Here farmers have reshaped the slopes of the grassland so as to capture every drop of water. Huge cuts in sidehills show up everywhere
The Meseta is a semi arid land. Water is scarce. Here farmers have reshaped the slopes of the grassland so as to capture every drop of water. Huge cuts in sidehills show up everywhere
first (ever) wooden fence that we have seen in Spain, especially unusual here on the Meseta where trees simply do not exist. This was made from shipping pallets!
first (ever) wooden fence that we have seen in Spain, especially unusual here on the Meseta where trees simply do not exist. This was made from shipping pallets!
This gives you an idea of how parched the land is. Looks a lot like southern Alberta. Note how (lime) white the soil is. And note too, in the distance the green field - shows what water can do!
This gives you an idea of how parched the land is. Looks a lot like southern Alberta. Note how (lime) white the soil is. And note too, in the distance the green field – shows what water can do!
A side view of the Cathedral in Burgos as we were leaving this morning.
A side view of the Cathedral in Burgos as we were leaving this morning. Massive, beautiful and many similarities to Notre Dame
Picture of the foot of a pilgrim from the Middle Ages. Note the sandal ... from our experience it has most on today's market beat!
Picture of the foot of a pilgrim from the Middle Ages. Note the sandal … from our experience it has most on today’s market beat! We also note that this pilgrim did not have any blisters!
And to all our engineer friends out here: the following is an engineering commercial:  The Camino de Santiago was built by an engineer, named Domingo de la Calzada highly revered for having built bridges, hospitals and hotels along the Camino. He was born in 1019  - 995 years ago
And to all our engineer friends out here: the following is an engineering commercial: The Camino de Santiago was built by an engineer, named Domingo de la Calzada highly revered for having built bridges, hospitals and hotels along the Camino. He was born in 1019 – 995 years ago

DAY 21: September 14 (Burgos to Hornillos del Camino 24km)

This is an exciting day as we take our first steps into the great agricultural plain of Spain—the Meseta! The guide books describe this as a “hard country where wind, cold and rain can be miserable for the pilgrim”…..hmmm
As we begin the skies are cloudy but Dad is sure they are not storm clouds. We do have a strong head wind (15 mph gusting to 25) so we tie our hats on.
The trail is mostly very rocky with spots of loose gravel which means each step has to be a careful one.
The landscape is gentle hills growing more sunflowers, what looks like a flax crop and fallow fields. Most of the soil is like chalk and it is evident that water is a problem here. It is not a difficult walk but it does seem to go on and on. Even the villages have disappeared now. Despite the head wind we know we are making good time. We suspect the posted distances cannot be correct. Later, talking with others who travelled the same route, there is agreement that the distance was 3km more than stated. That means we walked 27km today—too far for us. Fortunately it was following a rest day:-)
Our room tonight is in a “hybrid” –not a rural casa and not an albergue. It is very small but just fine. The owner was not here when we arrived so we waited almost 2 hrs before we discovered he had left the key at the store across the street!
Hornillos is a small town and there is only one bar/restaurant.
We finally got seated with two Irishmen, both our age. They were fun and charming dinner companions. All in all it was a great day.
NOTE; Apparently the vastness and the emptiness of the Meseta can have an effect on people causing them to hallucinate and believe they are Jesus or one of the disciples. Apparently, the same thing occurs with pilgrimages to the Holy Land and is known as “Jerusalem Fever”. Anyhow, so far neither of us has succumbed–at least we seem normal to each other:-) We will keep you posted.