On to the Meseta
We got a decent start on October 7th, in the dark a bit before 7:30, navigating the somewhat confusing route out of Burgos by dint of careful observation of yellow arrows and various other trail signs, plus a gps app on my phone.
Good weather if slightly chilly in the morning, almost all trail rather than road, only gentle climbs, almost no shade. This is the “Meseta”. In hot weather, one carries a lot of water and toughs it out. Many cease hiking this portion, in favor of biking – – – or taking a bus. We found it easy to do the miles, hiking 19.8 of them this day, ending up in a new Albergue at the entrance to the town of Hontanas.
We saw very few people on the trail today, mostly at a couple of breaks. Just before we got in to Hontanas we chatted with an English couple who is hiking the trail with their very young son in a kind of 3-wheel stroller, and camping along the way. I think they said they’ve been traveling for 15 months, which I estimate is longer than the child is old. Pretty incredible.
In our very new Albergue, we shared our room with a young man from near Stuttgart, an American woman from Texas, and Vince, a South African / Australian / other things who we’ve run into repeatedly along the way. A nice group, the only downside is that the router at this Albergue is flakey so I had to take a short walk into town to get a little Internet time at a bar.
Lucky woke up early the next day, so for some mysterious reason we all got up early and started walking a little before 7 am, our earliest start yet. Meaning a bit more walking in the dark, perhaps an hour of it. As a result, we did 21.4 miles, finishing in Fromista (now in the province of Palencia) just after 2 pm.
Trail was typically empty in the morning until we passed the town of Castrojeriz, and then suddenly there were lots of people just starting their hiking day.
Lucky and I walked for a while with a German man from Baden-Wurtemburg named Klaus. He had interesting things to say about the role of religion in Germany, the money and power of the churches. Sounds like in Germany too, a politician has little chance of election if not an avowed Christian.
Later, we walked with a new college graduate from New Jersey named Luke. A fun and intelligent guy to talk with. In the little town we had seen wooden barriers, he and friends stayed over to run with the… cows. It’s similar to Pamplona’s running of the Bulls, and I suspect about equally dangerous, but with “brave cows”. Still very large and heavy animals. With horns. I have a good friend who periodically expresses a desire to run with the bulls, so possibly this is in my future.
Then a bit later we were very pleased to see Linda, who we had gotten to know earlier. For whatever reason she took a bus to skip about 50 km. I’m not sure why, as she seemed to be in great spirits.
Linda was walking with a young woman from Barcelona named Eva. After Lucky and Milky and I finished lunch, Eva caught up with us, and I walked with her for perhaps 8 – 9 miles until we got to Fromista. Eva and I did the conversational thing where I spoke Spanish to her, she spoke English to me, and infrequently one of us would correct each other. She was a pleasure to talk with in any language; hopefully we’ll see her again.
The first Albergue we tried in Fromista had a triple person room available for 40 euros, but their actual Albergue was closed: being disinfected due to bedbugs.
Then after we were checked into another Albergue in town, I was asked by the proprietor to translate for a South African woman who had encountered bed bugs at her last Albergue. So today, here in Fromista, she had to have Everything washed by machine in hot water, then dried by machine at a high heat setting.
The rule in Albergues is that if you could possibly be carrying bedbugs, that you Must alert the Albergue management before checking in.
So anyway, bedbugs are somewhat on our minds just now. I’m very glad I have my permetherin impregnated sleeping sack.
The Albergue is the same one that my wife and I stayed in two years ago. I liked it then and I like it now. I told the folks that run it that it’s my second time here, and they seemed quite pleased to hear it.
Milky says that now he too has a bit of a sore throat. Mine seems stable, uncomfortable at night but I can still hike so – – – I hike.
Tomorrow we either have a short day or our longest day yet – – – due to an extensive stretch with no lodgings. I suspect we’ll go for the long day, as we’re getting stronger, the trail is easy here, and the weather is good.
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