Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Camino 2013 - Day 19: Burgos To San Bol

We left Burgos in a drizzle.  We stopped in a bakery and picked up a chocolate napoleon for an early breakfast.  As we left town the drizzle slowly passed.  This would not always be the case ... but I get ahead of myself.

After Burgos is the start of the meseta.  The meseta is relatively flat.  Having said this it didn't feel as flat as last time.  I'm not sure how to explain this really.  I'm sure there is some psychological explanation.   The fact that the weather was different and more overcast this time around may be some of it.  Whatever the reason it felt hillier this time.

We stopped in Tardajos and used the internet and got something to drink.  We talked with a young couple from Texas that we'd seen a few times before.  They'd worked on a boat to get to Europe and were an interesting couple.

Why did the crustacean cross the road?
The next town after Tardajos is Hornillos del Camino which some people describe as 'a hole'.  I'd skipped it last time and hadn't missed anything I think.  This time we stopped and I bought a sandwich for lunch.  We sat in a small church square surrounded by hundreds of flies.  It was kind of disgusting.  Eat - swat - drink - swat - swat - swat.  I ate my lunch fast so we could get away from all the swatting.

We passed a few people on the way including Ek who we hadn't seen in a long time (we'd met him way back in Cirauqui).  He was doing well and was walking with a bunch of guys his age.  He seemed like he was enjoying himself.

Approaching the tiny and isolated San Bol albergue.
Our destination of the day was a small albergue called San Bol.  It is situated between Hornillos del Camino and Hontanas where I'd stopped last Camino.  It's located out in the middle of nowhere.  A single building on a small piece of land with trees and a natural, cold, spring.  No town nearby.  The land is surrounded by hay and wheat fields - it looks like an oasis in a desert.

The albergue has twelve beds but they sometimes house more.  When we got there it wasn't open yet.  There were three other people here and we were four and five.   Soon after two of the five moved on - the guy told us he would love to stay here but there was a woman ahead of him that he wanted to catch up to.  We all smiled at that.

The dome covered the albergue's dining room.  I slept on the second floor.
The other man there was from Massachusetts.  Vn turned out to be a nice guy.  We would run into him many times farther ahead and we would even walk with him a couple days on the way to Fisterra.  Others showed up.  Ma and Cm from Canada.  Ce, a Mexican Spanish teacher who lives in Germany, and one of her adult students.  A couple from Denmark, some Germans, and an Aussie named Ci.  In the end we ended up with fourteen people in the small albergue.  The albergues in Hornillos del Camino would fill up completely that night.  I think Hontanas was full too.

The hospitalera drove up just before the opening time posted on the door and let us in.  We all did our chores and sat around outside enjoying the fresh air and the company.  A tent pilgrim showed up and set up camp on the far side of the property.  Camping was not permitted here but he sweet talked the hospitalera and she let him stay.  He was traveling with this little white, cute,  puff ball of a dog (Coco, I think its name was) - this explains why he was camping since albergues do not permit animals.

The natural spring on the property.  The water was very cold.
As the sun started to go down the hospitalera fired up the generator and cooked a large paella meal for us.  The dinner table was a large round table in a small round room.  It made talking to your fellow pilgrims easy.  We went around the table and introduced ourselves and had a great time.  The paella was almost finished by the end of the evening but the young German guy, who had walked the longest distance that day, just couldn't finished the last little bit no matter how much we encouraged him.

We helped clean up after dinner, the hospitalera lit a candle in a lantern, turned off the generator, and said goodbye before she left.  This felt so odd.  I was so used to having supervision or at least the illusion of supervision.

As the sun went down I went outside to see the stars.  I hoped the isolation of San Bol, its distance from any town or city, would yield a brilliant field of stars.  Sadly the drizzle we'd had this morning translated at this later hour as haze and the stars were only barely visible.  A let down.

Most albergues have a curfew.  Albergue doors are often closed and locked by 10:00PM every night.  San Bol, without a hospitalera, had no curfew.  Despite this, and the festive feeling - and wine - some people brought with them, everyone was in bed by 9:00PM.  It was kind of funny really.

San Bol turned out to be a nice place to stop.  It had felt like a long day of walking and I was a bit worried about the rustic-ness of the place but it turned out to be a very comfortable place to stay the night and we met good people that we would encounter the rest of our Camino.  Like Grañon, I would recommend all who can should spend a night at San Bol.  It is a special place.  A oasis in a sea of pilgrims.

Pictures can be found in my 2013 Camino de Santiago Google Photos album.

Total Distance on Day 19: 24 km ( 14.91 Miles)
Total Distance Walked: 430 km (267.19 Miles)

Approximate Track of the day's hike.
[Click on map for a larger version]

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