Homer's Travels: Camino De Santiago - Villambistia To Atapuerca

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Camino De Santiago - Villambistia To Atapuerca

I left Villambistia behind me and headed west.  The day started out clear but the clouds rolled in and provided welcome shade as I walked.  Later in the day it would get chilly.  The first major town was Villafranca Montes de Oca.  I thought about stopping for some breakfast but decided not to.  I think this was probably a mistake.  I would need the extra energy later.

At Villafranca Montes de Oca the Camino climbed a hill into the forest.  The forest was not natural as all the trees were planted in neat rows but they were old and big enough to block your view.  For over two hours I walked what felt like a straight line though looking at the track it's obvious that it was not straight.  The lack of views, thanks to the trees, made this part of the Camino rather monotonous.  There wasn't anywhere to sit and rest ... unless you wanted to sit on the ground.  The one bright spot was another pilgrim walking with his dog.

When I saw the man and his dog I wondered if it was a dog I'd heard about.  They said that there was a dog who would latch on to a pilgrim and follow them all day to the next albergue.  There the owner would be waiting with his truck to pick up the dog and take him back home.  Apparently he did this every day.  I don't know how old the story is, or even if it's true, but I wondered if this was the dog.  It wasn't.   The dog was the pilgrim's.

The Camino eventually came out of the artificial forest revealing the next town, San Juan de Ortega.  I went through the church and stopped at a bar, a bar with a familiar name, Taberna Marcela.  I bought a muffin and an ice cream while I rested.  The dog fell a sleep on the ground as his owner ate.

After the welcome change of pace of walking through a village the Camino went back into the forest for a while before arriving at the village of Agés.  Now, I should have stopped in Agés.  Just about everyone who had stopped at Tosantos stopped at Agés. I did not stop in Agés.  I walked through the village and kept on going to Atapuerca.

Agés and Atapuerca are only about 1.6 miles (2.5 km) apart but they were the longest 1.6 miles I've ever walked.  Soon after leaving Agés the energy just drained out of me (I should have stopped for breakfast - I also think I drank my Coke too early and the caffeine pooped out on me).  I think I started to weave a bit as I walked along the side of the road.  I caught myself as I slowly drifted into the weeds.  Yep, I almost walked into the ditch.  My exhaustion made me a little irrational I think.  For some reason I thought I was taking all day to get to the albergue and if I didn't get a bed I would get all medieval on someone's A$$.  Yes, that's what I was actually thinking as I staggered into Atapuerca.  I was second in line at the albergue.  Heh.  My average walking speed for the day was a normal 2.7 MPH (4.24 km/hr). Heh.

I ran into the Dutch guy I'd met at Dinner in Roncesvalles at the Albergue.  He was just resting as he was going to walk farther that day.   The only familiar face was RT who I'd met in Grañon but had not really talked with that much.  We exchanged hellos but that was about it.  I should have talked with her more.

The hospitalera saw my ankle - it was swollen and rather obviously so - and asked if I needed to go to a doctor.  She looked a lot like a Spanish Lisa LaPorta from HGTV.  I politely said no and she suggested I walk next door to a pool to soak my ankle.  I followed her advice, found the algae choked public pool, and tried to soak my ankle.  It was so cold that it was more painful than the tendonitis.  I gave up and went back to the albergue where the hospitalera gave me some anti-inflammatory cream for my ankle.  It didn't help but she was nice so I thanked her.  She tried to convince me to take a bus into Burgos.  I told her I'd think about it ... and then promptly did not think about it (I'm pig headed at times).

The hospitalera suggested, with a smile, that my ankle is my penance.  I just wish I knew what I did to deserve it.

I found a store and stocked up on food and looked around the town for places to eat.  I overheard a French pilgrim complaining that there was no place to eat in this town and to which a resident of the town replied incredulously that there were five restaurants in the town.  I'd seen this guy before and he was a complainer. He was in the same room as me in the albergue (we were in rooms of four) and he'd told me that he'd lost a piece of clothing each day of his Camino.  That's what you get when you get up before the sun and have to feel around in the dark for your stuff.  But he wasn't all that bad.  I overheard him say that some nice American girl had given him this nice fleece coat when he was cold.  (I believe he got it from SZ, she's nice like that).  Anyone who can appreciate the kindness of strangers isn't all bad.

I ate at a restaurant across the street from the albergue, Comosapiens (A play on Come - Spanish for eat and Homo Sapiens - Atapuerca is famous for an archaeological dig near the town).  I noticed a Dutch man (Not the one from Roncesvalles) I'd seen earlier eating alone and suggested we share a table.  We talked over a decent pilgrim's meal.  He'd had problems earlier that week with heat stroke but he was feeling much better.  He turned out to be a nice guy.  Sadly I never saw him again.

This was also my first place without Internet access (They had WiFi but ... I had no computer or smart phone with me).  It's amazing how the lack of Internet can really leave a hole - I missed not having my daily email from home.

That night I shared the room with the French man, and a couple.  Who snored the most?  The woman.  Sounded like a freight train was running through the room.

Day twelve turned out to be another 'wall' day.  If I'd stopped in Agés it would have been a better day.  Instead it was just another hard day along the Camino.  Next day I would be in Burgos and my forced rest would begin.

Total Distance: 14.49 Miles (23.32 km)
Total Time: 5 hours 17 minutes
Total Elevation Up: 2,443 ft (744.63 m)
Total Elevation Down: 2,114 ft (644.35 m)

[Click on map for a larger version]


  1. I snore so loudly sometimes that I wake people up a room over. It's one of my many, many reasons to lose weight.

    Well, this day sounds less sad and mopey. I can't imagine that your poor ankle is a penance. but it was nice that you got to spend time with some new, nice people

  2. Miss McC: Believe me when I say that you would fit right in - both as a nice person and a loud snorer. ;-)