- Distance today: 5.9 mi
- Distance Camino 2017: 199.6 mi
We witnessed a dramatic change in landscape today.
First we left our hotel at 6:45 in the dark and trying to get out of Tardajos, wandered through a maze of streets with direction changes at every intersection. There were arrows but some were on curbs, some on pavement, some on buildings and the faded yellow paint was impossible to see without a light beam pointed directly at it. If either Linda or I had been alone we would have taken a wrong turn for certain. Teamwork and good reconnaissance got us through.
Once free of the maze, we continued a mile or so to Rabé de las Calzadas (pop.221), a pueblo with a monastery and a church with a stork nest in the befrey and this morning at least one visible stork in the nest!
As we left the pueblo, passing Ermita de Nuestra Señora de Monasterios, the now dirt path began to gradually ascend over the next 3 miles until we reached the pentacle and gazed at the flatness and vastness of the meseta.
The Meseta is not an autonomous region, but rather a geographical area within the region of Castilla y León—the largest region in Spain. This central high plateau makes up 40% of Spain, with elevation ranging from 400-1000m. There is a saying that the landscape of the meseta is not found in the land, but in the sky with its diverse colors and expansive clouds. Dreaded by some, relished by others, the Meseta has a distinct reputation for being boring, repetitive and bleak. However, the Meseta is also home to such vibrant cities as Burgos and León and there is a certain beauty and awe in the endless horizon and wide open space. Towns are often set down in shallow river valleys, practically invisible along the horizon until arrival. The lack of trees means little to no shade. Medieval pilgrim records often complain of becoming hopelessly disoriented and lost in the Meseta, though recent tree planting along the trail helps to keep pilgrims heading the right direction. The Meseta can be blistering hot in summer and quite cold in winter. The flat landscape glimmers with golden wheat and flocks of sheep ramble the area along ancient sheep paths known as cañadas.
We walked on the meseta for less than a half mile before seeing a large bowl shaped valley which appeared from nowhere. At the base was Hornillos del Camino, our destination for today.
But to get there we had to walk down a steep path known as the cuesta matamulas (“mule killing incline”). We dropped 300 feet in a half mile then continued the decline another mile into Hornillos.
We stopped at the first open bar and had breakfast, then knocked on the door at our albergue, called Meeting Point(45€) at 10:30. It was still being cleaned but the proprietor checked us in and we went to our room, which was clean, as it had not been occupied yesterday.
This is either a new or recently renovated albergue because the common areas and our habitacion doble con bano is modern, shows no signs of wear and is comfortable and spotless.
Hornillos del Camino is not a normal stopping point for pilgrims so there are not a lot of things to do or see, which made for a nice relaxing afternoon and evening to go with our not-overtaxing-walk this morning.
Great news!! Linda’s new Quechua walking sandals have now been worn nearly 15 miles without generating a single blister. And she began wearing them at Decathlon without any break-in wear. Equally important, they don’t rub against any of her older blisters. This lets the old ones completely heal without making new ones. For the remainder of Camino 2017, she will have alternate footwear to match the conditions and probably reduce future blisters.
Tonight we had a pilgrim dinner in the albergue’s dining area with a couple from New Mexico, a guy from Brazil and another guy from Luxembourg. We enjoyed each other’s company and had fun trying to communicate with each other.