Day 24 – Hornillos to Castrojeriz

Walked today: 10.1 miles

Walked Camino 2019: 170.7 miles

Note to followers: Several photos didn’t upload last night on the email you received due to poor wifi. With better wifi today, Day 23 is complete and can be seen by clicking on our photo to left of “Day 24” and scroll down to Day 23 to see the updated version.

We began walking out of the “bowl” this morning at 7:30 with a cool 54F wind at our back.

It took 2.2 miles to walk up the opposite side of the bowl that we entered yesterday into Hornillos. For comparison, “mule killer hill” only took 0.7 mile to come down into the Hornillos… making it 3 times steeper than this morning’s assent.

Beginning to head up the wall of the “bowl”
Reaching the top of the bowl’s edge, looking back toward Hornillos
… the Meseta ahead of us

We walked along the Meseta for several miles until the next “bowl”, a smaller one, called San Bol (pop.2?) with a primitivo albergue as its sole structure.

That’s the albergue in upper right center
San Bol sign

Legend has it that pilgrims who soak there feet in the San Bol fountain will be cured of all foot pain.

Our feet still in pretty good shape, we opted to pass on the foot-soaking to conserve the fountain water for subsequent pilgrims in greater need.

Ruins scattered nearby are from the monastery of San Boadilla from the 11th century and for whom San Bol is named.

We climbed out of this smaller bowl rather easily and continued onward toward Hontanas.

The first sight of Hontanas is the steeple of Iglesia de la Imaculada Concepción, as this village is also in a valley, not bowl shaped, but with the Meseta all around.

the first sign of Hontanas from up on the Meseta
More of Hontanas being revealed
We stopped at this first albergue on the way into the village.
Great rest/breakfast stop

After a brief rest and refreshment, we walked on through Hontanas (pop. 70), getting a quick inside look and closer outside look at the Iglesia then continued on toward Castrojeriz.

Iglesia entrance
a quick look inside

Leaving Hontanas, pilgrims can rejoin a dirt path or walk on a parallel road. We decided to take the apparently less traveled option as we were the only pilgrims on it for the next 3 miles

“The road less traveled “

approaching the ruins of San Antón

until the two paths merged shortly before we reached the ruins of the Convento de San Antón.

The San Antón church complex was started by the Order of St. Anthony, a 11th-century order dedicated to the 3rd-century Egyptian hermit whose relics it held.

A man brought his daughter to the relics and she was healed of a particularly pernicious disease reminiscent of leprosy. This disease became known as St. Anthony’s Fire, which caused a terrible burning feeling, loss of circulation and eventually gangrene. This disease was in fact likely ergotism, caused by a fungus that grows on rye bread. The order developed a reputation for healing this disease, though serendipitously, pilgrimage was an excellent antidote to the disease as vigorous exercise and plenty of wine helped to overcome it.

St. Antón is the patron saint of animals, and across Spain people bring their pets to be blessed on his saint’s day. The church ruins include a high archway over the Camino path, and the remains of rosette windows featuring the Tau cross (t-shaped), used as a symbol of the order. An unusual but beloved albergue now exists in the ruins.

We stopped at the albergue and were welcomed by a very soft-spoken and kind volunteer (2 months) who was the keeper/caretaker of the albergue.

Jim surveying the ruins

The couple from South Africa that we met at dinner last night arrived here shortly after we did. They decided to stay here tonight even though there is no electricity or hot water. The communal dinner is by candlelight.

San Antón coat of arms with tau ☦️ symbol for the St Anthony order.
Particulars for staying at the albergue
The interesting volunteer keeper of the albergue

We had walked beyond our targeted 7 miles for the day and with another 4 miles to go to our reserved room in Castrojeriz, we called a taxi to take us the rest of the way.

Linda among the ruins waiting for our ride into town

Castrojeriz (pop. 873) occupies a perfect position for defense along the steep mesa topped by the  Castillo de San Esteban. The Romans used the castle, said to be founded by Julius Caesar, to protect the roads to Galicia’s lucrative gold mines. The city changed hands frequently and the Castle was used and built upon by the Romans, Visigoths, Moors and Christians.

We’re staying in La Posada (64€) in the center of the small town. It’s comfortable and has an adjacent restaurant which offers a Pilgrim Menu tonight at 7:00. We stayed here in 2017 and the owner recognized us when we checked-in at noon and cordially escorted us to our room.

The understated entrance to our hotel

We had an easy afternoon, decided to snack for lunch after our 10:00 breakfast and held off for cena (dinner).

The pilgrim dinner was just a menu available for pilgrims at 11€. So we occupied a table for 4 in the hotel with no other obvious pilgrims around, except for a quiet couple sitting across the room, the lady with a shell on her purse, appearing highly suspect.

For entres, Linda had an ensalada rusa, which is potato salad with some dressing up and Jim had gespacho, muy delicioso.

Jim’s tuna steak smothered with tomato sauce

We both opted for a tuna steak with tomato sauce and dessert was flan for Jim and yogurt for Linda. Of course we were compelled to split a bottle of local vino tinto.

The comfortable hotel lounge area

Tummies full, we took a brief reconnaissance walk to verify our path back to the Camino in the morning, returned to our room and turned off the lights around 9:30.