I want it to be that the known that the reason no blog was published last night, has nothing whatsoever to do with the fact that the little hostel where were staying were staging a birthday party and that the whole bottle, plus maybe a couple of extra glasses of red wine that Hatty and I consumed in very good company was not the cause of the wrong button being pressed and everything being deleted! I think it was probably an internet glitch…….
But to begin at the beginning…. as you know, Hatty was to have arrived at Villafranca Montes de Oca in the early hours, 1am to be precise, and join me for a few days of my Camino. Big, big, huge glitch, the travel agent sent her to a Villafranca de Bierzo, via Madrid, via A Ciruena, (flights) then onto a bus. It’s little wonder that she could not find our hotel, I was a good 4 hours away, and whilst she was wondering about in a strange Spanish town I was becoming quite distraught……
Hatty very soon realised the mistake and did, thankfully, find a hotel for the nigh and, of course, keep in the loop.
The next morning, after dozens of phone calls she was transported to our next hostel at Atapuerca, whilst I made the walk alone, but because I was longing to see her, and still rather stressed out from the night before, I walked quite fast and non-stop and made the18 km walk in less than 4 hours…..
The day began with a definite chill in the air and I started off with several layers, gloves and hat, but after about a half an hour off came gloves, hat, both coat and inner coat and I had the freedom of walking in just a long sleeved T shirt. Although it was a bore to carry extra stuff. It was a lovely walk beginning through rolling hills a mainly oak forest……
The track was well trodden and good to walk on through these first clusters of woods, but soon I reached pine trees and, as it had snowed the previous night, and as the foresters had used heavy moving equipment, the track was an absolute muddy bog and despite trying to avoid mud and puddles, my boots were getting heavier by the minute……
The tree harvest was impressive…….
Along the way a shelter for pilgrims had been erected to the memory of Brenda O’Neil and the inscription read that she was a proud Tipperary woman…..
“I want no rites in a gloom filled room. Why cry for a soul set free”
It comforted my soul to read that inscription and I so know that Bernard would echo those words, and I smiled……
Next I came to a rather magnificent monument, which was placed by relatives of the 300 persons shot during the first months of the Spanish Civil War, 1936 – 1939……..
And on to the lovely village, church and monastery of San Juan de Ortega…….
The Church was open and I peeped in. There was even a little bar open, I would have loved a coffee, but I so wanted to get on to Hatty, so I took a gulp of my water and carried on, stopping only to replace all my layers, coat and gloves and hat as the sun had disappeared and the wind and drizzled reappeared……
These Oak woods at Arlanzon have a long way to go before the spring catches up with then…….
And here were more stone circles, each stone representing a burden laid down, each circle growing year by year……..
And at last on to Atapuerca where I was to meet Hatty and we were to stay the night. It is a place of significant archeological value,…..
Although these standing stones were dated around 2010, I couldn’t understand the whys and wherefores my Spanish being nowhere near up to that sort of translation…..
Atapuerca is not a big place, but is full of tiny streets seemingly leading nowhere, and as I am terribly bad at finding my way in towns and villages, I found I was walking around in circles. There was no one in sight, there never is when wants to ask directions. Eventually a tractor came along the street and I waved him down. The sweet man stopped and I showed him the address, he began to explain, but then decided it would be better to take me, so up I clambered into the tractor and he took me the few hundred yards to a tiny Inn, where I clambered out in a very awkward way…….
A very fitting mode of transport……
And there at the Inn, having arrived 5 minutes before me …….
The Inn was so quaint with low ceilings, creaky floors, and no where to swing a cat, it was very fortunate that we hadn’t brought a cat with us to swing…….
Soon after this we had lunch and then the owners own lunchtime party started….. we have decided not to remember too much of it, I do remember that we gave the birthday boy a very good rendering of “Happy Birthday”…….
End of part one …….