The morning started softly, with a bit of the morning’s glow coming in through the one window in our dorm. I had packed the night before and was pretty much ready to go, and expecting some more of the same we pilgrims received yesterday; bad weather. Blessings. The sky was clear.
I got out the door by 6:30am, and headed out of town. The paths were still muddy, but passable without too much trouble. I soon went past the tall wooden cross you see at the beginning of this post, and it made me think of the people who had erected it. Thank you. It’s a good reminder of why I’m out here to begin with.
This day would be a series of small villages; spaced out about 4-5 kilometers apart – as links in a chain – that led me forward to Belorado. I went through Granon, Redecilla de Camino, Castildelgado, Viloria de Rioja, Villamayor del Rio, and finally came to Belorado. Each small village was a postcard from another age, and I could easily see the renovations of each town through the change of construction materials used down through the centuries. Of most evidence were the churches, where most had been originally built out of evenly-cut blocks of white stone. At some point, brick became the favored material, and one could see the add-ons and steeples that had been constructed at a much later date.
The sun came forth creating a joyous raiment for the surrounding farmlands. I have rarely seen such beautiful and healthy crops growing in the fields, and I’m an Iowa boy by heritage, so I’ve seen a few fields. I walked the distance to Belorado in peace and contentment with the steady scenery of this magnificent rolling land.
In Belorado, I arrived early, and sat out in front of the Albergue Cuatro Cantones. The Albergue would open at noon, and the town had some life to it, so I wanted to settle in, unpack, and explore just a little bit. I have to say that this Albergue was perhaps the most interesting so far on my journey, and it really became the centerpiece of my day. It had both dorms for sleeping and a small bar/restaurant, so the pilgrims did not need to find their meal elsewhere. I can tell you this is a treasure for a tired pilgrim.
What made it most interesting was the owner. Upon opening the door of the Albergue to the small throng of tired and dirty pilgrims, at twelve noon, he calmly announced that he expected us to line up politely, and one at a time, a pilgrim would enter and present his passport, and his Credential for stamping. Ten euros later, along with hanging up your walking sticks and leaving your boots in the hall cubicles, he directed you to your room and bunk bed. He spoke several languages and handled all things quite smoothly.
The next time I saw him it was dinner that evening. He appeared in a chef’s coat and was beginning to take the orders of six pilgrims that had collected at one table. I really have to say that his composure and respect for us grubby pilgrims was quite touching and inspirational. I went to another table to sit, and he beckoned me to join the table of six. Placing a chair at the end, he pulled it out and sat me. Red wine was poured, and I have to confess that the evening felt more like a dinner at an elegant restaurant, than at an Albergue where the rent for the night was ten euros. We all experienced a three-course meal with several choices for each course, and was entertained by the mellow, vocal musings of the radio – a radio that seemed to exist in its own time and place and beautiful soul. All of this for only 10 euros more.
It really was quite moving how the owner took such care in providing us with an experience that broke away from the hardships of the Camino. With our good conversation and his good food, our party of seven, diverse pilgrims from around the world spent a good two hours enjoying the evening. And with a few glasses of red wine in me, I slept contented through the night.
Tomorrow is another day, Toto. By the way…. that’s my clothing drying on the line outside of my room at Cuatro Cantones.
God Bless and Buen Camino – Reese