This morning we set off as is now usual in the dawn light, great walking temp. crisp, clear, gets you into a brisk gait just to get your blood flowing. We wound our way through a few small villages early today, at the second one I decided sugar was needed, or maybe just wanted, you never can tell. Stopped off briefly for what, if you can get fresh-baked ones, is a decided plus on the Camino. Chocolate croissants! The bar I stopped at smelt as if they had just come out of the oven, mmmmm, heaven on a stick! Or in this case on a plate. Fortified by sugar and a cup of tea, I headed of keeping my eye out for Villafranca as Curtis had told us it was the last chance for food and water before the push on to San Juan de Ortega.
Walking into Villafranca I could see all the pilgrim´s sitting in the plaza chatting, drinking, generally resting for a moment. At this stage in the day I was enjoying my solitude so I didn´t stop, exchanging holas and buenos dias, as I walked through. As soon as I crossed the plaza the street began to climb. And it climbed, and it climbed. What a wonderful heart starter, I think a cigarette I had twelve years ago came back to make its presence known!
I stopped briefly for a banana at a lookout near the top of the ascent, as my legs were telling me the climbing was a little harsh. What a view, across the pines and oak trees, hills and valleys green and lush. On to the top, where I rewarded myself with a cigarette as you do, (or as I do). The rest of the walk was kilometers of sandy track thru forest. The energy from the trees and the earth was tangible, I felt awesome, and stopped at one point to meditate as I was ahead of other pilgrims for a while. Wonderful, I could have sat in meditation for the rest of the day, but that wasn’t getting me to San Juan de Ortega.
I arrived in the town and headed to a bar, (the only bar) for tea and a sandwich. I had written down the name of our hotel but as I had walked past it coming to the bar, I headed back and left my gear. I spent some time in the cathedral there, peaceful, a magnificent sarcophagus is within, and because the town is very small it is lovely and quiet.
After a shower and nap, I headed back to the bar to catch up with some fellow pilgrims as they came in at the end of their days walk, our entertainment included the bar/church cat chasing a mouse he was considering eating for dinner around the plaza, his participation in the circle of life was a not quite appreciated by all, and lots of jokes and laughter was had as sides were taken on the fairness of the situation.
After some rather loud, off-key singing with the Aussie contingent it was time for bed.