Again, not a good night’s sleep. There were some comments about my snoring and I felt a bit paranoid about it over breakfast. You can only console yourself by knowing that everyone has their night or nights of snoring on the Camino. I had heard it all!
At least the weather was better and becoming more stable. Each day the sun would come out early and the weather would become dryer. The memories of Logrono and the drenching rain were now a distant memory.
At the small village of Espinosa del Camino I came across many familiar faces. Simone and Jasmin, Lorenzo, Gigi and others. Everyone was tired and after two coffees no one wanted to continue. We extended breakfast for some time. I was introduced to Bayas de Gogi, a small red fruit from the Himalayas. It was supposed to give lots of stamina and eaten often by the locals of those mountains. It is full of lots of good things for the walker!
Eventually we all moved on as the day warmed up and we realised that we were overdosing on caffeine. At Villafranca Montes de Oca, I came across Mara and her white horse again. The horse had a problem with the right hoof and Mara was awaiting the arrival of the vet. Rose had given her a phone number of an equine vet that she had picked up the day before. Rose later told me that she didn’t know why she had picked up the leaflet advertising the veterinary practice but when she came across Mara’s injured horse then that must have been a reason. Rose was quite spiritual.
The Way climbed steeply for some time to the Alto de al Pedraja at 1163 metres. The views over the surrounding valley were fantastic, and the path was a pleasant 13 kilometre wooded walk to San Juan de Ortega. I walked with Rose and with Philippe whom I had met before in Estella. As we walked we talked of the problems of the world. There there was a significant church in San Juan de Ortega – the church of Saint Nicolas de Bari containing the tomb of San Juan de Ortega (Saint John of the Nettles). After he made a pilgrimage to the Holy Lands he returned to build the wonderful Romanesque church to provide safety for the pilgrims on this formerly dangerous stretch of the Camino.
After some lunch (more sardines in olive oil!) I continued the last six kilometres with Rose and Philippe to Atapuerca. We found the ‘Centro de Turismo rural Papasol et la Hutte’. This was a great place with a good restaurant and a comfortable inexpensive albergue. The taps in the albergue amused me with their design! After showering I found a bakery to buy some supplies. I was so surprised to find they sold walking socks that I bought a pair. The first time I had ever bought socks from a baker! A brief visit was made to the archaeological centre where ‘Atapuerca Man’, Europe’s oldest human remains, had been discovered.
Later, after dinner, I waited in the calm and peace of the late light to photograph the fortress-like church at the top of the hill. I took photographs until it became too cold to continue and retired for the day.
TIP: The Centro de Turismo rural Papasol et la Hutte is highly recommended!