Madrid Camino Day 11 – Puente Duero to Penaflor de Hornija

May 17, 2017

Early start to another 25 km day after breakfast and another adieu to my fellow Belgians. I gave them a half hour head start knowing there was no way I could keep up with them even if I wanted to. Plus, I was enjoying my solo walk, thank you very much. Lovely morning, cool and overcast and the path was mostly level. There was extraordinary birdsong in the forest. It remained that way for a couple of hours of walking. Then came quite a long stretch of open farmland that was less interesting.

My useful scarf sometimes attracts attention.

Midday, feeling hot and exposed, I was sitting atop a pile of rocks on the roadside for a snack when a white car approached from a long way off and stopped in front of me. A huge weathered Spanish farmer got out and squinted at me. Realizing I had my black and white check scarf around my head as sun protection, I unwrapped it to reveal myself to him. He relaxed visibly. Don’t know what or who he thought I was, but I let it go. I greeted him in my broken Spanish by saying I was a pilgrim from Canada. He asked if I spoke French. Yes! He smiled and we spoke for a few minutes. He expressed great interest in my Camino so far. When I got up to leave I thanked him for letting me rest on his land. He looked me in the eye and said, “Mais non, merci a toi!” He placed a big meaty hand on my shoulder and said softly, “Buen Camino.” I said I’d say hello to St. James for him when I got to Santiago and he laughed and told me he’d already walked there four times.

The quiet Way of the Madrid Camino

Later, passing through the Visigoth town of Wamba – very ancient and historic – I encountered a woman from France who was coming the other way. By way of introduction she exclaimed, “Vous etes le Canadien!” And told me she’d chatted with two Belgians further back up the road. We talked for about 10 minutes. She was very nice and told me what to expect on the next 100 kms. She was walking the Madrid Camino in reverse after having walked 5 other routes.

After 24 kms I was getting weary and almost stepped on a big snake. Then, just coming into Penaflor,  the road suddenly goes steeply down into a valley and up the other side. A really, really steep Roman looking road. Then, a hundred yards on, another valley.  Even deeper and steeper, in the beating sun. Super tough.

Found the person with the key to the albergue and it’s clean and cool, luckily. Two other fellows here – a middle aged Spaniard who is quiet and a young French guy named Jean.  We went to a nearby bar where I downed glass after glass of free ice water and Jean had some cold beer. Nice fellow. We enjoyed some good conversation and got along well right away. After a visit to a local corner store for some basic road supplies for tomorrow, we went back to that same little bar for a nice, cheap dinner.