Madrid Camino Day 11 – Puente Duero to Penaflor de Hornija

May 17, 2017

An early start to another 25 km day. Another breakfast with, and another adieu to my fellow Belgians. I like to walk alone, so I gave them a half hour head start knowing there was no way I could keep up with them even if I wanted to. It was such a lovely morning, cool and overcast and the path was mostly level. There was extraordinary birdsong in the forest. It continued for a couple of hours. Then came a long stretch of open, less interesting farmland.

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. 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 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. He smiled and said he’d already walked there four times.

The quiet Madrid Camino

Later, passing through the Visigoth town of Wamba – very ancient and historic – I encountered a woman coming towards me. A pilgrim from France. By way of introduction she exclaimed, “Vous etes le Canadien!” And told me she’d chatted with two Belgians on the road. We talked for about 10 minutes. My French was coming in handy. 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.

I eventually located the person with the key to the albergue. It is clean and cool. There are two other fellows here – a quiet, middle aged Spaniard named Jose Maria, and a young French guy named Jean. Jean and I went to a nearby bar where I downed glass after glass of free ice water while 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 food supplies for the following day, we went back to the little bar for a nice, cheap dinner.