We crested our climb onto the Meseta, still in total darkness, only to have a sort of "Close Encounters" moment draw our gaze to the distant blackness. Off in the distance a large pod of red lights with intermingled flashing white lights stood alone, without any context, confusing the senses. It looked as though something large and alien had just landed. At this point we would have hopped a ride with just about anyone, but in truth our spaceship to Castrojeriz was an ordinary wind farm.
We continued to walk with the sun rising at our backs. It was not a dramatic sunrise as our hoped for fiery orb failed to show. the sun simply went from below the horizon to behind a sheet of clouds. Our morning gift was a thin cold light that cast everything in a flat, uninspiring, single dimension. But, at least we could see where we were going. We trudged on. We finally drew abeam of our alien spaceship just prior to descending into Hontanas. We pulled over to the only open bar in town and walked into a frantic scene of customers (locals and pilgrims alike) all trying to vie for the attention of a distraught lady who was struggling to remember orders and make change as the "light brigade " grew more restive. As always it sorted itself out. It just took a bit of time. One unusual and extraordinary experience, in the over subscribed phone booth size bar, was meeting a fellow who has become a sort of global celebrity. He was the sole survivor of a shipwreck and has been walking for the past many years offering his caminos as thanks for his deliverance. Francisco, one of the Spaniards walking with us, handled the translation. Apparently this man had just walked from Jerusalem to Santiago, and was now heading back to his home in Italy, for good. His total global mileage was 97,000 kms to date. He has been living mostly on the kindness of strangers. Quite a serendipitous encounter, from a random stop at a bar in Hontanas early this Sunday morning.
|Albergue at Castrojeriz|
|In the albergue trying to warm up|
|Hospitalero, two Spanish friends, and Robin|
|Lights going out over the Meseta|