Thursday, November 5, 2009

Belorado to St Juan de Ortega

The walk up from Villafranca was lovely and we heard hardly any other birds but cuckoos-hundreds of them (which may explain the absence of other birdies). Then we hit-well a mud autostrada-I have never seen such a wide unsurfaced....mucky track? Heavy machinery and heavier rain made this 'mud central'.
We thought, that as we had started ahead of the pack, it was safe so we started singing the Hippopotamus song at the top of our voices (Mud mud glorious mud there's nothing quite like it for cooling the blood. So follow me follow down to the hollow, and there let us wallow in gloooorius mud) Little did we know that an English pilgrim (aka Kwik kate) was bombing along behind us and rapidly catching up. When she did she mentioned having heard some strange noises "probably heavy machinery" earlier we came clean about our singing
. Walked together to San Juan de Ortega and had a late lunch but Kate was pushing on to Atapuerca, 'Pushing on a bit' proved to be characteristic of her as she is a strong walker and travels light.

Tired pilgrims resting outside the church San Juan de Ortega
Kwik kate and Nell (real name kate Rutherford but she can knock of 40km a day after day no bother)

We were tired and muddy and treated ourselves to the hospitality of the Bar Marcela and of the nice pension run by Jose Manuel Perez. He is an amazing young man he runs the bar, the pension, cooks dinner in the restaurant, serves at mass and is the mainstay of the church choir (of about 4 people) He communicates perfectly in Spanish with everybody-no matter what their language is and they understand him.
Had dinner with Mortin and Rune two Norwegian pilgrims who help run the 800km Saint Olafs pilgrimage in Norway and for their (busmans) holidays they walk the Camino. Rune wears very seasoned all weather leather knee breeches and the mud doesn't stick to them at all. Mortin had a bad chest infection and had to go to hospital for a few days he still looks a little grey. The albergue here is not too cosy and I hope he's ok.

Can't get over the size and grandeur of the old Augustinian complex here and it seems a pity that so little of it is now used. Maybe holy year could launch a restoration project with Jose Manuel at the helm anything is possible
The pension is modern, warm, comfortable,clean and has great showers. Its cold and rainy and boy are we glad we can wash and dry our muddy gear.

The Augustinian monastery San Juan de Ortega now sadly derelict.

Romanesque apse with its alabaster windows at San Juan de Ortega

Some of the houses here, as in other little villages, seem to be dissolving away.

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