Camino de Santiago: Day 14, Villafranca Montes de Oca, Spain
Distance from Viloria De Rijoa to Villafranca Montes de Oca, Spain 21.01 kilometers
There are signs at Refugio Acacio and Orietta that say, “Please, No Noise Before 7AM”. This may seem like a small thing, but when you have been staying in dorms where people set their alarms for 5AM, not caring that it wakes up the whole room, and then start rustling their things getting ready so that they can leave and claim the good beds further down the line, this is refreshing. Everyone seemed to respect this and, for staying in a dorm room, we managed to get a good night’s rest.
After a simple breakfast of toast and jam, after much “happy birthday to me” hugs and goodbyes, we were back on the Camino. There was light rain and a cold wind and we began walking, but soon the grey sky’s turned blue and we were in perfect walking weather. Again, the morning landscape was rolling hills and huge expanses of wheat fields, big skies and I had time to reflect on how, just five short years ago, I decided to take a different direction in life. As I thought back about how different life would be if I had chosen to “stay the course” and continue with the ordinary, I couldn’t help but walk with a grin.
Sarah noticed my expression and asked, “What are you smiling about?”
I just said, “I am just thinking how great this all is.”
About lunch time we arrived into the town of Belorado. They were setting up for a Monday market in the Plaza Mayor. We went into a small shop to buy some sunscreen and some snacks and saw a French couple we had met while walking a few days before. We were just going to walk through town, but they suggested a café with great coffee and tapas, so we decided to sit for a while and watch as the vendors set up their market stalls. It is nice when time slows down this way and we just sat, watched and enjoyed.
After Belorado the Camino begins to be more associated with the busy N-120 Highway that run east to Burgos. After being mostly in mountains, rolling hills and quiet farmland, walking next to this road was almost jarring. After a few kilometers the trail took a pleasant detour away from the highway and into the village of Villambista, again beautiful, again mostly abandoned, and we just walked along enjoying the day.
It was beginning to cloud up again as we crossed N-120 into the village of Espinosa del Camino. There wasn’t much to see, but there was a small local restaurant/bar that we ducked into just as rain was beginning to fall. Instantly we found ourselves in the company of other travelers who had the same idea and when John Lennon singing “Imagine” came on the stereo everyone began a sing along. I think Sarah and I were the only native English speakers in the place, but everyone knew the words and we all sang them with much gusto.
When the rain turned to mist we put on our rain gear and began the last leg of the day to Villafranca Monte de Oca. We were now on a parallel path to the N-120 and if we weren’t next to the road, we were never out of ear shot from the noise of traffic. As we arrived on the outskirts we could see what looked like a truck stop and it was there that we found the hotel we had booked the night before. It was a pleasant enough place to stay, with double paned windows to block out the noise, but if one of the huge trucks that race through the town were to lose control, it could easily enter the lobby area downstairs. We had many laughs with the woman who checked us in because on our booking it gave our home address as Vientiane, Laos. She had a Laotian brother-in-law and was expecting us to be Asian. When she saw on my passport that it was my birthday she gave me a huge hug and didn’t seem to want to let go.
Villafranca Monte de Oca has a beautiful church, and a nice albergue on a hill above the town, but the biggest business is the truck stop. We received an email from our friend Ian who was staying at the albergue and we met up for drinks there. It wasn’t fancy, but sharing laughs with Sarah, Ian and others at the albergue made it a memorable and special birthday.