The 7th of January 2011, we awoke late but still managed to leave the albergue by 8 a.m. The other pilgrims were already gone. Still, it took about an hour to get out of town. After a quick breakfast of our usual Emergen-C powder and tea, we followed the yellow arrows out of town as the church bell tolled 9 a.m. We began walking in a light drizzle; it stopped and soon, grey, cloudy skies gave way to partly cloudy and blue skies, and finally it was sunny! Up in the sky, a cloud formation created the fancy “F” of my father’s signature, a flourish of a script. My father’s signature, I would recognize it anywhere! I knew he was with me. Tears came to my eyes and felt his presence strong and encouraging. I walked with an added spring to my step. With the winds of the Meseta behind us, the weather was clear and crisp.El Camino was helping me remember that I am not alone. I am never alone.
Walking past the abandoned Convento de San Anton, I marvel at the the beautiful ruins, impressive and stately; they stand as a testament to the way things change and how the Camino persists even as majestic buildings become ruins, decaying and old. At one time this was an important hospital along the Camino bursting with life… and death.
The knights of San Anton are a templar order according to our guide book. But not having heard of them, I am doubtful. There are many legends about the Templars along the Camino! The distinctive Tau cross, though, does seem familiar. In a small cubby hole in the wall, pilgrims leave messages. In one message a man leaves a prayer that his girl will be with him for the rest of his life. I am reminded of the messages left at the chapel de Don Pedrito Jaramillo, prayers, pleas, from believers. Thus, pilgrims and supplicants ask and receive blessings. Or not.
As we continue walking toward Castrojeriz, we enjoy the clear weather and see the castle in the distance, appears closer than it is.
Castrojeriz, an ancient stop along the Camino was the site of many a battle between Moor and Christian. We go by the castle, and the church, but both are closed. We asked around for a restaurant and finally were directed to El Cordon, where we had a delicious meal in a real restaurant! Their specialty is a succulent pig, but we had a caldo instead. The townspeople seem to all be headed to fiestas for lunch, but the restaurant is quiet and we are seated in a back room where we are the only diners.
The meal was the first since Burgos that we actually had at a restaurant and not a bar or cafe. The bad taste of the pasta with ketchup was soon forgotten as we savored the delicious food at El Cordon. We continued walking and arrived at Itero de la Vega without getting lost by going on the detour to Itero del Castillo! we saw it in the distance but knew better than to walk over to the ruins. In Itero de la Vega we ran into Jee and Jack and Lars. Lars took our picture as we sat on a bench to eat a snack. We were still wearing our ponchos due to the drizzle. I felt silly but wanted to document my silliness. In Itero de la Vega they had already settled in a private albergue at the entrance of town. We had passed it but we decided we would stay at the municipal one farther in town.