Esta nevando. "It is snowing" in Spanish. Didn't think I would need to know that phrase. However, when we woke up this morning, it was snowing and there was a light dusting on the nearby hills. (Photo1). We started out again around 8 am in our Altus raincoats, but it did stop about an hour into our walk. We made it to Tonsantos for our morning cafe con leche and were soon joined by our friends from Holland: Sabina, Geri and Perry and our friend Martin from Denmark from our night in Santo Domingo.
After a brief respite, we headed on through the countryside to Villambistia (photo 2). A very interesting church is located there and another of the ubiquitous fountains that dot the countryside for the thirsty pilgrims.(photos 3 and 4). Town also had a well-frequented bar/cafe, as evidenced by the backpacks outside.
Now the trail became very muddy and the clay soil (like Kentucky's) sticks to the bottoms of your boots like glue. It was slow going and the weather was in the 40's. The sauna-like raincoats actually felt good.
The next town, Epinosa del Camino, was barely a blimp, but it did have a small church.
We made it to Villafranca Montes de Oca (pop. 200) around noon and decided to call it a day. We had only done 8 miles but the next 8 miles was all up hill and down -- 3 times with a 1500 ft accrued ascent -- so we decided not to chance it in this weather. There are no stops along the way and the path would definitely be muddy. Besides, the destination only had an albuergue with 58 beds in 3 rooms or one small hotel. Not very inviting.
Instead, we stayed at La Alpargateria, a Casa Rural. We were the first ones and actually ended up with a suite for 36€. We walked around the small town and found the church, a store and a 3 star hotel. We bought food at a local super mercado (I have a closet bigger than that) and made lunch in the spacious kitchen at the inn. Later we were joined by young Emily from Pittsburgh and Carol and Dave from Australia. We 5 had this lovely place to ourselves. Many had decided to push it to San Juan.
This evening we had dinner at the fancy hotel. Apparently the owner of the hotel has traveled the Camino and wanted to give back to help pilgrims. So he built an albuergue next to his hotel and offers pilgrim meals at the hotel for 12€. So the dining room was full of hungry hikers eating the 3 course meal and inbibing in delicious bottles of Riojan wine. By dinner time, we had assembled a table of 9 and had friends at other large tables.
This was a special evening as it was Michele's 60th birthday. This was certainly a memorable way to enjoy it, although I know she was missing family. One of her well-wishers was Brent, who is currently from Barcelona but is originally from CA. He keeps showing up almost every day and is a delight.(photo 5).
Tomorrow we are headed to Burgos. We'll see what the weather brings.