Friday, September 11, 2015


Marion told us that it was Jeff's birthday today and as there was only one place in San Juan to have a meal, we would celebrate by having dinner together.  She had asked her friend Ben to make a small stained glass and lead cross for Jeff as a birthday present.

We passed through Tosantos where we had stayed in 2007 with the wonderful Jose Luiz.  The guide book told us to take care when walking through the village of Villafranca Montes de Orca because of fast moving traffic.  With a population of 230 people, we couldn't imagine that the traffic should be too busy!  However, the road is a national one with fast moving trucks and other heavies, and very little shoulder to walk on.

Today started off with a steep, steep climb straight up through a forest on a rocky path.  Thereafter is was a day of fruit - with pears, apples, plums, blackberries and quince in abundance.

We started climbing again and when we thought we would never see civilisation again, there in a clearing was a strange sight.  Upturned cut logs, a couple of hammocks, music coming from the open boot of a small car and three lovely ladies handing out slices of melon and offering cold drinks or coffee. 

After taking advantage of this unexpected stop we continued to San Juan de Ortega - population 20 - a tiny hamlet dedicated to Saint John of the Nettles who was a disciple of Santo Domingo and helped build roads and bridges to help the pilgrims on their way to Santiago.  In 2002 the only place to sleep here was in the monastery, a bitterly cold, damp and mouldy place.  Now the two brothers who own the only café bar have built a modern 10-roomed hostal with en suite bathrooms.  This is where we were headed.

We checked in, booked a table for the first dinner setting and went to visit the church of San Nicolas.

Mass was before dinner and we all enjoyed the pilgrim mass and blessings.  Then we went to dinner and surprised Jeffrey with a small cake and candle and Marion gave him the gift.

I would be leaving the group in Burgos tomorrow and it was decided that we would ask the taxi to pick everybody up at Castaares, a small suburb of Burgos about 7km before the central city.

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