Day 17. Groñon to Santosa

Late out of the gate again today. Daphne cut me a bit of cheese and I had some juice and milk before hitting the road. At the end of Main Street there was a little viewing platform and water fountain so I filled and flick’d in the very early morning.
Today there are lots of walkers and the air is dry and cool. Alberto cruises by singing in Italian.
We cross paths again when he stops to celebrate the morning. Eventually everyone pulls away and I’m on my own.
As I pull into Redecilla del Camino Alberto is sitting having breakfast at a bar and we make a joke about the tortoise and the hare as I amble past.
I powered on over the gravel roads and into Viloria de la Rioja
Kim from KoreaDay 16.
Rico was up early. He only has 28 days and so must do nearly 30 k per day. He looks pretty fit and in his 50’s. He says that I will lose so much weight doing the Camino my wife will have trouble recognising me when we meet up in Sarria.
He departs with a flourish.
I’m out the door and on the road by eight.
As I’m leaving town I bump into the Tassie’s and learn their names are Tom and Lucy. A little later I help a German or Dutch lady with something loose on her pack but then she takes off. Everyone walks slightly faster than me.
It’s gravel roads between farms for two hours but this time there are plenty of walkers. We are heading up to the rim of the valley and after 2 hours there is a fairly steep climb to the top but then a roadside stall appears and I buy a banana. Shortly after Utah pulls up alongside and we stroll into Ciruña together. There is a large modern but deserted estate on the outskirts.
At the juncture we part as I head up to the bar for breakfast. Afterwards, I call Greg to wish Marie a happy birthday.
Happy birthday Marie!
Now it’s a gentle stroll to Santo Domingo and in about an hour I crest a hill and the town is laid out before me. I have picked up a few little stones in my shoes and stop on a bench to put it right before the long shuffle into the town square and as it’s a little after 12 I call Ali.
Laura has passed her driving test and has her license. Well done Laura!
I find a restaurant and order a tomato and tuna salad with a beer.
I order a coffee too just so I can sit a little longer. It’s about another 6 k to Santosa and I want to have a good rest.
When I come out its blue sky and hot sun so I crack out the sunnies and head off. It’s gravel roads slightly uphill and 90 minutes in I have to stop to adjust the laces of my left shoe. I’ve developed a pain in the bones behind the toes and I’m hoping it’s the shoes.
The pathway is sometimes shaded but mostly hit gravel and eventually buildings loom into view and I turn a corner to spy the Albergue
On entry I discover that it’s a donativo. I offer 10 Euro which is gratefully accepted. In a donativo, the donation today go towards paying for tomorrow’s pilgrims. We depend on yesterday’s donations.
At 5 there is a little excursion over the road and up the hill to the hill-cave church of the Virgin of the rock or Virgin la Peña.
It’s a beautiful little chapel and the lady guide explains in Spanish about its history, donation for restoration greatly appreciated.
Afterwards we return and I bump into Jo and Bee and they are very excited to see me again.
Coleen from Napier is here to and we chat in the garden for a bit.
I go and offer a little help in preparing dinner but they seem well organised. The dinner is all gluten so I just dive in.
The hosts are a Spanish gentleman and a volunteer who is Italian. I never learn their names but they both go out if their way to make everyone welcome. At dinner I’m next to Lucy and Tom with the Italian volunteer on one side and opposite me is John from Ireland and Charmaine from Denver.
At the end of dinner the host leads us in a very old pilgrim song and everyone sings along in Spanish.
After dinner we are all invited upstairs to a little chapel. There is some hymns and a few words and then everyone is given a small prayer in their own language. The prayer has been written by a previous pilgrim and each one is read out by pilgrims like me and after 20 readings the paper is then taken to the little hill chapel and burned.
The session ends with the obligatory hugs and then it’s dishes and bed. I’m lucky because I have a double-mat and I’m under the window.
I have come to appreciate this part if the Camino that a lot if pilgrims probably miss out in.
Buen Camino.

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