Day Eleven: Sto. Domingo de la Calzada to Belorado

I woke up to a message on my phone, “Miss You.” I wrote back, telling Inga that I missed her as well.

The dormitory was almost empty when I left, but the hospitalera stopped me with two pieces of advice: “Take money, there’s no ATM between here and Burgos.” and “Walk to Ages, not to St. Juan. And take the bus into Burgos, the suburbs aren’t good to walk.”

I pulled out enough money to last me for two days, grabbed coffee and a piece of Tarta Santiago, and left. The day was lonely, few pilgrims seemed to share my schedule today, and mostly along the freeway, with occasional stops through small towns.

Another local legend is said to have happened a few miles later. The towns of Sto. Domingo and Grañón were engaged in a bitter feud over some land and had, after much screaming and blood shed, decided to settle the whole affair with a duel.

At the day of the fight, Santo Domingo’s fighter appeared fully covered in oil, making it impossible for the opposing champion to grab him. The fight was decided, when Grañón’s fighter stuck a finger up his opponent’s ass, the only place where lube was helpful, and threw him, winning the fight. He passed days later from complications of dirty finger, I’d presume.

They should have put a urologist memorial up.

In Grañón, a small town, I climbed the tower of the church, marveling how far I’d come and how far I still had to go.

Entering Castilla

A few kilometers later I passed from Rioja into Castilla, the third province on my Way. Almost immediately the landscape and ground under my feet changed, this is where Wheat Country started, a sight that would be my company for weeks to come.

In Villamayor del Rio, a town the Way barely scratches, I had my first bad Camino experience. A restaurant seemed like a good idea for a bite, and I entered, just to be yanked backwards on my backpack and almost crashing into a table. I righted myself, grabbed the offender by the shirt, only to stare in the angry eyes of a waiter. “We do not allow pilgrims inside, you must eat outside,” he barked. I contemplated for a second to “in my confusion” make him meet the table he’d almost thrown me into, but instead gave him a select number of greetings we usually reserve for a very special kind of asshole, and left.

I arrived in the late afternoon, found an albergue with a pool, ate at the attached restaurant, showered, and passed out. I dreamed of beating up a waiter, only to stare into my own battered face when turning him over.