Day 13: Burgos to Hontanas (the beginning of the mesetas)
Today was the day of the long walk, of yellow, of flatness, of nothingness but it started well enough and it’s beginning never hinted at it’s end. Beautiful Burgos and it’s gothic cathedral shone bright in the dawn’s early light.
A late’ish 6:30 start due to the Albergue opening it’s doors late saw many starting the day later than we’d like to have. It did give an opportunity to once again admire the splendour of Burgos and it positively glowed as we strode out. I walked out with my Lithuanian friend and an Italian lady and we walked out alongside the river. I was feeling in good shape and, as I’d planned a long 30km day I soon drew away from my friends forgetting that I might not have the chance of seeing them again I forgot to say goodbye. I hope I’ll see my Lithuanian friend again as I enjoyed her company however my schedule is tighter than hers and my days are, necessarily longer. This means we may not meet up again. Such are the vagaries of the Camino.
I pushed hard and after a few hours I found myself in the tiny village of Rabe de las Calzades where I sat down for tortilla and coffee. As I sat there the 9am bells rang and I enjoyed a perfect moment on the Camino as I sipped coffee, heard bells ring and watched birds soar in and around a centuries old belfry. It’s the quiet moments like these that can be deeply pleasurable.
I didn’t really know what to expect but I was soon in for a rude shock. I walked into the mesetas with a Danish guy I’d met a few days before and the company was much needed as we kept each other going through quite an arduous patch of the Camino. Mesetas are high plains but that hardly does justice to them. They’re an almost desert like expanse of flat nothingness broken up by the occasional distant windmill or haystack. It’s not barren as wheatfields grow as far as the eye can see but it’s a monotone of yellow in each direction. And it doesn’t stop for hours on end. It’s a tough walk in the hot sun and a good test of your desire to walk the Camino. We have a few days of this coming up.
We strode on keeping ourselves entertained with visions of an American Pie movie made on the Camino. Everynow and then the horizon would rise and with it your hopes as you climbed to the top of the rise expecting to see civilization on the other side only to see more and more nothingness as far as you could see. Then suddenly with 500 metres to go the earth dipped and there below us the mythical much wished for land of cold drinks, shade and rest, the town more commonly known as Hontanas, appeared. We survived day one on the mesetas.
Hontanas is a small town but boasted two important things. An Olympic size swimming pool and great food at the bar/restaurant. A great reward for a hard day’s yakka.