June 6, 2008 Burgos to Hontanas

I’d read many stories about the heat and boredom of the Meseta, but in my first experience of it — about 3 km out of Burgos — I knew I was in love. The Meseta is a vast plain, filled with grain fields, that stretches basically from Burgos in the east to Leon in the west. Contrary to My Fair Lady, the rain in Spain does not fall mainly on the plain. Instead, this is a hot and fairly dry area, particularly in the summer months. The rainfall is just plentiful enough for a crop of summer wheat, so large farms spread out over the vast, mostly flat land and the camino is mostly on dirt roads that primarily serve these farms.

Setting out alone from Burgos I soon came upon a small but diverse international group. It consisted of an American woman, a Spanish man, and a Japanese man. I joined these three for the day as we walked on ahead toward my goal for the night: Hontanas.

The day was hot and dry, so any bit of shade was very welcome. My new boots, contrary to the reputation of new boots, were treating my feet very nicely. Still, I was hot and dry as I pulled into the town of Hontanas.

This little community, made up mostly of abandoned homes, sits low in a draw and is almost invisible until you come right onto it. Over the previous days I’d heard about another  American, Trevor, and I hoped to meet him here. Sure enough, I sit down for lunch and hear the familiar sounds of American English and I meet Trevor Rasmussen of Ohio whom I’d come to know well over the next weeks. “So you’re Trevor,” I said, and as we talked we began a strong friendship that was one of the best in my many days of camino walking.

I stayed that night at the albergue, where I snagged the last bed — a double in a private room! Soon a young couple knocked on the door and asked if I’d trade them since they were hoping to have some privacy and the rest of the albergue consisted of multiple bunk beds in several rooms. I obliged this charming couple and took one of their bunks instead. That night at dinner I sat with them, discovered they’d only just met a few days before, and heard the young Frenchman describe his dream of opening a crêpe restaurant here in Hontanas. It sounded like an ambitious dream, given the ramshackle nature of the town and the scarcity of any tourists except pilgrims, but I love crêpes (well, the sweet ones, anyway) and I wished him well.

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