June 7, 2008 Hontanas to Fromista

Trevor proved to be much fun and very good company and he had with him Danni, a policewoman from Berlin. We set out after breakfast on a cool and windy day with rain threatening from the skies.

Soon after Hontanas is the Convento San Anton, a ruined medieval convent with portions of the apse and some buttresses all that remain. The road goes under one of the buttresses and the whole scene is one of beauty and desolation.

After a time the road straightened out as vistas of the next town, Castrojeriz, came into view. The crescent-shaped town hugs a conical mountain with a ruined castle on top and, though Castrojeriz is quite small, it is easily 2 km in distance to cross it from one tip of the crescent to the next.

After traversing the town, Danni, Trevor and I set out to climb the big hill opposite. This is considered the biggest climb of the Meseta, and perhaps one of the steepest (though not the longest) climbs of the entire camino. At the top we looked back to spectacular views of Castrojeriz and the pathway from which we’d come. On the other side of the hill we looked down to unobscured views of the remainder of the Meseta and the mountains beyond. The steep downhill was followed by more, seemingly endless, flat stretches.

Feeling good in my new boots, I left Trevor and Danni behind and headed to Fromista, 34 km from the day’s start. This was one of my longest days so far on a camino and, when the hospitalero at the albergue indicated there were no more beds I was discouraged. After walking through the plaza area and finding now hotel rooms, I was even more discouraged. I went back to the albergue, put on my sad face, and the hospitalera opened a vacant overflow room and let me take the first bed. Later that evening a group of strapping, young Italian bikers in Spandex shorts joined me and, though we had no language in common, we spent a friendly night in our bunks, with handshakes and smiles all around.

I regret missing the open hours of the Fromista church. It’s one of the treasures of the camino, with hundreds of sculptures in the outdoor soffits. It’s tiny, but clearly a Romanesque gem.

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