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The next morning, I decided to leave later by myself rather than with my friends whom I’d traveled with for the past 14 day. This meant that this would be the first time I would hike by myself on the trail since day 1. I was a little nervous, but like I said before, the Camino is so well marked that it’s hard to get lost; or so I thought. I decided to stay behind because I wanted to check with the post office to see if my mail had arrived from back home, and to mail some post cards back home as well. After waving so long to my friends whom I would see later on in the day, I went and sat in front of the post office until it opened. The mission was a success and I got my first letter from my father and sent some letters back home. I decided to save the letter for reading until I reached Hornillos at the end of the day, like a treat.
The first 10 km or so I navigated my way around fairly well. But, once I got outside of the city a little bit, I came to a fork in the road and took a wrong turn, which I thought was a secondary route you could take. Rather than backtrack, I pulled out my iPhone and looked to see where I was in relation to the next town (thank God I bought that overseas plan). I was still headed the right way, just not on the same path as the rest of the pilgrims, so no problem right? Wrong again. I ran into some major intersections on some very busy highways, and wouldn’t you know it, I saw pilgrims walking on the trail just on the other side. So, I took my time waiting for the cars to clear with just enough time for me to run across. After a hop over a construction fence and a rip in the crotch of my pants, I was back on track. It was reassuring to once again see other pilgrims walking in the same direction I was.
Later on that day, I even caught up with Xavier and his mother. I walked up to Xavier, said hi, and gave him a high five while his mother looked at me questionably. It didn’t occur to me at the time how weird it was for some strange thick-bearded man to walk up and start talking to her son. So, I introduced myself and told her where we’d met and we actually ended up talking the rest of the way into Hornillos. Xavier’s mother was originally from Spain, but married an American and had been living in America for the last 25 years as a Spanish teacher in Wisconsin. She and her son were hiking the Camion to visit her relatives in the Basque country and to pay tribute to her relatives who had passed away. As I had been learning over the past several days, everyone walks the Camino for their own personal reasons. It was nice to have some new company on the trail for a change.
When we finally got to Hornillos, we made our way to the cathedral to meet up with the rest of my group. Hornillos, by the way, was another hole-in-the-wall town, in a good way that is. But, blink and you’ll walk right through it. After greeting Dom, Caroline, and Mel, Xavier, his mother and I sat down and had a little bite to eat. Xavier and his mom shared some of her cousin’s homemade ham and cheese to make sandwiches with the bread I had bought. This was the ham that Xavier’s mother’s cousin had butchered and cured himself, it doesn’t get any more fresh than that. When we had finished the sandwiches, Xavier and his mom decided to continue on to the next town while my friends and I stayed behind.
We had to wait nearly an hour on the steps of the church for the hospitalero to come open up the hostel for us to check in. We claimed our beds and immediately I laid down and pulled out my dad’s letter as a reward for my hard days hike. It was refreshing to hear from someone back home, but even better to hear words of encouragement from my dad. After reading the note, I relaxed and took a quick cat nap.
About a half hour later, pilgrim’s snoring woke me up from across the room, so I decided walk around a bit and check out where my friends had wandered off to. I found them on the veranda next to the church which had this amazing view of the countryside. The three of them had beers in hand and I asked where I could go grab one. Caroline pulled a cold one out of her bag for me. That’s a good friend right there. And wouldn’t you know it, the sun was starting to go down so it made the view that much more enjoyable.
This night was also the last night Mel was going to be hiking with us. Caroline and Mel were really close, so it was going to be hard to say goodbye after hiking together for so long. We’d already had a farewell dinner in Burgos the night before, but we had our last dinner together in the bar across the street from the albergue, which happened to be owned by the same lady (good food by the way). It was another day done on the Camino de Santiago.
Distance: 21 km
Accomodation: Municipal Albergue- I stayed at the municipal albergue next to the cathedral and across from the local bar. There wasn’t a laundry services, but there was an area designated to wash and hang your clothes. Also available was a large kitchen. The host of the albergue also ran the bar across the street I believe. Word to the wise, be sure to pay her and sign up for your bed in person or she’ll give your bed up to the next person in line. The bar across the street had a decent pilgrim menu and there is also a small market to buy more food and supplies for the next day’s trip. You can even purchase some cold beers and sit on the overlook next to the church and enjoy a sunset like my friends and I did.