Little Donkey – Hontanas to Itero de la Vega

See that hill in the background? That’s your mum that is.There’s nothing more joyous than genuinely being of service and nothing more soul destroying than faffing about for a living. Another one of the reasons I came on Camino was to take a look at my professional life and try to understand why I keep being drawn into the same working situations time and again. Likely reason is another case of ‘being small before God’ and not realising my own individual power to make a change in my world. This camino sprung from another divine and glorious opportunity to grow cleverly disguised as a redundancy; so for that I’m very grateful. This makes way for the time to think and the space to create something genuinely of use and service to others and much of my time on camino is spent in thought about how my particular skill set could most be of service. 

 Today’s opportunity to serve came with the injury to my walking partner yesterday. Having twisted or sprained her ankle she was finding the going tough and after Castrojeriz lies a very steep incline to reach the peak of the Meseta. I decided to carry her rucksack on this leg of the journey to ease the pressure on her ankle but also to push myself a little, as Clarisa is new to camino she needs to ease herself in during the first week, whereas I am raring to go now without injury or blister. If I don’t sweat I really don’t feel I deserve to enjoy the pilgrim menu! It hurt like a &@)£&/) after 15kms but I am practising being of service without complaint or struggle so this was a great test of character!

 Today’s 23km, 20 kilo backpack, walk took us via the monastery at San Anton founded by the Antonine Order in the 11th century. This was used as a pilgrim hospital in the Middle Ages where they specialised in healing St Anthony’s Fire (fungal infection leading to gangrene and death!). I didn’t linger.

 Castrojeriz can be found another 3kms from the monastery. This is the large (tiny) town of the local area without a bank nor a pharmacy. In fact there isn’t a bank nor a pharmacy for 30kms until I reach Fromista so it looks like, once again, I’ll come to rely on the kindness of strangers for nuts and beer as I’ve only €7 left in the wallet! Castrojeriz did have a 14th century church and a medieval castle, neither use nor ornament! (Well, yes, ornament).

 Sunflower and wheat fields line the route to Itero in no particular pattern that I could fathom. The climb to the Meseta’s flat top was made a little more slow and painful due to the 20 kilos on the back/front and 34 degree heat but otherwise, the day’s walk was fairly simple and uneventful on beautiful countryside tracks.

 Which leads us into the small town in which I’m billeted today, Itero de la Vega in the new province (new to my journey, not new in Spain) of Palencia. There’s very little here, a couple of bars and Alberges and a closed church but nevertheless it was worth the effort to explore the town because finally, after two weeks of looking, the storks were finally home to roost.

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