Love this photo of the four of us waving from the ancient bridge at Puente Duero last evening…
This morning we were invited to breakfast with Arturo for 2 euros. I declined as I don’t drink tea or coffee and don’t really want anything to eat that early. We peregrinas posed for a photo with the hospitalero before setting off – note Eli looking particularly proud of the new staff that Arturo gifted her.
We walked through our last section of pine forest early this morning – alongside the road until reaching the very pretty town of Simancas where we stopped for a hot drink.
All along the following stretch of the camino are metal sculptures denoting (mostly) pilgrims making their way towards Santiago de Compostela. We couldn’t resist posing in front of the first such sculpture, but thought it best not to try and replicate the second (second compilation, top right)!!
Leaving the pine trees behind us, we were now on the high plains of the meseta. A boring slog to some, but a joy to me – seeing such vast stretches of bright green crops with barely a tree to interrupt the vista. I do prefer an undulating track as the ankles get very stiff when constantly in one position, but the views topped by a brilliant blue sky and fluffy white clouds was more than enough to make me a happy hiker.
There was another tiny village a few kms further and then we reached Wamba at around 20 km. It is incredible that all these small villages have at least one huge, ancient church at their centre. Wamba conforms to this pattern, boasting the church of Santa Maria de la Osario. A Camino Forum friend who had passed by this village on several occasions without being able to gain access to the church, asked that if the church was open I could take some photos for her. I came prepared, having asked Arturo the previous evening about opening hours, he had written down a couple of telephone numbers for me. As expected, the church was closed when I arrived, so I duly made a phone call and was instructed to visit the Farmácia opposite where they would tell me where the town hall was. In the event the lovely ladies in the farmácia took charge of the situation and summoned the señora who is responsible for opening up. She arrived within fifteen minutes and Marilyn, Eli and I entered the stone built church for a tour.
It was very impressive, with a font dating from the sixth century, a column from the tenth century, and most other parts ranging from the thirteenth to sixteenth centuries, including some beautiful wall paintings and stone carvings. We were then led to an internal courtyard and the señora hefted open a sturdy door and ushered us in to a small room, whereupon we were shocked into silence. We were told by the guide that the room is lined on three sides with the skulls and bones of 2,000 villagers from a period ranging from the thirteenth to eighteenth centuries. However Wikipedia tells me the number is more than 3,000 and the remains of monks. Eli read that the remains were the result of wars, plagues and pestilence. But however many, and whoever they were, it was a rather shocking experience to be suddenly exposed to so much death.
After the church tour we found a particularly nice bar for lunch. After much discussion Eli and I ordered bean and meat soup. We were slightly puzzled when a large tureen of noodle soup arrived, but as it was quite tasty, we just got on with the job in hand and ate the lot. Then we were unexpectedly served with a bowl of chickpeas and cous-cous croquettes, and then there appeared a huge plate of mixed meat – beef, pork, chorizo and morcilla. We were actually quite full after the noodle soup, so we invited Paul in to help demolish some of the leftovers and we packed up the meat for supper.
All that food, and still around 7 km to walk. My stomach was not happy and kept sending signals to remind me!
We arrived at Peñaflor de la Hornijo at around 16:00. It has a nice albergue which my notes tell me has 12 beds, but there are only eight in evidence, split between two rooms. There is a good kitchen, a large open-plan bathroom, and a scruffy garden that catches the afternoon sun. A charge of 3 euros is made for this little gem. What excellent value!
Today’s distance 28.8 km
Accumulated uphill elevation 234 m
Accumulated downhill elevation 79 m
Total distance 255.1 km
Average per day 25.5 km
What a fabulous day though not sure I would have enjoyed the skulls….. You are seeing some amazing places. It looks as though the weather is improving too which can’t be bad! x
I am truly enjoying your blog, I leave for my 100 trek from Porto Portugal to Santiago tomorrow, start my walk on the 6th. Question…….did you bring your hiking poles in the airplane or did you have to check them through? thank you…
Hi Cachy. You will need to check your hiking poles. Or you could buy some in Porto.
What an amazing day, even the gruesome find in the church!
Love the photo of the four of you on the bridge Maggie, clever!! Arturo sounds like the perfect hospitalera. I’m delighted for you that the weather seems to be warming up. I hope you are enjoying this Camino as much as I’m enjoying reading about it. Buen Camino xx
I would be shocked to find this skulls in the church OMG!
I love your description and pictures Maggie. Buen camino!
Absolutely GREAT pics! I love the one of the 3 of you pointing with metal sculptures of pilgrims behind. What a beautiful and fascinating church! Your pics are quite artistic with the shadows…thanks so uch for sharing. Always look forward to reading your posts every morning with my cup of coffee. Springtime here in Oregon-very pretty!
Thanks Cathy. I’m really enjoying the company on this camino.
I have so enjoyed following your Caminos that’s I have decided to set up a blog on Word Press for our upcoming 3 month trip to Tanzania, Zanzibar, Morocco, and Spain. Thank you for all you inspiration. If you would like to follow me my name on WP is Swansong…Hope you’re doing well,
Bend, Oregon USA
Oh Cathy, what a wonderful trip you have planned. Practice posting to your blog before you set off, it takes a bit of getting used to. I shall definitely follow your progress. Buen via, Maggie
Oh, Maggie, thank you so so much! Wonderfrul pictures of the inside of the church at Wamba. Hope you enjoyed taking them as much as I enjoy seeing them! I guess I’ll just have to walk again to get inside.
Evora, Portugal is another place with a church with skeletons and bones hanging all over. Certainly does create a shocking reminder of our mortality.
You are so lucky to have good company! Buen camino, peregrina.
Two of them forum members Laurie. I have loads more photos of the church I will mail to you when I get home.
You have me seriously thinking about doing this route next year. And I don’t say that about every route! (Many but not all!) It is great to have you as the advance party. I was squinting at the photo at the top of the blog page, thinking “Gorgeous photo but I can’t see anyone waving” until I scrolled down to see the next one. Keep the updates coming.
I can certainly recommend it Clare
I knew the “up” would have to come. Lomg haul. Fascinated by the church secret. Gosh! What an experience. Your account sent veritable chills down my spine. I hope your digestive system has got over the beating you gave it!
Lots of very big ups and downs on the horizon. Hoping this stroll has put me on form!
Hi Maggie, I’m back reading your blog and so happy I did. In 2011 my husband Jim & I did the same walk. Good to see a picture of Arturo he is so kind and generous! Thank you for your posts.
Bon cameno , Siepi