The last two days were two days where I kept walking across the Meseta. Yesterday no wifi was available in the monastery where the Auberge was located. That might be the only downside to that Auberge as for the rest it was one of the best. It offered private rooms and after just having walked 6 kilometers through a hailstorm I treated myself to this private room with private bathroom for an excellent night sleep. At first I was a bit afraid to be woken every hour by the clock of the monastery that seemed the be right above my room. However I noticed already before in a city that the church bells stop to announce the hour around 11 or 12 at night and start again at 6 or 7 in the morning. Luckily for me also in the monastery of Santa Clara in Carrión de los Condes stopped ringing the bell at 11pm and started again at 7am.
The Camino Francés is the route I am walking and for the most part it follows the route as described in the Codex Calixtinus from the 12th century. Over the centuries developments in the landscape obviously have taken place and it can very well be that where once was a trail for pilgrims it has over the centuries developed into a major road. In some cases the Camino follows that road and we are walking for kilometers alongside a highway. Sometimes there are alternatives.
Yesterday I decided in Población de Campos to follow such an alternative, the Camino Alternativo. It seemed as if I was one of the only ones. At a distance I saw most pilgrims walking alongside the highway for 10 km where I followed a slightly longer route, 6 km through the fields and 5 alongside the river. A very nice walk. The two routes connected in Villacázar de Sirga after which the Camino continued for another 6 km alongside the highway. That was the moment of the hailstorm so in the end I did not see the highway at all as I was walking while hiding in my raincoat and focussing on the path I was following. Ironically when entering the village of Carrión de los Condes the sun was shining and the environment looked as if it never had seen a hailstorm before.
Today started with a 12 km walk straight over the “Via Acquitana”, a grid road straight through the flat countryside with barely no options to rest along the road. Later in the Auberge I met up with three Northern Irish guys I have seen before along the route. They felt the “Via Acquitana” to be very boring while I enjoyed the wide views the road offered. It was long indeed, but beautiful.
Since the ending of that road the landscape looks to be changing again, from flat into rolling hills. Still very much focussed on grain production and no longer on wine as in the Rioja. A scary scene was to be walking alongside a bushfire in one of the ditches. Somehow it seemed normal for the farmer in the area as he did not pay any attention to it, but walking so close by this fire was strange and somewhat scary.