Any day that ends in Rionegro is good in my books because Rionegro is where the pilgrim can enjoy a gourmet meal for €10 at the restaurant, Me Gusta Comer. But more on that later.
The pilgrims at the albergue in Santa Marta set off in the chilly air at 7:00AM this morning. Since our communal dinner at Tábara, the six of us (me, Ewa, michael, Michaela, Santiago, Umberto) became quite a tight knit group. Yesterday evening we visited the church in Santa Marta together and cooked pasta with courgettes for dinner together. We had a chat with a cyclist at the albergue – Pere (Pedro) – but bicigrinos travel so much further than us each day. They’re not around for long enough to gel with the pedestrians. They must feel like swifts among pigeons. We prepared enough pasta to share with Pere but he disappeared at dinner time.
The walk from Santa Marta to Rionegro offers some interesting contrasts. The start of the walk is along straight, forestry roads with groves of birch trees in tidy rows on either side. After that it follows the river Tera through the villages of Calzadilla de Tera and Olleros de Tera where I stayed last year. (Sadly, the bar / albergue where I enjoyed homemade sausage and ham was closed today). Then it climbs toward a hydroelectric dam, and the footpath enters a dense woodland with lichen-covered trees. The view of the river from the woods feels almost Amazonian.
After crossing the dam, we saw the first signs to the Rehoboth albergue in Villar Farfon, where the delightful South African hospitalera, Dorothea, offered us coffee and biscuits to give us strength for the last 6km descent into Rionegro.
We joined Santiago for lunch at Me Gusta Comer – a long, lazy, meal with four courses, wine, coffee, and a “chupito” (a shot of fire water).
At the excellent albergue in Rionegro, I met “L.” and “I.” – a 17 year old boy and his adult companion. They’re walking thousands of miles on various Camino routes, as part of a program organised by the French organization “Projet Seuil,” which gives young offenders a chance to do something life-enriching instead of paying a penalty at a traditional institution. “L.” appears to be an earnest young man. I hope this experience gives him a new direction. “I.” is keeping a journal of the experience:
Off to join my travelling companions at the bar now. Some of them may go back to Me Gusta Comer for another menu de peregrino tonight. But I think I’ll be happy with a couple of tapas. One meal at Me Gusta is enough for one day – even a day when I walked 28km.