Day 11 — Fromista to Carrion de los Condes

We’re in Carrion de los Condes for the night; I’ve spent a chunk of the afternoon trying to find the meaning of Carrion in Spanish, without any luck. Carrion de los Condes was the Moorish name for the town, and the Spanish duke who took the area back from the Moors took the name Carrion, so presumably it’s OK.

Today was our first stretch of meseta, and we liked it. Anthea says, “Simple.” Jim says, “It was a walking experience, not a visual experience. And you could see the towns a long way ahead.” This stretch was not really flat, not like Illinois, for example. It was rolling, and there were some slightly uphill stretches. Much of the way was along a nearly dry river bed filled with tall grasses, and the banks lined with trees. A strong north wind cooled us all day, and the nearly level walking was a real pleasure. The path was mostly the dusty, rocky, sometimes gravelly surface to which we’ve become accustomed. Little bits of the brown-gray dirt would fly up, revealing themselves as grasshoppers. Small lavender-blue butterflies, the color of the chicory flowers swooped across our paths, along with white sulphurs and some that looked like fritillaries (this is for the lepidopterists who might be reading the account).

We left Fromista a little after 8:00 a.m. with a dozen other peregrinos, mostly ahead of us. But between our several stops to eat or get coffee, and the fact that one could choose between two routes (the river road was slightly longer), most of them got ahead of us. We arrived at our destination, Carrion, just before 3:00 p.m., and found the town lively with pilgrim cyclists, pedestrian pilgrims, and even a group wandering about, all of whom had sizable orange scarves that they were supposed to wear to identify them — some did, some didn’t. Our impression is that the way will be busier as we get closer to Santiago (257.4 miles left from Carrion).

The rest of the day was spent washing, napping, looking for food for tomorrow’s trek (about 10 miles with no services), and trying to find a place for dinner. It’s either bar food, if you want to eat dinner before 7:00, or wait until the restaurants open. We sat in a bar that had a promising dinner menu for a while, watching a bull fight on TV and waiting for the dining room to open — only to find that just because they posted a menu del dia, didn’t mean that they actually served one. And by the time we did find a place to eat, we had accumulated a couple more miles — our total for the day is around 14 3/4.

Tomorrow we’re walking on Roman road again. The author of our guidebook points out that part of this section goes through bogland that didn’t have any rock suitable for roads, so all of the stone had to be brought in. There doesn’t seem to have been any lack of stone and gravel so far, so perhaps they didn’t have to move it too far — nonetheless . . . what a lot of work. On Friday, we have another twelve-mile day, and then we’ll be in Sahagun to meet Regina. She called on Skype this evening to make arrangements.

And finally, Jim came up with the Camino ABC’s — albergue, beer, and credencials.

I took a lot of photos, trying to get the essence of the land we were walking on today. This one shows the sunflower fields (we saw a lot of them near Pamplona, but none in La Rioja), and in the far distance, mountains, with the land rolling away to the horizon. These sunflowers look fairly healthy; in some of the fields, the stems were brown, the flower heads small, and the whole field saddened. Some fields looked as if they had been burnt.

The roadsides, and often the Camino paths are edged by grasses and weeds, often prickly thistles with small purple flowers.

These sunflowers were brighter, and looked as if they might be grown to be cut flowers, rather than to produce sunflower seeds.

Meseta, with a town in the distance, and more than average number of trees..

Another stretch of meseta.

Anthea waiting to meet us on the outskirts of Carrion de los Condes.

A little “hobbit house” built into the side of a hill, outside Carrion.

Pilgrim art in Carrion — nearly every town that we go into has some sort of representation of a peregrino. This gentleman has the traditional cloak, staff with scallop shell and gourd (for drinking water), and the perhaps not quite as traditional tankard of ale (or jug of wine?).

People enjoying the river in Carrion.

The bullfighter on TV. A number of people were in the bars watching; mainly older men, perhaps because they didn’t have TVs in their homes, or perhaps because others didn’t want to watch the fight, or maybe just for the camaraderie.

Jim and Anthea waiting for dinner to arrive. Note the small jug for the wine — a fairly common way for it to be served if they don’t want you to see the bottle. This was a harsh red, but wine nonetheless. Jim has fizzy water.

Here’s a bit more information about the Way (from Wikipedia).

Pre-Christian history

The route[which?] to Santiago de Compostela was a Roman trade route, nicknamed the Milky Way by travellers, as it followed the Milky Way to the Atlantic Ocean.[3]

The Christian origin of the pilgrimage has been well documented throughout the centuries, but no historical reference has been found forpagan origins.

To this day, many pilgrims continue from Santiago de Compostela to the Atlantic coast of Galicia, to finish their journeys at Spain’s westernmost point, Cape Finisterre. Although Cape Finisterre is not the westernmost point of mainland Europe (Cabo da Roca inPortugal is further west), the fact that the Romans called it Finisterrae (literally the end of the world or Land’s End in Latin) indicates that they viewed it as such.

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