Leaving Castrojeriz there is nothing else for it than to go up and over that hill. You can see it for miles before you get there, and the sign warning you about the 12% incline is not adding to the enthusiasm. The first time I walked over it I wasn’t aware it was coming and had done some light roadside surgery on my heels the night before. (Not recommended.) I don’t actually mind it now, because I know the views are marvellous up there. So up I went, stopping every so often to enjoy the view and the sunrise over Castrojeriz (read: get my breath back) and taking it nice and slow.
Half way up I was overtaken by Andiana Jones, who walked up with me. At the top was David, and so we carried on across the little plateau together until we got to the downhill, which is signed 18% decline… Glad I had my Pacerpoles as handbrakes.
Then it was on to the meseta proper, all golden dust and harvested wheat and the odd bright yellow sunflower nodding from the fields. On and on with the meseta views right and left, past Itero de Castilla, with a stop in San Nicolas to get a stamp – they offered a cup of coffee or biscuits or one of 8 beds if any pilgrims wanted to stay. Even St James had hand sanitiser at the ready.
In Itero de la Vega we wanted to go to the Mochila albergue and enjoy a drink and a rest in the lovely garden, but it was closed, so we had an omelette and an Aquarius in the first bar instead. It was getting really hot though so we wanted to hurry up and get to Boadilla 8 kms away. Basically we were in for two hours of walking in the heat with no shade, so no point in leaving it too long. I set up my new bit of kit, an Euroschirm sun protective umbrella/parasol with extendable handle that clips on to the backpack straps, to give me my own personal hands-free bit of shade from the sun. Her name is Polly the Parasolly (obvs) and it might look odd but it really works!
I am glad David kept me company or those hours would have felt even longer. When we could finally see the church in Boadilla I swear someone was slowly pulling it away as we tried to get closer.
In the end we did arrive though, and what a place to arrive to. The meseta jewel of an albergue still has beds available, but food and drink are served in the hotel next door, where I had a room. The albergue hospitalero, Eduardo, who is a bit of a camino legend, was in charge of check-in, I believe the hotel is owned by his brother. We were welcomed like long lost family and told to sit down, chill, rest, have a drink, there was no hurry to check in, pay or do anything but enjoy arriving. So that’s what I did.
Finally I went up to my comfortable and cool room, had my lovely shower, got my laundry done and hung it out – it was bone dry in an hour. No point in going out into that blistering heat so I just stayed in the garden room and wolfed down first a two course lunch, and later another main course when David and Ohio joined me for pilgrim dinner. There may have been drinks too. I really like getting rooms in nice places in the middle of nowhere, as you get more time to enjoy the room and facilities when you don’t feel the need to sightsee or run around looking for your travelling companions – they are right there in the same building. I have been to the albergue as well as the hotel before and am already booked to return.