I have to admit, over the course of the day yesterday, I acclimatized to crowds again and didn’t mind them so much. Spent an afternoon exploring the ENORMOUS cathedral, and then a lovely dinner with friends. It was funny to see the difference between the number of people out during siesta before we went to the cathedral and then after our supper in the post-siesta time. I just can’t get used to everything closing in the afternoon here!
I slept poorly last night. I am sure that at least some of the blame lies on the top bunk. These bunks were higher than normal, and I kept having a nightmare about falling out of bed. Why are there no railings on bunk beds here??? So I was up early, and ready to go. Marty and Ed were too, and I was happy to go with them because I don’t love looking for way signs in a busy city in predawn hours. We stopped right at the edge of town at a restaurant just a little off the way. I think most people probably didn’t notice it and had to continue on the way quite hungrily. I had zuma de naranja – fresh-squeezed orange juice. The barkeep literally made it in front of our eyes. Delicious!
The way had us zigzagging around railroad tracks and highways and a weird subdivision until we had done basically a giant circle, but we were on the opposite side of the train tracks.
At second breakfast we ran into quite a group of friends again. These are always such cheerful times. Mariana regaled us all with stories of her childhood in Mexico. Even the pilgrims who were not at our table eventually stopped their own conversations to listen to her!
After our stop, I struck out on my own. Walking alone is always nice thinking time, although walking with others always helps time pass quickly. We passed out of the hills and were eventually on the meseta – the Spanish plains. This is a plateau running through central Spain and is quite poor soil quality. Stretching out as far as we could see were fields of grain, oats, and barley. We came down off the plateau into a ottos valley down a sharp, steep descent. We could see the town, which looked deceptively close. When you actually looked at the people ahead on the road, you could see how far away Hornillos was yet. Upon arrival there, I knew I wanted to stay. My knee was a little tender, and the next place to stop is still 10 km away. (My guidebook has a day’s walk end here anyway. Some guidebooks stop at the next place, a 32 km walk for the day! They essentially shorten my next four days into three days. Since I am not pressed for time, I see no reason to continue when pressing on might mean an injury.)
Marty, Ed, and I looked for an albergue in the town. We looked in one but the kitchen was tiny and we had decided to cook dinner together. We went across the street where we found an albergue that has only been open three days! It is a new building, so of course everything is nice and lovely and clean and delightful! We went to the bedroom to find our Irish roommates from last night, and, along with an American woman who came along soon after, expanded our dinner to include them. Fun times!
As we were walking the ten metres from supermercado to albergue, we came across a group of rather forlorn pilgrims. They had been hoping to make it to Hontanas (10 km away) but were suffering injuries. We told them to come check out our place. We should get discounts for our advertising!
Until supper is ready, I intend to intersperse stretching, reading, resting, and reflecting. Ah – a good day’s work on the Camino!

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