Camino Diary: Walking The Camino Francais Day Twenty

DAY TWENTY: 28 October 2012 The Meseta from Hornillos to Itero De Vega
Burgos is a million miles away. The clocks have gone back and my body is fully alerted by the cold, rawness of this early dawn. Standing at the Fuente Del Gallo (Hen Fountain) the narrow streets of Hornillos (Little Oven) are imprevious to the light fingered warmth of the rising sun. My routine is to get up, get out and get moving, stopping for breakfast when I am fully booted and operational. What I have observed on the Camino is that coffee stops are like buses; there are none at all or they are found together in jolly clusters. I have learnt to have a stash of emergencey rations, usually my ‘postre’ dessert fruit from the night before or some nutty dark chocolate which the Spanish seem to do rather well. Roncevalles (Day One) and Astorga (still to come) are just two of the unassuming purveyors of this food of the gods. There are those that would cast aspersions on my pilgrim credentials carrying the exquisite Brierly Guide with his comprehensive list of accommodation, detailed stage maps and descriptions and altitudinal profiles but personally not only do I find it useful to take a peek at a guidebook I also find it exceedingly pleasurable. I have a box full of maps I have collected over the years and one of my prize possessions is a framed 17th Century travellers map of Ireland. Appreciation of cartological creations takes me to a place where I can weave the practical and the magical together. Today is no exception. Hontanas looks like the most likely stop for desayuno. A robust 12km in big sky country, far removed from the autopista and motor traffic, a glorious morning of treading trampled paths across rumpled scrubby grassland. I so enjoyed my breakfast when it came and was grateful for the service of fellow pilgrim Carolyn who spotted my spectacles on the road just out of Hornillos – probably at the point I last checked my guide – and legged it to catch up with me. No specs, no reading, no reading, no maps and guidebooks, no maps & guidebooks and then where would I be?!

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