Sun 22nd Oct., Santa Marta de Tera to Rionegro del Puente, 27klms, ~ 36/38,000 steps
Today's theme popped into my head as we wandered along somewhere, and in the way of this funny old world of coincidences, was absolutely reinforced by a conversation at the tiny village of Villar de Farfon.
But let me first go back to the start of the day. Albergue life can have its moments based on sharing a dormitory with total strangers. I think that most pilgrims gravitate towards this life, but I like my space and privacy. And quiet. Our two dormitory companions had forewarned us that they snored, but let me say, kindly, that they seriously understated the reality. Janet wisely vacated the room at 10:30 to find a quiet place. I soldiered on, occasionally shaking the nearest bunk (where the main culprit was), thinking that surely he'll drift into a deeper sleep and peace will return to the world. Not so. They were still at it at 6:30am when I finally gave up any hope of proper sleep. I'm sure many have had very similar experiences
So within that context, today’s walk was excellent. I started out a bit dopey (the less kind would say that's normal), but as the day progressed I got fully into my stride and the 27klms just disappeared behind me/us.
I've mentioned before that the antiquity which surrounds us here still continues to grab me. Whether it's been the various Roman constructions and artifacts back on the Via, or the XI, XII century (and later) churches, or just the various buildings going back just a few centuries, compared to Australia's built form, well, there is no comparison.
Which in turn brings me back to a couple of things from yesterday. As we wandered into Santa Croya de Tera I saw quite a number of what I would call "rammed earth" or "mud brick" buildings (old houses I assumed) in a quite dilapidated state, on the edge of town. Here's one:
I wondered when the original structure was built (it was decades if not centuries old), and how come it had ended up in the state it had.
And this also in the context of the 1,000 year old (approx) Iglesia de Santa Marta, with its equally ancient stone carving of Santiago - see yesterday’s post. And for interest here's a night shot of said church:
I'm going to jump around a bit here. I'd been noticing quite a number of run-down/dilapidated buildings right alongside quite new ones.
The above is just a selection, and not something I had noticed just today - it is a noticeable trend in many of the smaller towns and villages we've walked through.
Late this afternoon we walked through Villar de Farfón, a tiny village about 6klms from where we are now. We spent some time chatting with Craig Wallace, initially from Zambia, and for the last 13 years living in Villar de Farfón, where he and his wife run Albergue Rehoboth . In the short time we were with him we spoke of many things, but relevant to this I was interested in the apparent paradox of this old/new mix.
I asked him how many people lived in his village - answer, 3. Which leads to; why are there some very nice houses next to the decrepit ones? It's a complex answer. Apparentlyin the 70s and 80s as the rural economy suffered the people of the village left for other parts of Europe for work. Decades later they returned to their ancestral village and built nice holiday houses (today they might live in Zamora or Salamanca or Valladolid or even Madrid, and come here only for holidays). Craig advised that they are in their 70s and 80s, and their families have no interest in living there. On top of that, the Via/Sanabrés cannot support (commercially) the towns along the way.
So these towns are all slowly dying. Tonight’s village (Rionegro del Puente) is suffering the same fate. Both local bars have recently closed, as has the panaderia. There's no tienda. Here there's a fabulous restaurant (more of that later), but Craig is of the view that chef Teo cannot keep going on small trade forever.
I make no judgements here - I'm simply reporting what I've seen and been told. I saw similar trends on the Camino Frances (or just off to be more accurate) years ago, and given the unique challenges of the Via/Sanabrés, they are magnified here.
I could have spent much longer talking to Craig but we needed to press on, so we left for the final 75 minute push to tonight's albergue.
I said I was jumping around. Going back to the start of the day, here's a few shots.
Leaving Santa Marta - the image on the sign is that of Santiago from the Santa Marta iglesia.
The Rio Tera, alongside which we walked for much of the day
Cornfields, before and after. As I understand it, the corn is primarily food for the "jamóns" before they are actually turned in jamón
It'll be less than this now.
Some shots of and around the Embalse de Ntra. Sra. del Agavanzal, including the hydro-power station and a dam selfie. Note also the further reminders of the 2022 fires.
The parroquia católica San Pedro Apóstol at Villar de Farfón (pop. 3), including one of its bells, dated 1822
At Albergue Rehoboth
Entering Rionegro del Puente
Out and about in Rionegro. It was cold btw ...
And now for the pièce de résistance. We dined tonight at Me Gusta Comer, straight across the road from the albergue. Doubtless the best meal we've had on the Camino. 4 courses, wine, bottled water, coffee and liquers for €15 each.
Fabulous. In no. 2, chef Teo at work.
There's more I could say, but time is agin me once more. Another biggish day mañana.