The strong 25mph headwinds made today’s 22 kilometer trek to Belorado quite challenging. We felt as if we were carrying extra weight fighting against the violent winds pushing us back to Santo Domingo. We plowed through 7 km’s to Grañon, the last village in the beautiful Rioja wine region. Bar Teo, the only town bar, served up great breakfast egg sandwiches and espresso coffees. Leaving the bar we noticed “Panaderia Jesus”, and took a photo. A Spanish pilgrim walked out and told us we had to try some of the delicious cookies. We wound up buying a few chocolate cookies with nuts for the remaining long windy 16km walk ahead.
A few kilometers after Grañon, we reached the border crossing into the Castile y Leòn region. No more vineyards….. just dry open farmland ahead. Supposedly, Castile got its name from the numerous castles build in the region during the Reconquista. Hopefully some castle ruins remain for us to see along the way. In the next 12 km’s, we passed through three small villages; Redecilla del Camino, Viloria de la Rioja and Vilamayor del Rio. They are equally 4 km’s apart from each other, which was a pleasant way to break up the monotonous walk through dry farmland. And! I spotted a few cute cats along the way!
The last 5 km’s to Belorado became violently windy. Everyone we passed was struggling to make it to the village. Relief came over us when we finally reached Belorado’s first albergue. Pilgrims from around the world were welcomed by the albergue’s colorful flags of all nations. Belorado is an adorable small town with history dating back to pre-Roman times. At one time it also had a thriving Jewish community, but of course, as most other towns in Northern Spain, they were expelled by the Catholics during the 14th century. There is a feeling of hospitality to pilgrims, as we found several murals and information signs relating to the Camino. I assume this may have to do with Santo Domingo’s ties to building the town.
Brett chose a fantastic accommodation at Casa Waslala on Calle Mayor. The Pension was opened by previous pilgrims, Paul (Dutch) and Belmalyn (Nicaraguan). The couple lived in Nicaragua when Paul decided to do the first portion of the Camino to Burgos with a Dutch friend. He enjoyed his experience but felt the albergues along the way lacked the warm and friendly feeling he was hoping to find as a pilgrim. Upon returning to Nicaragua, he and Belmalyn decided to leave their lives and jobs to move to a Camino town in Spain. Paul remembered Belorado’s pretty town square and went back to find the perfect home. Belmalyn soon followed and they opened “Casa Waslala”, dedicating their days to welcoming pilgrims into their home.
The warm and cozy environment they’ve created is a perfect home away from home. Paul and Belmalyn have since completed the Camino together and feel so passionate about helping other pilgrims to have a good experience on their own journey. It’s been hard for us to find true local people who really care and understand what you are going through as a pilgrim. Paul and Belmalyn understand and go out of their way to make your stay at Casa Waslala an unforgettable experience.
An optional part of their accommodation is a home cooked dinner. We had a delicious meal with a wonderful french couple, Georgia and Jean-Yves. During our time in the Camino, we have had a difficult time connecting with French people, as they seem disinterested in making conversation. This is especially true if you do not speak French. Georgia and Juan-Yevs were a lovely couple in their sixties, who we actually had quite a lot in common with. When they were our age during the late 70’s, before children, they took a year to travel around the world. We shared travel stories, talked philosophy, as well as our spiritual journey on the Camino. We will add a photo of them when we meet again!
See our Photo Album:
El Camino: Day 11 (Santo Domingo de la Calzada to Beldorado)