El Camino: Day 19 (Moratinos to El Burgo Ranero)

Posted on 02 October 2012 by christie

Left to Santiago

Only 315km to Santiago! I think this sign is actually a bit optimistic, it’s more like 375km left!

The quiet deserted town of Moratinos allowed us to have one of the soundest sleeps of the Camino. While still dark outside, we woke up to meet our pilgrim friends Al and Ronda (from British Columbia) for breakfast. Their Hostal Moratinos is run by a kind German couple. We had our first vegetable egg omelette in a long time, and it came with lovely pumpernickel bread.

Although the sun was just rising, several pilgrims were arriving in Moratinos from Terradillos de Templarios. I can not believe how early people set out while it’s still pitch black outside. I wondered why? What’s the reason to do the Camino in the dark? Do they not want to see Spain or the Camino? I have yet to answer this question….. but, I have a few hunches. Several pilgrims leave early to be the first to arrive at their choice of albergue. Many albergues fill up so fast, it’s a race for pilgrims to claim their bed. While this may be understandable, aren’t these pilgrims missing the Camino’s spiritual essence by rushing through it each day?

Arch of San Benito

17th century “Arch of San Benito”. At one time was the facade of the 9th century Monasterio de San Facundo’s church

By the time we finished breakfast and packed our bags, our start time was 8:45am. We had a long 30 kilometer day ahead to Burgo Ranero. Al was excited to stop after 3 km in San Nicolàs del Real Camino. His saint is Saint Nicolas. We soon continued on 7 more km to Sahagùn. It’s a larger town, but besides some church ruins and a few shops there is not much charm to Sahagùn. We took a “cafe con leche” break before continuing the rest of our 18 kms. Leaving Sahagùn took some time, as we ran into several other pilgrim friends from France, Ireland and Canada.

Fabbi couple

Chatting with friends along the Camino

Brett chatted with Al and I with Ronda, passing the next few hours. Before we knew it, we reached El Burgo Ranero. What a long 30 kilometer day, but thankfully we had new friends to pass the time.

When Brett and I arrived at our hotel, our shipped backpack (mochilla) was on the floor of the busy bar/restaurant. No one was watching over it. We couldn’t even find a person that worked at the hotel. Annoyed about our unguarded bag, we took it and left the hotel. Further up the Camino we found the area where most pilgrims were staying and luckily found a room at a nice Hostal called “Piedras Blancas“. Burgo Ranero is quite small with only 826 residents (National Statistics Institute of Spain), so there are only two hostels and one albergue.

Guitar player

Pilgrim guitar player relaxing other pilgrims with his music

We saw many familiar faces and had dinner with Dee Anne, Al and Ronda. We were happy to see everyone, except for the creepy French pilgrim bum. This is the guy who keeps asking us for cigarettes, boos and money. Yes, there is a pilgrim (with many missing teeth) who has been showing up at every place we stop the past few days. The first time we saw him, he asked for a cigarette, we said we didn’t smoke. Then he made an announcement voicing he had no money and asked “Who would like to invite me to a glass of white wine?”. He looked at us, and Brett said, “sorry not me”. He said, “what a pity”. Since then, we’ve been seeing him everywhere. He turns up at bars, restaurants, and even churches asking other pilgrims for smokes and vino. While in Martinos, Martinys (from Kaunas, Lithuania) told us that he’s been traveling with no money for 10 years! It’s crazy that he has no money and expects poor pilgrims to pay for his way. The sad thing is I think he is making quite a living out of taking advantage of pilgrims. One women at the table next to us gave him 5 euros.

We saw him again tonight, first he came into the restaurant/bar asking for wine, then he was sitting on the bench out front of the albergue all night. I’m not sure where he sleeps. Some say he goes to the church at night and begs the Priest to sleep on the church floor. Needless to say, we have been extra cautious about where we leave our bags.

After two back-to-back 30 kilometers days, our bodies are exhausted. Tomorrow we are going to sleep in a bit and take it easy with a 20 kilometer walk to Mansilla de las Mulas on tap.

See our Photo Album:
El Camino: Day 19 (Moratinos to El Burgo Ranero)

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