When someone switched on the light in the room I was sleeping in, it was a surprise to me to look over to where Kathy was sleeping to see that she was gone leaving just the bare bed. I was disappointed that she did not say goodbye or express to me her desire to walk alone. So, Kathy when you read this, “thank you for sharing three days of your Camino with me. I know you are on a tight deadline and I have a relaxed schedule. I wish you much success on your walk from Leon to Santiago. Also, much luck with the new job and much happiness in the years ahead.
I was up and ready to hit the trail at 6:30 am, the earliest I have started so far. Rogerio was just getting up as I said my goodbye with a reminder to stay in touch on his Camino journey. It was still dark as I headed up the trail behind the Albergue. My headlamp is probably still in Ruby’s glove compartment as I forgot to remember to pack it. I did have a small Led flashlight that I use to get to the bathroom at night. This became my light as I sought out trail markers on the path. The first ten kilometers was hilly terrain through some type of pine trees. There were places where tracts of land had been cleared by logging and piles of logs ready for transport.
It was serene walking thru this wonderland. Just as dawn was breaking, I saw a deer watching me through the trees. By the time I had unzipped by pack to get my iPad, the noise was enough to make the deer bound off through the trees. The trees finally gave way to open grazing land and at the 12.5 km I entered the town of St. Juan de Ortega at about 9:05 am. I passed the monastery where in 2010 restorations have begun to restore the monastery and church. The original church was constructed in 1492. That was a big year for Spain – massive development of land, churches and the discovery of the new world.
Most of the area was not accessible but I was able to capture a few photos. The small windows in the church were made of alabaster although it is hard to tell by the pictures.
Leaving St. Juan de Ortega, the path opened up into grassland. I crossed over several cattle guards but did not see any cattle only the cow pies they had left behind as reminders that they had been there. On a hillside just outside the village of Ages, I happened upon a labyrinth circle probably created by the village people below. It was very tranquil to walk the circle while having a 360 view of the area. To the north were a series of wind turbines making circles through the sky. To the east the forest of pine I had just walked thru. And to the south and west grazing land and the village of Atapuerca which would be my destination for today.
Just as I was entering the village of Ages, I finally saw the cattle heading out to pasture from the morning milking session. The farmer was in his jeep herding the cattle to where he wanted them for the day.
I stopped in Ages for a cafe con leche just to give me enough sustenance for a 2.5 km walk to Atapuerca.
Atapuerca is another UNESCO world heritage site. http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/989 I was hoping to be able to visit the caves but they are only open during the summer months. There is a museum in Burgos that I will visit on Saturday when in that city. There is also a conservation area hosting a variety of birds and marshland creatures. These wetlands are similar to Elizabeth Lake in Cranbrook. I spent a joyously delightful three hours in a bird blind. I was walking around the wetland trying to observe the various birds I saw. At one end of the first lagoon there was a fence blocking further advancement but there was a small building off to the right and I could hear voices. Earlier from a distance I saw a person walking in this direction with a tripod slung over their shoulder and I was hoping to find this person. I tried the door but it was locked. As I turned to go, the door opened and this man stuck his head out and I could see the camera equipment set up and see the wall with a poster showing birds of the area. There was also a young girl looking thru a scope. I asked if I could come and do some birding with them. The young lady was Eva Juarros (who spoke excellent English) and the photographer is Javier Otal. These two along with Diego Santamaria write and photograph for http://aveslagunasatapuerca.blogspot.com/. Eva’s scope was a Carl Zeiss 16 x 20 magnification and Javier had a Swarovski Optik spotting scope adapter making the lens a 800mm telephoto. They spend many hours each week documenting the birds in these wetlands. They do this purely for enjoyment. We saw a marsh harrier, a bearded reed tit, northern lapwing and a whole bunch of coots. It was a delightful way to spend the afternoon.
As I was returning to the Albergue by the church, the door was open and it was able to visit the inside which was built in 1895.
I had supper with Paivy and we caught up on our day of walking. I will probably leave earlier that her but our paths will probably cross between Burgos and Leon.
My joys of my day were:
Discovering a patch of crocus pushing their pretty pink faces thru the hard earth showing the tenacity to grow where they were planted and then trodden on by pilgrims who were probably oblivious as the pilgrims were too busy rushing to reach their next destination in hopes of finding a bed.
Walking the circle labyrinth. It provided a grounding for my day.
And, spending the afternoon in the bird blind with strangers I did not know but discussing a subject that was their passion.
Tomorrow I am heading to Burgos.
Hi Joy! I am just getting to read your blog! I sent you an email, so sorry about my quick departure, it was a bed bug paranoia and I thought I would see you in Atapuerca. I ended up walking all the way to Burgos in one day then bused to Leon. I so enjoyed our time walking together, and our day at Villoria de Rioja was one of my best Camino memories.