Sunday, January 22, 2012

Pilgramage Day 12: Santo Domingo de la Calzada - Belorado

It's easy to find my way out of Santo Domingo de la Calzada in the early morning hours. I follow the river Oja a bit and cross it. Then I follow a gravel road a bit more until I get to the paved main road (N-120) and I follow this some kilometers. I find a sign pointing to a slightly larger village called Garñon. A peaceful village to walk through the early morning.

From Grañon I meet many pilgrims and we walk together. Since we walk in different paces, it does not take long before the group disbandeds and I'm left to walk alone again. The gravel road is good to walk on. I cross the river Villar and come, after a few miles, to another village, Redecilla del Camino. A large cross here tells us that here was the Pilgrim Hospital in the Middle Ages.


I travel to the village Castildelgado where there is a former monastery, named after the apostle Jacob, and a pilgrim hospital built by Alfonso the 7th. From here, I follow a trail to the village of Viloria de Rioja. It is said that Santo Domingo was born in this little town on May 12th 1019. The baptismal font, he was baptized in, is still in  the church here. The 30 people who live here are trying their best to preserve the memory of Santo Domingo. I go out of town and must follow the paved road (N-120) again in a few miles before I get to Villa Mayor del Río. 

 From here it is just 2 kilometers left to Belorado. This beautiful little village situated on the River Tiron and was an important place already during Roman times. There are remains of a Roman fortress here. I quickly find a private driven pilgrim hostel and take in here. The hostel is beautifully located and has a nice garden with shrubs and a well-tended flower garden.


  Inside it is very neat and clean. There are new legal requirements from the authorities in Spain to all who run pilgrim hostels regarding hygiene. There are high standards for keeping all of the rooms clean and especially keeping the mattresses clean for the pilgrims. There has been a problem with the pilgrims over the years because they have been both unclean and smelly. Out in all sorts of weather and unable to care for their personal hygiene, they have thus brought bedbugs and lice from place to place with them. This has caused health problems along the way for many. This is all over now. Most locations have good showers, clean bathrooms, and laundry room. Mattresses are replaced often and at some places I get paper sheets to lie on and these are thrown away the next day. I always use a sleeping bag which I have with me.

I make my pasta in the kitchen in the evening and drink wine I out on the lawn afterwards. Here I met a young man from Australia. It's fun to share today's experience with others and get some advice about the journey ahead of me. The sleeping rooms here have two bunk beds in each and we are 10 people here tonight. The place is only half full and there is plenty of room for everyone.

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