Along the way from Camponaraya, after you cross the overpass of the autovia, a truck full of blue-black grapes passes. The truck stops and the smiling face with a five day stubble directs you to help yourself to a taste of the fruit of the Campos. The truck stops for every pilgrim it passes. It is harvest time and later in the Rip van Winkle pueblo of Valtuille de Arriba a crummy of field hands rumbles by all smiles and waves.
The day before at Casa Del Reloj in Molinaseca, we thought the day had been long enough so that nothing more exciting would happen. Wrong again.
In burst 5 tall and handsome caballeros, one in full length tin duster. "Somos los amigos de Antonio Rojo." We are the friends of Antonio Rojo. Antonio is the owner of the family estate which includes the Pension as well as a shaded field across the street where the horses can be quartered. We hear them whinnying and neighing as the sun drops from the sky. Early in the morning we will hear them rustling in the field as they forage for breakfast.
These are hombres one must rise to greet, if for nothing else than to feed a bit on their exuberance and energy. They hardly wait for our pilgrims to turn around. Introductions are in Spanish and English. They speak excellent English and must know first the names and homelands of the girls in the room. Cowboys are similar everywhere I suppose. These men possess a rough elegance with style that charms immediately.
They must be the same caballeros we saw riding atop the pile of rocks that support the Cruz de Ferro. They ride to Santiago and we find their mounts have left some evidence of their passing in the middle of the Calle Real, the gut of the town.
Well, back to VillaFranca and our charming hosts at Albergue La Piedra a young and very capable couple named Livia and Unai. As usual Conan the golden retriever is there at the door to greet us. But it is not possible to walk him down to the river for a swim because it is too cold out for his hair to dry before the next morning. But you know he would accompany you there given half a chance.
Unai and Livia first ask all if they would like something to drink or eat before anything else. Then Unai offers to carry your pack upstairs to your room. Now we can relax for we are in very good hands. Our hosts will even wash and dry our laundry for a mere 5 euro, delivered to you door.
Mas tarde, Livia's delightful mother Paula arrives to work the reception so Unai and Livia can have a little rest in the evening. In the morning she will prepare the desayuno and make the stamps for our credentials.
Then it is time to don our packs and see what can be found up ahead.
(NOTE FROM ANNIE) I'm sorry if these photos are not in order. Joe can sort them out when he arrives home.