Via de la Plata – Day 20: Granja de Moreruela to Tábara

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27 kilometers, 6 hours. Over a bridge called Puente Quintos and the River Esla onto one or two kilometers of rugged single track. Then through Faramontanos de Tábara, mostly on farm track. Mostly in a light rain.

Interesting evening last night: When I entered Granja, I made my way past the suggested municipal albergue (hostel) to its associated bar to check in and pay for the night. There, I found the least hospitable bartender I had ever met. Not just with me, but especially so. I asked for a small beer and inquired about the albergue. She just said something like, give me your credential. Okay fine.

I laid out my pilgrim credential, and she gave me a registry to fill in my own information. A rather simple affair: name, passport number, date of birth, country of residence, etc. She perfunctorily stamped my credential and left it where it lay. (For more information on the pilgrim credential, click here.)

Most places do the registry themselves, and most are very fussy about your credential being properly completed. It must be accurately filled out, and other stamps may not bleed onto the opposite page. The bossy, rude young woman could not have cared less.

About then, the couple from Australia I had met before, Mike and Cici, popped in for a drink before catching a bus back to Zamora for the night. We chatted about all sorts of things (including American politics), and then they headed out. By then, there was a different bartender, another young woman.

For slideshow, click on imagine.

I asked how much I owed for my beer and for the albergue. Blessing was, this new woman told me there was no hot water at the albergue. Ugh! Okay, is there another? She directed me, pointing through a window, to go down the street to the church and turn left. Then, I would need to go two blocks, and there would be a casa rural (guest house). All this in rapid Spanish. My ability to grasp Spanish was improving everyday. By necessity.

So down the street I would go following her directions to the country home. There, Marisal opened the gates of Casa del Tio Quico and happily ushered me into the courtyard. Once inside the house, I met Carmelo, a Spanish pilgrim walking in the direction of Astorga the next morning. He had much the same episode I had at the bar. When he found out on his own that there was no hot water at the albergue, he left his five Euros as a donation, not wanting to return there and have a similar experience to his first, I supposed.

Casa rurals are people’s homes with extra rooms for rent. They are usually more expensive than albergues, but they are cozier and have more amenities. Casa del Tio Quico was very comfy—and warm.

Not wanting to go back to the bar for dinner, I asked Marisal about a tienda (shop) nearby. Indeed, there was one just down the street, and I went for provisions for the night and the next day. I made my dinner in the kitchen, and I later sat in the very nice living room, writing and reading for the evening. All good.

I had a bed in a loft above Carmelo’s room and was asleep by 10:30. Would have been earlier, but the family started fixing dinner at 9:30.

Following an evening when the Camino did indeed provide—a warm place and hot water—I walked through heavy midday rains and cold winds that followed. I spent the afternoon and night at an albergue run by José Almeida. José was the author of eight books about the Camino.

Costs: The Tábara albergue was a donativo (for a donation) affair, meaning donate what you will. So, for the night, a hot shower, José doing my laundry, afternoon tapas and wine, dinner and wine, and breakfast, I left €40. Oh, I left out the variety of locally made liquors we sampled en la tarde y con la cena (in the afternoon and with dinner).