Via de la Plata – Day 21: Tábara to Santa Marta de Tera

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24 kilometers, 4 hours and 30 minutes. Took the slightly longer, original Camino route through Bercianos de Valverde. Not much reason to, other than it was the proper route, according to some people.

There was no Wi-Fi at the albergue (hostel) in Tábara, for José’s own Camino purist reasons.  Although José did not speak English, and José’s albergue was a bit eclectic, I found him to be very welcoming and to truly embrace all things Camino de Santiago. The albergue was well away from the town center, so after showering and settling in, I planned to find a bar with Wi-Fi in the town center and to have a glass of wine. As I went to leave the albergue, a younger Spanish man visiting José asked if I would like to join him at the dining table and have some wine and pinchos (snacks).

Okay, not wanting to be rude, desiring that type of local experience, and not really needing the Internet, I said, “Sure,” and I sat down. Two lady friends of José’s were there, too. I was quickly kissed on both cheeks by both women and determined that they had started drinking much earlier in the day. After all, it was Saturday. Good fun.

The younger Spanish man interpreted the conversation when needed and was quite evasive when I asked where he was from. He never did say, but he spoke English with a British accent, had lived some time in England and in the US, served a one-year stint in the Spanish military, and—near as I could discern—had never really worked any other job. Kind of a professional student I gathered.

For slideshow, click on imagine.

So the next day, on a very quiet Sunday afternoon, I was the only person in the Bar Stop in Santa Marta de Tera, diagonally across the main plaza from the albergue I stayed in that night, which was beside the village church. The church in Santa Marta is the main reason I wanted to stop there. It was built in the tenth and eleventh centuries. A thousand years old! I still have a hard time with that notion.

Reportedly, the oldest known statue of St. James as a pilgrim was there, but the church was closed.

Behind the counter at Bar Stop I saw three generations come and go, fussing with this and that and waiting for the late-hour rush of business. A woman appearing to be in her early forties served me a coffee and made a sandwich for my lunch. A young man, presumably the woman’s son, got me the Wi-Fi password, and later his grandmother came in and cleaned at the espresso machine. A normal Sunday afternoon.

The municipal albergue where I stayed the night was renovated the previous year and was very modern and sparkling clean. And there was hot water. I found my way through a maze of fancy new wooden doors and noticed that the place was empty. I claimed a bunk away from the door to one of the dorm rooms and near to the heater, and then I went off to a hot shower before heading to the bar later for something to eat and to use the Wi-Fi.

Costs: €5 for the albergue, €3.50 for lunch, and €9 for dinner.