We were staying at the Hostal El Chocolatero in Castildelgado, which despite the promising name was more of a big stop for truck drivers. Nevertheless, Manu and his Czech friend Lenka were there, as, it turned out, was another Czech named Peter. Peter, apparently a very successful businessman in the Czech Republic, was doing the Camino as “mental detox.” We all ate dinner together, and Peter kindly paid for it all (and three bottles of wine). Needless to say, it was a lot of fun.

The funniest moment came when we ordered dessert. Manu chose fruta del tiempo (“seasonal fruit”), which, when it arrived, consisted of a non-seasonal green apple on a plate with a knife and fork. He traded it for ice cream.

Below: This morning, we stopped for half an hour in Villamayor del Río, a tiny village. It had a nice square with some swings and picnic tables, and it seemed like all the local animals were out, too.

Below: The locals all came out of their houses to watch us on the swings. Unusual behaviour though it might be, I imagine pilgrims go swinging every morning as they pass through town.

Below: The animals certainly knew what was up. As soon as we arrived, the begging began, and as we packed up our bags to leave, they started going through the trash for scraps.

Below: Another kitty in another trash can later in the day.

Below: Ori and Lenka.

Below: The weather was beginning to tend toward the “hot” side of things.

Below: Our albergue in Espinosa. It was one of the more eccentric places we stayed.

Below: The 60-year-old innkeeper, Pepe, had some interesting tendencies, like collecting all kinds of stuff. We were made to sit in his “collection room” before dinner.

Below: Some of his collections incorporated a certain “Templar” flair.

Below: His interest in weaponry may have also related to his former career; in the stairwell, there were assorted framed documents to do with his once having been a paratrooper.

Below: At dinner, which was very traditional and included paella. Note the plaid shirt on the German pilgrim at left. Dinner discussion topics included the population of Espinosa (“25, and that’s enough!”), the wine (“the wine is from La Rioja, and the tap water is from Burgos”), and other pilgrim trails around the world (including the Kumano Kodo trail in Japan).

Below: Outside Pepe’s albergue.

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