In haste to bring you the latest and greatest news from the Camino, Frank and Mikey forgot to mention two very important things: we have already entered the Meseta (or high plains) stage and are officially halfway to Santiago!!
Let’s pause to explain a bit about the Meseta. Spanning much of central Spain, the Meseta is a high plateau surrounded by mountains that we both have and will climb. In theory, this sounds picturesque. In actuality, the feeling wears off quickly and one is left with only an unending and bleak flatness in all directions. (Think of traversing the plains of Kansas on foot!)
There are three basic stages of the Camino: 1) Physical: this primary stage begins with a hike over the Pyrenees and continues with other mountains within the first week and a half. 2) Mental: this second stage is a bit less physically challenging, yet many give up or avoid it due to sheer monotony and lack of visual stimuli. 3) Spiritual: perhaps this is the last chance to reflect on ones journey along the way and the greater journey to which he will return. We will enter this stage in about a week’s time.
Meanwhile, below is an example of the “second stage” phenomenon known as the Meseta. Very beautiful, but very vast and unchanging.
We began the day with lots of threatening clouds and a chance of showers. While Mikey and Frank are (by now) no strangers to inclement weather, the Meseta further complicates walking due to its utter lack of shelter. Thus, the sun beats down with no chance of shade and a sudden thunderstorm could turn unsuspecting pilgrims into Camino lightening rods.
Luckily, the rain held off and we enjoyed some clear skies later in the afternoon. Note the rather ornate Camino marker in this picture. It is yet another example of how varied our guideposts can be. (By the way, this picture was taken some 18 miles after the previous one. The Meseta can really be that monotonous!)
Oh, you must be wondering about that dinner, right?! By popular demand, we are unashamedly posting pictures of our daily meals now. The new rule is: Mikey translates the menu and Frank reminds him to photograph whatever shows up on the table. This system could easily break down, so apologies in advance!
Anywho, this is a garbanzo bean stew with pork jowls. (Think chickpeas and Nixon’s face. 😬) Actually, we had (by default) a private chef who recommended this and the following dish.
Oven-roasted rabbit with potatoes. Sorry Thumper, you’re as good as dead … Excuse me … you taste good!
And in Camino lore, there exists the popular Bar Elvis. It was hard, but Mikey resisted the open opportunity to make his spray painted mark on this fine establishment.
That was about all for Reliegos. We did some laundry and headed out early the next morning for Leon. Much to come about rain and another rest day in the city. Adios!