by Craig Randall
January 14, 2005
Santo Domingo de la Calzada is a town born of the Camino. Centuries ago, the hermit Domingo had a dream that told him to create a clearing through the local forests in order to facilitate pilgrim traffic through this area. He dedicated the remainder of his life to this endeavor. His reward? Hey, having a neat little town named after you is pretty cool. Domingo was beautified and canonized for his life's efforts.
The albergue in town is one the best along the road. From the look of things, this seems to be quite the popular way station for pilgrims, too. Although we didn't stop for the night here, we did go upstairs and share lunch with those who had. The caretaker downstairs was as cordial as any we would meet along the way. A cynic would think that, with all the pilgrim traffic, those who are in the caretaking line of work would tire of the constant influx of weary travelers. But that's definitely not the case in Santo Domingo, and certainly not anywhere else that we saw.
Although we didn't stay long in Santo Domingo, we were impressed by the yesteryear charm of this little hamlet.
The road from Santo Domingo to Villafranca Montes de Oca is fairly flat and presents a welcome respite from the constant roller coaster that has been the road to Santo Domingo. That will all change as you get just outside Villafranca.
We stopped for refueling (which basically consists of a few granola bars, some oranges, and an Aquarius, which is the Euro equivalent of Gatorade, thanks to Coca-Cola) in Belorado.
We found out another neat thing about the camino as we entered Villafranca Montes de Oca. We got in about 3:30pm, and the local church was closed. Upon reflection, I realize that the church was probably closed not because of the hour, but because it's normally closed. At any rate, we wanted to get a stamp on our pilgrim credential, so stopped in at the last bar on the road out of town. We asked where we could get a stamp, and the bartender replied "Aquí". At that point, we knew that wherever we went along the camino, whenever we arrived, we'd find a "sello" (stamp) waiting at a bar, hotel, or wherever.
From journal The Camino de Santiago - Spain