Wednesday, September 15, 2021: It rained all day yesterday and into the night. Today the air was fresh and the sky was cloudy which isn’t so bad — there’s no shade here so cool and cloudy is ok. Today’s distance is only about 6-7 miles so it will be an easy quick day.

I reached Villamentero and not to my surprise it’s in the middle of nowhere and surrounded by fields of wheat. Villamentero has a population of 11.

Amanecer is the name of the albergue we are staying at and it is surrounded by green bush trees with an opening that reveals a wonderland of sorts.

Enter into the nirvana oasis of Villamentero complete with baroque music (until 10:00 am) followed by the Macarena and other lively hits.

The man who runs the place, Marcello, has created his own reality … a combination of art, music, animals, and an array of creative places to sleep. Everybody who walked by stopped in for coffee, a beer or a bocadillo. It was very inviting and welcoming environment.

We renamed this place “Animal Farm” because we were surrounded by animals and farmland. Donkey’s, sheep, geese, chickens, cats, dogs, birds and more. It was a nice (crazy) change of pace.

Casetas which have two beds cost about $30 per night.

Many options were offered in addition to beds. There were cute little Casetas (cabin) for two.

Very cute and cozy on the inside. I wonder if he charged extra for a light bulb for the lamp?
Would you like to sleep in a concrete tube? It’s kind of like a culvert.

Sleep in a concrete tube?? What??? Looking at it through American eyes we thought this was just crazy. However, our friend Kate from Australia informed us that during hot summer days, a concrete tube is a very cool place to sleep — literally. There is no air conditioning anywhere, so that might be a good option. Marcello also offered teepees, tents and hammocks. We opted for the usual bunk beds.

In this town of 11, there isn’t a lot of sightseeing to be done in its half dozen streets. There is another Hostal in town so we wandered over there for a drink in the hot afternoon sun. It was a little more elite and had a swimming pool. They spruced up the patio with pots of flowers but you could still see the old barns and farm equipment off in the background.

Hot sun, a pleasant patio and refreshing drinks by the pool.
It’s hard to hide the fact that we were in a small rural farming town.
I dared Theresa to sit in this little ornamental concrete chair.
And of course she accepted the challenge. This is how you entertain yourself when you are surrounded by farmland in a town with a handful of buildings in the middle of nowhere.
Church of San Martin de Tours served a town of 11 residents.

Next, we wandered over to the church that sat on a small mound of a hill. An abandoned tractor missing its tires sat in the church yard which was a patch of dry grass that badly needed rain. We did not think that a town of 11 people would have a functioning church and it certainly would be locked. Wrong! The church was open and their was a woman attending it.

The ceiling featured a Mudejar style art which is a type of ornamentation used in the Iberian Christian kingdoms, primarily between the 13th and 16th centuries.

Mudejar art was typically done by Muslims living under a Christian King. The Mudejar builders were Muslim artisans who were permitted to stay and were employed to build the new churches and palaces in the reconquered territories.

Each resident could have their own pew.

We were impressed with the beauty of this humble little church. It makes me wonder how a village with such a small population can keep a church open. Well … in Spain there is no separation between church and state. Some funding probably comes from the state to help keep this historic site open. The majority of the churches are Catholic and they all contain interesting and beautiful artwork and sculptures … Spanish splendors!

Back at Animal Farm. The grey geese were always watching us.

Marcello was making a feast for the half dozen guests staying overnight. Most of the Peregrinos continue walking to the next town, Carrión, which is much bigger and offers an array of accommodations.

Dinner was amazing! A beautiful salad followed by five or six different local dishes. The platters were rotating around the table and the wine was flowing. Marcello is a man of many talents.

Sitting next to me is Inessa from Russia, Gabrielle from Paris, Antonio and Juan from Barcelona and at the end which can’t be seen are Theresa and Michael from Ireland. Everyone spoke some English and we tried to say a few things in Spanish. It was a lovely dinner.
Antonio and Juan from Barcelona … when they heard we were from Minnesota they were excited and I knew why … Ricky Rubio!

When you cross paths with English speaking Spaniards, the magic words are Ricky Rubio. Even though he no longer plays for the Minnesota Timberwolves, they like to associate him with his Minnesota years.

Rubio is a rock star with the Spanish because he became the youngest player ever to play in the Spanish ACB league at the age of 14 in 2005. In 2009 he was drafted with the fifth pick in the first round of the 2009 NBA draft by the Timberwolves making him the first player born in the 1990s to be drafted by the NBA. Currently he plays for the Cleveland Cavaliers.

If you want to strike up a conversation with Spaniards, it pays to know Ricky Rubio history and to be from Minnesota.

For desert, melon was served. This was a sweet type of honeydew-like melon. Very flavorful … muy delicioso!
Some of the locals came by after supper. We enjoyed listening to them as they took turns playing instruments and singing.

The stars were out and it was very pleasant to listen to guitar strumming and local folk music. A nice way to end the day.

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Jane is a resident of Browndale neighborhood in St. Louis Park, Minnesota.

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