Stage 11. Friday, May 31. Belerado to San Juan de Ortega. Hugs as I head out the way & she prepares to journey back to USA. I know the morning ahead will present a steep incline of 1,100 km and warm temperatures. Early in the climb a young USA man gives the ritual “buen camino” that we all salute dozens of times daily as he passes me briskly with his 6’3” (at least)frame, striding about double or triple for every one of my steps. He makes brief, genuinely cordial conversation heading up the hill, and slows a bit as our dialogue weaves its way upward. Jack slowed his pace to walk the entire day with me: he surely would have / could have arrived more than an hour before me. We wandered through our life’s questions large & small, new & old, to Alto Mojapan & Alto Pedraja and our meandering conversation led us all the way to the door of the only albergue in San Juan de Ortega, ( population 20!) a monastery with large bunk rooms. We landed bottom bunks by the coveted window. Before diving into hand washing laundry and finding the showers, Jack generously invited me to join he & his Camino friends for pizza later. So kind hearted. While waiting for laundry to dry and for the pizza hour to open, I found ice tea and a man accompanying the teens on the school trip I’d been keeping step with for past few days. While he finished his coffee, he told me all about his school and how the youth in 2nd year high school have a lighter academic load to pursue arts, travel, and “food for the spirit” - I will be learning more about that. Went back to check laundry and heard what I believed was an amplified recording booming from the church, only to step inside and witness a pilgrims choir rehearsing. Sonic spiritualism. Visceral awakening. ... alas, eventually the rehearsal ended. Oh yeah, laundry & then Mass. Priest invited me to do the reading in English. Several pilgrims read in a mosaic of languages. Finally, time for pizza. Jack introduced me to Tim/USA, Sara/Portugal-now in Germany, Kristi/USA, & Trina/Australian most of whom I would reconnect with here and there in coming days. I could not keep up with the beer drinking but kept even pace with the laughter. Hit my bottom bunk with fresh air window.