This blog is a record of my observations, experiences and crazy thoughts about my 800 kilometer pilgrimage across northern Spain: the Camino de Santiago de Compostela (April-May 2009).
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Day 19 - Rabe de las Calzadas - Saturday, 9 May 2009
Burgos -> Rabe de las Calzadas = 11.4K (476K to go!)
1330 – On a Bench in Front of the Albergue in Rabe
No one in this lovely albergue (Burgos) was up before 0700! I’m sure it is in part due to the huge party that was going on outside our window. They were in still dancing and singing at 0500!We pilgrims could hear the hoopla, but we were locked in for the night so we could not join in. We could only peer out the window at the excitement outside.
Last night, I limped around Burgos taking it all in. (My 40K walk left me stiff and tired.)
Burgos is a beautiful city. There are many large plazas, crowded with families strolling about and sitting at outdoor tables talking. The children are all polished up and wearing lovely clothes. I found a ringside seat at a charming café on the plaza and sat sipping a light, cool white wine and eating crispy calamari (fried squid rings) while I took it all in. After people watching a while, I walked a bit and discovered a merry-go-round at a lovely park by the river. The area between the river and the cathedral is a maze of plazas, fountains and temptations (food, spirits and fashions!). I stopped outside the cathedral to watch a happy wedding party.
The women are so dressed up. And I am like a street person limping along (blisters and strained muscles) in my bedraggled walking clothes and flip flops – my crazy grey-hair flying and my face devoid of makeup. People stare. A little girl tugged on her father’s sleeve and eyed me suspiciously. The father looked at me and then pulled the child aside and quickly moved on. Is this is what it feels like to be homeless or to be a street person?Without my pilgrim backpack, I probably looked like a homeless person.
This morning, I lingered a bit in Burgos. I wanted to visit the lovely castle. It is only open on Saturdays so I was pleased to be there on a Saturday. My stiff legs balked a bit as I climbed the many, many steep stairs up, up and up. I finally arrived, only to find the castle will not open for several hours. So, I elected to head out of town and forgo the castle visit. (Perhaps I should have just stayed a second night in Burgos.)
Walking in and out of cities takes a lot longer than simply walking the Camino across the countryside. There are so many opportunities to get lost. And I did. I managed to add a few extra kilometers to my journey getting lost near a large park near the edge of town. So a late start, too much sun, sore feet and legs, not a good day for me.
As I write this, I am sitting on a bench outside the albergue in tiny Rabe de las Calzadas. It looks charming and is adjacent to the local church. The albergue does not open until 1400. This is typical of most albergues - they open at about 1400. Pilgrims begin to queue up. In busy seasons it can be really hard to get a room.
A van just raced by, horn honking, and a guy jumped out, went to window next door, slid it open and thrust 2 loaves of unwrapped bread through. Home delivery! There is no store in this town. This is how the locals get fresh bread. In the olden days there would have been a local panaderia (bakery) and small stores here. There would also, no doubt, have been a weekly open air market. These days though, people have cars and those who live in small villages must drive to the nearest city to do shopping. Just like in rural America – small towns are dying out. I hope I will find something for lunch/dinner and breakfast. I have only a Snicker bar and some M&Ms in my backpack. (I probably should have stayed a second night in Burgos to re-supply and rest!)
I stopped in here today, because my smallest toe has a large blister which I need to treat once I am inside this albergue. I plan to be up and walking tomorrow at 0600 so I can get 20K in by noon. . It is a 9K walk to the next village.
Another Pilgrim limped up. B. is a delightful Canadian man who stayed at the albergue in Villafranca when I was there. He had terrible blisters and allowed someone to administer first aid there. His feet are still sore and he plans to stay the night here too. He has a dry sense of humor and quite a wit.
Here we sit in the noonday sun waiting for the albergue to open.
[Little did we know what evil lurked behind that albergue door! vjp]
In April 2009, I began my 500-mile trek across the rocky paths and mountains of northen Spain. I finished my walk on the the ancient Way of St James (the Camino de Santiago de Compostela) in early June 2009.
I consider this a pilgrimage of gratitude. Each step was an opportunity to express gratitude for the abundance life offers; each footstep, one of finding joy. It was a humbling experience. It was a character-building experience. It was a spiritual adventure and a physical one too - who knew I was such a mountain goat? I hope you will enjoy my rambling, stream of consciousness obeservations of my experiences as a pilgrim on this historic pilgrimage route that really is only the begining.
Of course veteran pilgrims know: the Camino never ends - once a pilgrim, always a pilgrim. So, wherever YOUR path takes you, I wish you "Buen Camino".