Awake, washed, Sunday shaved and ready to go at 6:30.
At 06:31, I unpack again because I’ve forgotten to cream up.
06:40. Ready to go again and off I go like a brave traveller in search of my boots, find them and go in search of breakfast. I step out into the early morning sunshine, take ten steps into a cafe directly opposite the Albergue, which, despite it being Sunday is open at this early hour. I buy a cafe con leche and two small bocadillos rather than the usual croissant.
There is a good reason for the change to the breakfast intake. We first-timers have been advised by some of the old-timers there is a stretch of walking coming up where the chances of food and water can be slim, and, that the meseta is an empty flat wasteland where your brain will be boiled by the raging heat and you can go mad as the flies crawl up your nostrils. All of that was to be proved a myth – well at least for today it will be.
The bread of the bocadillos is very hard, dry and crusty. It all but shreds my gums and the roof of my mouth. I put years and years of practice of eating unusual food in unusual places to good use and accidentally bite a hole in my lower lip. Now I truly am eating a “bloody bocadillo”.
As I eat breakfast and drip blood onto the table I recall last night’s conversation with Kevin and Chase. I’m pretty sure they won’t mind me telling you about Chases’ car accident sometime ago back home where by all accounts, he could well have died. Kevin told me of his plans to go to California (?) soon to complete his studies. Listen to this guys…… In seven years time he hopes to be a qualified doctor and lawyer, wow! I find that an incredible dream and have visions of him in seven years time chasing ambulances, wearing a suit with a stethoscope round his neck. I’ve grown to like these two guys with the easy manner and friendly air about them.
I set off with a pack now about 4 pounds heavier than yesterday (that’s just about 2 kilograms for my foreign friends), the extra weight coming from the additional water and food my panic-stricken advisers told me I simply must have.
Now, I’m a very experienced hiker, backpacker, trekker and climber and I learned a long, long time ago to pay attention to people more experienced than I in any area that is new to me. So, in return for the advise given to me yesterday, when I next see those people, I might stamp heavily on their toes!
As I walk to the outskirts of Burgos I pass many statues, carvings, murals and Camino paraphernalia of all sorts. This really caught me eye.
I find myself unconsciously seeking out even the smallest patch of grass to walk on, such was the pounding my feet took yesterday walking into Burgos through those streets.
After a little over an hour I start to leave the suburbs behind me. On my right I pass what for all intentions could pass as a prison, complete with high watch towers at strategic points around the high walls. I am struck by the complete contrast of that prison and me walking my Camino.
A little later as I reach the very edge of the meseta where I see a stork amongst some reed beds. It has that stalking stance you often see with herons. In a flash it’s head with that awesome orange beak storks have stabs forwards. For a split secon I see what I assume was some sort of amphibian get tossed into the dark throat of the bird. It happens so quickly I can’t recognise the beast that is eaten, so, I decide to call it “little creature that will never be seen again”.
I come across a piece of graffiti that sets me to thinking.
My thoughts turn to home. I think about my friends, my family – my loved ones and I feel so privileged, blessed to have them in my life, for them to call me a friend and for them to love me. I’m a lucky man and that luck has stayed with me these past two weeks with the people I have met accepting me for what I am.
My first toe wiggle today is by a fast-flowing stream. I always find flowing water hypnotic, especially when I see the water vegetation just under the surface being caressed into that never-ending waltz by the currents.
I come across a place called Tardajos. This small monument, broken as it is, jolts me to think about how far I have come and how far I still have to go. I can’t be sure but I think I spent the next few minutes thinking about the friends, conversations, sights and miles I have shared with others up until now. Somewhere, deep inside me I think that’s what I was thinking of.
12 o’clock, give or take a few minutes heralds my second toe wiggle of the day and my ten little helpers are freed from their dark confines to see what I am seeing, where we have cone from and where we are going.
Like a smack across the face I realise that once again I have allowed myself to break into my long-established long-distance walking pace. I know this pace well. I have learned that if I give my feet a rest every two hours or so I can keep this up for more hours that the sun will give me light to walk by. I have worked hard to stop this from happening but it has. There is no way I can walk like this on this path for more than a day without doing some long-lasting serious damage.
With that in mind I decide to let my ego win the day and take me as far as is sensible. Tomorrow I will reclaim ‘MY’ Camino.
2 o’clock sees another toe wiggling Scotsman take a reat on yet another pile of rocks in the middle of the country-side, so very, very happy.
I wish I had a photograph of this for you but perhaps some of my friends following me tomorrow, if they read this, will take a photograph for you. Along the side of the path, in addition to the usual wild flowers there is a new blue form I have come to grow fond of. At first I thought it was blue and white. The white turned out be a bevy of beautiful very pale blue butter files that hang from the plant like Christmas decorations only to take flight at the mearest disturbance. It is simply stunning to experience.
Every time I pass one of those Dog-roses an invisible beauty consultant pounces on me and sprays me with a fragrance that reminds of 18th century, long-necked elegant ladies in long-flowing, high-waisted puffball evening gowns being led into the ballroom by their dashing Hussar recently returned from the war.
I then eat a huge tomato I have looked forward to all day.
Antonio and I eventually end up together in the same Albergue. As we enter I manage to trip up and end up like a missile crashing into other people’s laundry totally destroying the clothes dryer. It gets repaired using chairs to support it.
I enjoy the honesty of some folks who witnessed my misfortune who said they just wanted to laugh.
As I type this Rosie, (look back and you’ll see some words about her); is sitting opposite me. When I first met Rosie all those long days ago my first impression was of a gentle, open and honest lady. I can’t help but hear my first impressions confirmed as she listens supremely patiently to a person who needs help. In this photo Rosie is on the right. I get the feeling that Rosie is one of those people who will never stop giving herself to others.
Get this guys. One of the folks Rosie has hooked up with is Sofia from Boulder, Colorado. It turns out the we are all on the same Camino Forum. This is Sofia.
Sofia, as I listen to her says things that resound deeply with me. She talks of sharing dormitories and rooms with people that remind her of the chickens she raises back home. When at first they try to compete with each other for sleeping noises will eventually start breathing in unison. Then, in a way that just so simply sums how, if asked to, I would have describe some of the travelling and sleeping arrangements so far; she mentions ” the level of trust and surrender needed to do what we are doing”.
A perfect way to end a great day and this post methinks.
Short day for me tomorrow, probably to a place called Castrojeriz where if I am lucky I will meet up with dear friends I have left behind today and those who were ahead of me. As for now, I go in search of some food. I am starving.
Steps so far today 43338