Unbeknownst at the time visited, Burgos Cathedral is one of Spain’s largest. Gothic in style, its pointed spires and intricate designs are awe-inspiring. My quick peek inside turned into nearly two hours. Kashi chose to sit on a bench and people watch. He is an observer.
The late start out of Burgos leaned towards uncomfortable. The day was sunny with little shade respite. A considerable amount of time was spent getting out beyond the city limits, only to discover another Spanish building project gone woefully south. Vacant lines of streets and lampposts stretched out in this ghost-town-like scene. We sat on a bench by a small stream and pondered. What dreams were mislaid out here?
A ‘virgin’ pilgrim joined us under our meager shade tree. She had just commenced her Camino in Burgos. She was fresh and un-blistered.
What words of wisdom could be shared?
-No need to stay with ‘the pack'.
-Don't fret about where you will sleep each night.
-Slow your mind down to a walking pace.
-Immerse in the culture, and fully appreciate the lovely locals, delicious cuisine and wonderful vino tinto.
-Trust in the Camino Spirit.
Today would be a short day. The weather was hot and energy was low. To further challenge today’s weak reserve, we passed through a tangle of roads and paths that confused any good sense of direction. Murals on the walls of pedestrian tunnels in this lone maze depicted lost hope, and perhaps lost causes.
My paced quickened. I needed to walk the last few km's swiftly. My feet were tired and I was hot. I just wanted to be done for the day. Kashi kept the usual pace and fell back.
I dropped anchor on a bench in the next village and checked out the accommodation options in my guidebook. There were a few private hostels and one small donativo hostel. The donativo hostels were less numerous but more Camino-like than the cushier private hostels. Kashi came sauntering up, surprised at my uncharacteristic speed.
Agreement made for the donativo option. The hosts at the donativos and the municipal hostels volunteered for two weeks and ran the show, basically a 24/7 post. Some served food, some didn't. This one did not.
One store had a window of hours open in the late afternoon. The hostel boasted a microwave for cooking. A walk through the store indicated that an alternate choice might be better for the evening. One of the private hostels nearby served up the typical Peregrino menu. Dinner settled.
The sun was setting as we strolled back to the hostel. Peregrinos were hanging at the picnic tables out front. The European guy that had followed me up to the nunnery several days back, arrived with 3 other Europeans. They snatched up the last beds. Greetings and introductions were exchanged.
We joined the hostel host named Jesus and a Spaniard sitting at one of the picnic tables. The Spaniard was vigorously icing his legs. They talked about the old Camino days. In 1985 they were only about 200 pilgrims a year. Back then, most hostels were donativo with the generous mantra, ‘pay what you can afford’. Nowadays about 200,000 Peregrinos annually walk the Camino. Their heads shake. It’s not what it use to be. The Spanish guy was walking with his friend whom he referred to as the Captain. The Captain determined the mileage for the day, and hence the icing. Ice, as opposed to heat was better for the legs. Is this a goodbye to my occasional luxurious, hot baths?
He shared that he didn’t eat much while walking. He survived on generous amounts of water and cans of sardines. Perhaps I could learn from his meager, pious ways. My food bag was at minimum half full, lest I became hungry on the road. I had yet to fully believe that the Camino would provide what was needed.
The newly arrived foursome came out from the quaint hostel building and directed their attention to the rising full moon. The flowing-dressed one became mesmerized, stood with legs apart, eyes closed, palms outward and head lifted towards la Luna. The familiar European came up to the table to share their interest and heart felt significance for the Full Moon. “Our bodies are essentially water. The world is mostly water with its oceans, seas and lakes. The moon directs water and tides. We are all so connected.”
Unsure of how to respond, we all nodded in agreement. This was an interesting lot and one had to appreciate their spirit. After all the Camino is about all the different walks of life, getting out and walking.