Thursday, 20 October 2011

Camino installment 1

My feet hurt, my legs hurt, I am so hot dusty and tired… This Cervaca con Limon goes down good. It seems like time to catch y'all up on our/my adventures so far.
The idea I could write a daily travelogue went out the window long ago, relatively speaking. Ever experienced the time shift where the days go by rapidly and it seems like there is no time to get anything done? Well that's not happening here, let me tell you. Moments last and last, long days trudging for 20+ km through endless fields of harvested hay, up gentle rolling slopes with barely a tree in sight, pilgrims/perigrinos stretched ahead of us along the road/camino far off into the distance.
Yes! those black dots cresting the rise way ahead, those are perrigrinos… And yes we will be walking up that very steep hill.
I really thought I knew how to live in the moment… (2am writing sessions aside). Walking daily one step at a time, observing ahead, side to side,"beauty in front, beside, above, below, behind…" looking down is this reality. Stopping, smelling the dusty earth, hearing birdsong, multiple language conversations, sharing an orange, a quiet moment in the shade of trees beside a fountain that too, is this reality.
I am here. Right now in this place, it is/was hot, sweat running into my eyes stinging, I ache and I continue to put one foot in front of another, each dusty step after another bringing us closer to our next Albergue, our resting place for the night.
Oh and did I mention the beer? or the wine? An expensive bottle of red wine here in this town is 3 Euro's. Do the math folks $10=7Euro. We also saw 15 and 20 Euro bottles in the grocery along with "buy this 1.50 Euro bottle and get the second one for .20
So to bring everyone up to speed on our snails pace adventure, Burgos is on the mesata ; flat, dry and agribusiness agricultural. Big tractors, big bales of straw. Small abandoned villages surrounded by tilled land, cut off corn stalks or short sunflowers standing drying under the hot sun.
After the train, a taxi ride to the Cathedral. We wander, park our stuff, avail ourselves of lunch and dinner then promenade with the locals who all seem to come out after 8 to walk about, in and out of the plazas and squares. Spent the night in a giant Albergue, we were on the 5th floor…We expected to see a few walkers. There are many walkers, many pilgrims, many cyclists. Hundreds. What's it like in July or August? This year, many more I heard, and it was raining, there were a lot of peregrinos sleeping on the floor in the churches.
In the morning, early wake up and a mad rush out to find something open selling coffee. Then a visit to the Post Office/Correeos to send off our "extra" clothing to lighten the load.
Start walking, meet a couple of German fellows. Sue from Ontario quickly gave us an info session through the outskirts, over and under the highways and rail lines. Stop at a bar for breakfast, meet more peregrinos from Sue's Camino family. We walked 20 k that day and the next. We were introduced to Compede a second skin for the feet and toe socks to cover the blisters. Days later Elke gets a special treatment from Francesca.
I have seen more churches than I ever thought possible, old stone, mud bricks, derelict ruins, an abandoned pigeon roost, endless fields of stones and stubble, rolling hills and not a lot of shade.
In the clear air one day I saw distant mountains to the north. We descended into valleys where towns would appear. Further ahead on a hill, ruins of a castle with the town below. Roman roads and stone bridges, links to an older time and an unending stream of peregrinos from everywhere. This is a flowing, shifting bubble of walkers; together and apart united in our intention to walk. Peregrinos, individually motivated and without judgement mostly moving westerly towards Santiago and Finnisterre. Inspiring, encouraging and enlightening.
Each town or village a new flavour, regional soups, local variations of the pergrino menu. Bread from panederias, cheeses and hams, losing weight not happening. Getting fit though.
We create our own schedule, taking pictures, checking out each town, bell tower or fountain, splashing our heads, resting in the shade then eating together with a new group each night, often Germans. Strolling along beside rivers and canals as the sun rises behind us, trudging along the pavement following the yellow arrows, the tile shells and inviting signs. Cool dark mornings become hot dry, dusty afternoons. Stork nests, ruins, renovations, restorations and hillier country. Wine cellars, "Bodegas" burrowed into the hillside, cave houses and strange metal rebar sculptures,
After 5 days we give ourselves a break and send our bags ahead from Calzadilla de la Cueza to Sahagun. We walk through the western edge of Palencia, through Terradillos de los Templarios, Moratinos and San Nicolas del Real Camino then along the highway, a side trip to a Monastery under restoration and finally in through light industry and suburbs past the train station(!) to our Albergue where our bags are waiting.
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