And so to Burgos, the largest city on the Camino and one of Spain’s most beautiful.
The Camino passes through so many varied landscapes…
First there were the rolling hills of Navarra, soon to fade away into the Rioja wine country. Then came the wide open expanses of the Castille and its wooded hills before the descent into the outskirts of Burgos; a long trying slog over concrete, past factories and an airport.
Many folk try to miss out this part, but to me, the Camino is just this; a combination of terrains, all of which are designed to test one’s mettle. Surely, dipping out is a form of denial of ‘what is’, unless of course, one has limited time to complete the whole Camino.
I have been on the Camino long enough now to notice certain habits developed by different folk. Most disturbing is the rush to get up and on the road before light, producing an irritating noisy awakening that robs one of the last valuable hour of sleep. The dormitory becomes a fusion of coughing and rustling plastic bags, as well as slamming doors and unnecessary lights being turned on and off. It can be incredible just how selfish some folk are! Interestingly, many of these competitive types are soon dragging themselves along on bandaged knees having over-extended themselves.
Usually I am one of the last peregrinos out in the morning and yet I am still in touch with the ‘pacesetters’. It doesn’t have to be like this, but of course the Camino mirrors every day life, which is exactly like the mad rush replicated here in Spain. What is everyone so busy about? Do tell…
On the contrary, there is nothing nicer than the smile of an old friend as you arrive at a new Auberge. Sometimes it feels like I have known my fellow peregrinos all my life, so intense is the way.
Everyday it is necessary to receive a stamp in your pigrim’s passport, known as a ‘Credencial del Peregrino’. Every Refugio or Albergue visited can only be done so on receipt of one’s Credential and it is necessary to complete one stamp per day to receive the ‘Compostella’ of completion in Santiago.
I intend to stay for an extra night in Burgos to sample the atmosphere of this ancient city. I can’t seem to go any slower than I already am without losing my rhythm. I am a strong and experienced walker, but I have even surprised myself with the ease in which I have proceeded thus far. However, I am only too aware how easy it is to slip and damage one’s ankle on the steep descents, especially in the wet, so I am not ‘counting my chickens’!
The pilgrim’s way must be with care, both physically and consciously. A pilgrimage should hopefully slough old habits and sublimate a keen raising of consiousness, enough hopefully to contribute to the improvement of our poor long suffering planet. I don’t know what effect mine will have, but if I become one less problem to the world, it will be more than enough…