|Well over the last few days I have worked my way from Logrono, Najera, Santo Domingo, Belorado, St. Juan and now Burgos. It is raining. The first rain we have had in the daytime, so a good time to be in a cyber cafe with a large glass of rioja.
Have left the vinyards of Rioja behind and for the last couple of days have been walking mainly through remote rolling countryside and farmland. Apparently many of the small villages on the Camino are sustained because of the Camino 'traffic'. Have stayed at some lovely Alberges. One was a 16 bed parish hostel. It was very poorly sighposted, so only three of us made it there, so I had an 8 bedded dorm. to myself (for 5 euros). Shared it with a couple from North Yorkshire! He has just left the Police and she has just left the Army, and neither of them have plans for what they do next (they are only in their late 20's). There are some amazing reasons why individuals are walking the Camino, and perhaps even more amazing, what they are seeking. One woman from Australia has sold her home and has no idea what she is going to do after Santiago. I stayed at a wonderful Alberge two nights ago, run by a woman from the USA, and she did a brief talk after (voluntary) evening prayers, and she said that walking the Camino was unlikely to give solve problems, but might help problems to be seen in a different light.
Talking about this Alberge. I staggered in there the other day, having run out of water 6 k before, my tongue stuck to the top of my mouth, to find the accommodation in the belltower of a very ancient church. I stumbled up a very dark staircase, and then found myself in a beautiful sitting room, with gentle music playing, and chairs by open windows filled with geraniums, and this lovely woman saying sit down and I will get you a glass of water! When I had the energy I did give her a hug! It is one of a group (about 10) on the Camino, which are run by the Church. There is no charge (donations only), and they provide a communal evening meal and breakfast, plus a voluntary pilgrim blessing before supper. The only slight downside is that they only provide thin mattresses on the floor, but every so often that isn't so bad. Apparently to man one of these Alberge, which they do for 2 to 4 weeks, they have to have walked the Camino, and they also have to go on training (she went to Toronto for 2 days).
My blisters are improving fortunately, they have been very painful. I must be increasing, single handedly, Compeed's profits! I was looking round a square the other day, where some of us had stopped to rest/refill water bottles, and there was a Canadian woman going meticulously through the contents of her rucksack, seeing what she could offload, a chap rebandaging his knee, and two women reapplying their Compeed! But fortunately most people are walking along alright.
The Church in Santo Domingo was impressive. Santo Domingo is very significant for Pilgrims (many of you may know all this, I didn't) because he dedicated his life to improving the roads and accommodation for pilgrims. I went to see his tomb, and by his tomb (in the Church) is a chicken coop containing a cock and some hens. The story goes that a pilgrim couple and their son stopped in Santo Domingo on their way to Santiago. Because the son rejected the advances of the inn keepers daugher she hid a golden goblet in his backpack and reported him for stealing it. He was caught and condemned to hang. The parents, who were unaware of this at the time, returned to find their son hanging on the gallows, but miraculously still alive (thanks it is said to the intervention of Santo Domingo. They rushed to tell the sheriff and found him just about to tuck into a roast of cock and hen. He said that their son was no more alive than the cock and hen he was about to eat, at which the fowl are said to have stook up on the dish! The sheriff is then said to have rushed out, cut down the lad, and given him a full pardon. There is a luxurious Paradore next to the Church, and I decided that it was time for a bit of comfort, but when I enquired they were full!
So now Burgos, with an equally impressive Cathedral - and lots of shops!
Many of the very old churches have white alabaster windows and they give a lovely soft light.
I think I have more or less brought you up to date. The next 6 walking days are on relatively flat ground - the book says the wilderness of Meseta!? So I am hoping that it will be easy on the feet. After the initial rush of 28-30 k daily most of us are settling down to about 20 to 25. Also many of the people who started at about the same time as myself are leaving now to fly home from Bilbao (they had 2 week's leave), and others are joining. Some people you are glad to leave behind and others it is lovely to meet up with from time to time.
Thanks to everyone sending e-mails, it is lovely to get them.
Speak to you soon,