Taking A Camino Break in Burgos – Part 3 (by Nathan)
We descended from the small mountains and the sun lit up the valley. The weight in our backpacks was wearing us down. We had been hiking for ten days, six of those nights were camping. I developed elongated blisters along my hips, a reality of too much weight and a pack not fully designed for it. Our bodies were telling us to slow down and lighten up. Our feet ached, but a beautiful city lay in the distance, it would be a place to rest, relax and recover. We walked on to Burgos.
Both Carmen and I entered into Burgos with an excited energy. The town was busy with over 200,000 people, new almost Dutch-looking buildings and tapas galore. Somehow we found the energy to squeeze our way into the standing-only tables and figure out the complex paper ordering system. We teeter-tottered on sore feet to ease the pain, the beer definitely helped, but the jamón was magical. It was almost gooey with flavor and olive oil was drizzled all over it just because.
We were able to do a little exploring and the first place to go in Burgos is the Cathedral. The Catedral de Santa Maria was built in the 1200’s and was one of the first to utilize gothic ribs in pointed arches. It is the second largest church in Spain making it very magnificent viewed from the inside and throughout the city.
There were more tapas of course, more walking (even though it was our rest day!). We needed a treat, and when in Spain there is one delicacy that we search out: chocolate con churros. We licked our fingertips, but despite the small amounts of chocolate lingering on the corners of our mouths, our faces were grim with plans to begin walking the next day. At least we had made the excellent decision to send home the camping gear and lighten our loads.
The next day we awoke refreshed and eager to progress westward. It was obscurely dark when we left in the morning, but our path was lit when we finally made it through the Burgos suburbs. Again we were walking, and again we were watching one foot fall in front of the other.
We climbed small mountains in the early morning and walked in the dappled sunlight of tree-lined paths.
There were days that we needed to hike in the afternoon. Every time we cursed ourselves for not leaving earlier. The sun in Spain can be unbearably hot and feels like it burns the skin immediately on contact. A canal appeared along the path, I pushed along the bank and focused ahead trying to get to Frómista. The sweat beads dropped from my forehead and the canal continued to tease with its cool waters. And then, I could not take it any longer. The backpack was thrown off, the clothes placed in a pile over my boots and I cannon-balled into the water yelling “camino!” I backstroked and bobbed around for twenty minutes and continued on my way, refreshed. We set up our beds, showered and explored the town in the early evening; this has become a daily routine for us in the last few weeks. We often see churches from all sorts of time periods and styles, one of our favorites was the Romanesque San Martín with a huge round dome and intricately decorated columns.
The next morning we were walking again in the dark. The path weaves in and out of farmland and mostly along a beautiful creek. Our destination, Carrión, a welcoming small town with weekday market, small plazas a and winding streets. We loaded up on supplies from a produce stall and grocery store and that night feasted on chicken wrapped in thinly sliced jamón iberico made by Carmen and me. As we ate in the convent kitchen, the nuns led a sing-along in the adjacent room. We participated in the ceremony to encourage and recognize the pilgrims. We slept peacefully; we were fortified spiritually by the gracious nuns and nutritiously with our meal. Tomorrow we would walk 25miles (40km) to Sahagún.