I do not like big cities! I am not used to people! This morning I was awakened by two VERY LOUD Italian ladies getting ready in the bathroom at 5:30. My bed was right next to the bathroom, and the walls did not exactly prevent sound from passing through. I was really annoyed. Finally someone got up and shushed them quite sternly. I was wide awake anyway, and decided I might as well get up. On my way out the door I met my Ohio friends, Marty and Ed. We decided to walk together since it can be difficult to find one’s way in the predawn hours. We set out for Atapuerca, which is a little bit touristy, since the oldest human remains in Europe were found nearby. We were so thankful to find a little café in which to eat, and since it was off the beaten track, it was mostly empty! Once our stomachs were full, we set out again and climbed the last mountain peak before the Burgos valley. On our way up, some seminary students passed us in their robes. They were from a Catholic seminary in Wisconsin. They were travelling so quickly we didn’t actually get a chance to ask if they had to walk the Camino as part of their seminary requirements.
The path up to the peak and back down was extremely rocky today – not rocks brought in to help with mud, but actual rocky ground. It was hard on the feet and ankles!
Once we were over the peak, we could see the big city of Burgos stretching ahead of us a few kilometres away. But instead of just heading straight there, the Camino naturally takes some side detours. Once out of the last village before Burgos, we were walking beside a quite busy road. (You have to understand, contextually, pilgrims are used to walking through villages with no traffic, so we walk on the street on a regular basis.) The wind was quite strong and buffeting us, and every time a vehicle passed, my life flashed before my eyes and I imagined myself falling in front of the vehicle. After a few kilometres, the signs kept pointing along the highway but we took an option our guidebook talked about. There was also a handwritten sign taped to the sign saying, “Don’t take this way. Go the other way. It is much better. I went this way.” I was greatly amused by this. It’s difficult not to follow the signs and arrows we are so accustomed to, but we trusted our guidebook. And after a little while on this new path, our good old arrows showed up again.
We walked along the outskirts of the airport, and then followed a river trail all the way into the city. The trail was filled with walkers, runners, and cyclists. Although it was overwhelming to be around so many people again, many people were still very friendly and wished us Buen Camino.
Eventually we made it into the downtown, and our arrows directed us across the bridge and then disappeared. We could see some cathedral spires peaking up, though, and headed for those. I also asked several nice old people for directions. We came to the Plaza Mayor, and could hear… well, either people were setting off a canon or fireworks. No idea why, but it was kind of terrifying.
We actually were having some trouble finding our way to the albergue, but people kept coming to us to give directions. And then we started seeing friends. It is really something amazing to come into a new city you’ve never been in and be welcomed by friends at each turn. And it’s amazing to think of the number of people we now know and count as friends! If you see someone more than once, you are so happy to see them again. Sometimes it might have been several days since you last saw each other, and the reunion is all the sweeter. One never knows the last time one will see a friend here – our plans are so temporary, so transient. We make decisions about how far to go based on many changing factors. But the community is really something quite unique and quite special.
I splurged with Marty and Ed today and we are washing and drying our clothes by machine. They are almost done, and then I am off to explore the city! And look for wifi.
Oh, PS: you should be very proud of me. Today I actually did my hair, instead of letting it dry however it wants like something crazy. Burgos, I honour you!

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