October 2: Another challenge

So I left Burgos on Saturday morning just as the El Cid festival got going.  The walk out of the city was quite pretty.   Made it to the town of Rabe de Las Calzadas.  There was only one albergue open in town.  Ultimately, I roomed with 6 men.  Boy, did that place smell rank by the morning!

The next day my walking started out pretty strong.  Then I reached the “meseta”, a plateau that is mostly wheat fields.  Miles and miles and miles of nothing but wheat in the blazing sun.     Continuing on grew more challenging, as a coughing fit took over.  Not to mention the sun was blazing.


I think it was a mistake to stop at the next albergue,  between towns.  The positive:  it’s situated in a grove of trees with a very cold river running through.  It’s just beautiful.  The down: the albergue itself is extremely basic, with only one WC for all 12 beds.  And – there are no ladders for the upper bunks!  Not that I care, as I snagged a bottom.

Laid down after a rather cold shower and washing some clothes, and could not stop coughing.  I felt like I was choking.   I heard people talk about me as they came in. A little while ago, a younger guy gave me a nighttime Theraflu.  I know he did it for everyone.

So the big thing:  I bought a beer and was drinking it on the patio.  As I took a drink I felt a sudden pain.  Stung by a bee inside my lower lip.  Just short of panic, I tried telling the hospitalero, but she speaks limited English.  One officious little guy thought my pantomime was asking for wifi.  Dumb ass –  as if I don’t know how to say wifi!  Fortunately, I think the bee was already a bit drunk and couldn’t remember how to sting well.  It hurts and is swollen,  but I’ll live to see another day.

The waters of the river are said to be healing.  Maybe.  There was not even a refrigerator at this place, so no ice.  All I could do was to keep pouring this cold water over my lip.  Whatever the reason, the swelling was much less than I expected it to be.

The river flows through the small concrete pool towards the left.

We had a wonderful communal dinner here of salad and chicken paella.  Monday morning I had a difficult time wanting to walk, as my lower face was now quite swollen and painful.

Walked to the town of Hornillos where I ran into two Danish women I met one of the early days.  They were going home, as one had a bad ankle that was getting worse.  They were waiting for a taxi to take them to a town in which they could get a bus to Leòn.  I  decided this was an opportunity and went with them.  We ended up back in Burgos at the bus station.  There was a long line, so I  decided to use the automated ticket machine.  Score!  Got the last ticket on the bus to Leòn leaving in 10 minutes.

I don’t feel at all badly jumping ahead.  The truth of the matter is that I was overly confident in thinking I could walk more than about 12 miles each day and was getting quite behind due to my speed and my physical issues.  Now that I’m a bit ahead of schedule, I hope to be able to walk the rest of the way to Santiago.  We’ll see.


Burgos – Sept. 30th Pics

My first sight of the walled city center


The streets are decked out for the festival of El Cid
I stumbled upon the most amazing indoor perishable food market. There is a regular supermarket on the second floor.
Olives and pickled veggies!
I wish I’d gotten a good picture of the fish stalls. But this is different. And they seem to sell a lot of rabbit,

September 29 – Burgos

I caught the 9:30 bus to Burgos and was glad to have bypassed more mountains.  Had a bit of energy, so visited the cathedral first thing.  Glorious place with incredible engineering and architecture.   But whenever I visit churches like this, I ponder the rationale for such concentration of wealth in contrast to the poverty and misery of so many church goers.  I also think about how the artistic value of this wealth factors in.

I will try to add another post of pictures, but here is one of the arches.


Went to my hotel next.  Oh, holy cow – this place is really ostentatious at only €50 for the night!  I have a bidet and a bathtub for the first time this trip, as well as a hair dryer.   I feel like a hippie or a rube in this city of sophisticated people, so I take a shower and use their fancy shampoo.

I must be feeling better because I hit the road again after that to visit this new, wonderful museum on evolution.  There was a major archeological discovery near here that this museum explains.  I took no pictures here, as I was immersed in the learning.

By this time I was very hungry, as I had only eaten last night’s leftovers.  I stopped in at what was an expensive place and had a fabulous multi-course lunch of different fish dishes.   First came a cold fish salad with large chunks of tasty I don’t know what.   Then I had 6 small whole sautéed shrimp.  Then a plate of calamari fried in tempura batter, then the main course of more salad and an incredibly good, thick white fish.  I wish I knew what it was.  This was all so filling that I didn’t have the dessert that comes with, nor could I finish the 2/3 bottle of wine they brought me.  I finished with an espresso, which is what is keeping me up long enough to do some writing.

With that, I’m in for the night.  I’m now taking some weird oral med to clear out my lungs.  Had a long soak in the tub to ease my back muscles that are sore from coughing.  Will go to sleep soon and hope I’m well enough to start walking again.  I am tired of all this aloneness,  but don’t want to stay in an albergue unless I’m walking and not coughing so much.

So, I await the new day with hope.

Sick in Spain:Sept.26 – 29

I am beset by  challenges.  After saying goodbye to my friend of 3 days, Nuria, at the bus station in Burgos, I began to sneeze and cough.  I can’t seem to catch a day when everything works relatively well.   I don’t know what I am to learn from this, but I suspect this will keep happening until I  figure it out.  Perhaps it’s just all the stress I’ve carried working itself out.

This is a beautiful tree I saw – and this is by no means a tropical climate.


Spent some time Monday in Logroño visiting churches and walking the streets first of the old town and then to get back to the bus station in the newer part of town.  Am on the bus again, Tuesday to Santo Domingo de la Calzada.  Sto. Domingo is a lovely small town with the bus stop right by a farmacia and a supermercado.  I got a hotel in the block, got some meds, and some food and drink for later.  Walked the strip and had a pizza and lots of water for lunch.  Then, slept.

Wednesday morning I dragged myself out of bed to head downstairs to pay for another night.  Slept all morning.  Went out for a true lunch of seafood soup and lamb chops and, of course, local wine.  Then ent to the cathedral.   I should have takens pictures of the architecture and art, but figured I would find those in books if I ever want to see it again.  But there are 2 things that tickled me.

The first is the rooster that lives in tbe church.  There is a legend behind this as well as a belief that if the cock crows while you’re in the church you’ll have good luck.  Needless to say,  the bird preened but failed to utter a peep!


Second:  outside in the courtyard, there was a tent with a Playskool diorama of tge Camino.  Tee hee!  This is a depiction of the beginning for many people in the Pyrenees.


Took another nap after this and made it out for tapas for dinner.  I think I should be able to move on tomorrow, if only by bus.


September 26: Nuria

In Azqueta I stayed at La Perla Negra – an albergue that my new friend Nuria, whom I met at La Casa Magica, had talked about.  I was the first of 5 guests to arrive that day, and on arrival there was a pack waiting that had been shipped ahead.  Later, Nuria is there!   I was very happy to see her.  I felt like we really bonded during our two days together in Villatuerta.

And while this is off subject, let me just say how wonderful the vegetarian dinner was at La Perla.  Elena, the owner, made us a hot green soup, the best tomatoes so ripe and lush, fried peppers, and tostado – a Spanish omelet with potatoes and lots of olive oil.

Monday morning I left before Nuria knowing she’d catch up to me.  She did.


We walked together to Los Arcos.  It was a beautiful walk for much of the way, through harvested wheat fields, and then vineyards interspersed with asparagus.

At the base of that tree was an elderly couple playing Those Were the Days on violin and accordian.  What a wonderful treat!  The sky was just phenomenal there, too.20160926_092258.jpg

We got to Los Arcos and were very early for the bus to Logroño,  so we had lunch.  It was very good, including fresh trout.

Sadly, the bus didn’t take very long.  Nuria left for the train station, while I started walking into the city center to find lodging for the night.  Accompanying me was a German woman we’d met in Villatuerta.   I hate to say this, but I was glad she decided to stay elsewhere.

I was able to get a solo room for cheap, and proceeded to sneeze almost incessantly.   Uh oh!  This was late in the afternoon,  so I  settled in, washed some clothes, etc.

Couldn’t decide on food that evening, so went to bed feeling miserable.  Fortunately,  I was able to do some sightseeing, mostly at churches, before heading back to the bus station on Tuesday about noon.





By now I have a bad cough – no denying that I’ve got a cold.

On to Santo Domingo de La Calzada.

The Way is the Journey: September 25

Started out fairly strong today and made my way reasonably quickly to the town of Estella.  This qualifies as a city, albeit a small one.  Last year its population was 14,000.  Some of the villages I’ve been staying in have populations hovering in the 200 to 300 range!

I wanted to stop in Estella,  as there were a couple of museums, at least 3 churches, and a number of plazas to visit.  So, I kept going.  The guidebooks fail to mention that one must be superhuman to meet the suggested days of walking and actually see anything.  I have to go back to work eventually, so I must choose.   Perhaps I’ll come back someday and do this by car!

Reached the next village of Irachi, which is the home to the wine fountain and wine museum, courtesy of the small, local winery.  It was turning windy and gray, so I stopped in the church to attend mass.  This was a very barren church,  but it was beautiful in the simplicity of its bare soaring naves.  When I  left, I was surprised by a courtyard to one side that had been set up for brunch, with a jazz band playing “Girl from Ipanema. ”  A study in contrasts, to say the least.

When I  left there I was feeling very alone, an outsider in this small but apparently tight-knit community.   I didn’t want to continue,  but one must.  As a practical matter it can be remote between villages, and unless there is a bus stop, there doesn’t seem to be any way of securing assistance in any event.  Besides, I came here to make my way to Santiago,  not to give up in Irache!

As I made my way throuh a forest and then through agricultural land, I fully realized that there is no way I’ll be able to walk the rest of the way.  The other thing I’m learning is that much of the Way is internal – that the Camino exists every moment  whether I’m on my feet or in a seat on the bus.

I had low energy today.  I will try to eat enough at dinner tonight,  and to ensure I have actual meals tomorrow, too.  I am thinking that insufficient food is at least partially responsible for the low energy.

In any event, I stopped for the day at Azqueta, a town of one through street that seems to go on for no  more than 4 blocks.  Am staying at what seems to be a lovely albergue in an old home.  The sleeping spaces are on the top floor,  but the shower is on the bottom, with 34 steps between!  The hot water was plentiful, and there are 3 beds per room.   Unfortunately, I have the room with two men in it.  On the plus side, our room has the toilet, which is no small thing.

Tomorrow I will make my way to Villamayor de Monjardin – of course up a steep hill – and will try to see a bit of the place with its population of 150!  Then on through about 12 kms of esentially nothing to arrive in Los Arcos, population 1200.  I will see what I’m able to do then, if anything.   I might try to get a bus into the next actual city, Logroño, moving from the Navarre to the Rioja region.   Thats right, the wines will begin to change.

There is much going on internally.  I have been thinking of my family and friends, their intentions and mine.  I am trying to stay focused on love – a lesson from last night.  I met Kyle, one of a group of 3 from Wyoming.  He is a liberal (imagine that) who was raised in a large Jehovah’s Witness family.  He was shunned about 3 years ago, for beginning to question the teachings of that church.  He even has a twin brother with whom he no longer has contact.  Where is the love in his family?

Dinner was local vegetarian.  If you love tomatoes, you have much to be jealous of.  They were wonderful.

While it’s not even 9:00, I am so tired.  My body needs to replenish itself.  So, adios until I next have wifi and time.