My trek out of Burgos was solitary. I was pretty sure I was the last Pilgrim out, but I didn’t care. Mercadona was opening their doors as I walked by. So I stopped in for water, protein bars and dried fruit. Then kept on going.
One thing that has struck me on this particular journey are the number of people eager to help me. Two ancient men took it upon themselves to escort me to the edge of Logroño city proper. Which was a fair number of city blocks with twists and turns through a park. So kind. And Burgos was the same. Sort of.
This morning, Parents were walking their kids to school. I was repeatedly missing the yellow arrows, and school children would shout and point the way. One little girl, maybe four or five asked her mother who I was as her brother, maybe 10, directed me onward. In the past two years Pilgrims through Burgos are not so prevalent in this little girl’s short life. ‘She’s a peregrina. She is walking a long way to a city far away.’ Her brother added ‘All the way to Santiago.’ Although I’m not sure if he really understands just how far that is.
As I walked people would wave the direction and point to the edge of the city. And then I was alone for a few hours. But on this Camino more Spaniards speak to me.
I was taking photos of a beautiful old house sporting an old stone coat of arms. An old couple came out of their house and asked me where I am from. I told them and the woman asked if I am solo. Walking alone? I said yes and she gave a ‘Uf. Muy valiente.’ And she squeezed my arm. I like the Spanish word for brave. Valiente sounds as if I am on a quest. Which I guess I am.
Walking through the next village I met some nuns, who again questioned me. De donde eres? Which literally mean Of where are you? In Spanish you are of a place. Not from it. Although it kind of means the same thing. I told them Soy de los Estados Unidos. Again, they were amazed I am walking alone.
This is a gorgeous town, and so interesting. Rabe de las Calzadas is a pueblo of murals. So many murals. And the nuns are stationed in a small chapel on the way. Their job is to explain the murals to the Pilgrims. And they explained what they are all about to me.
This village is all about inclusiveness. LGBTQ, Muslim, Buddhist, black, white, all races. Gender equality. And against gender violence. They pride themselves on accepting everyone and every lifestyle. The murals and the nuns are committed to telling this story of peace and inclusivity. That is their calling. But one mural made me cry. It is dedicated to a Peregrina who was killed on the Camino in 2015. Denise worked at the same company I worked at in the US before she was killed. When I walked in 2017 people begged me not to go. ‘Women get killed doing that trek.’ That was their only perception of the Camino. Denise’s death. She wasn’t killed in that place, But in this town there is now a mural with her name on it. I was speechless standing before it. I couldn’t take a photo of it. It seemed wrong somehow. Such thing.
There are no more towns or rest stops until Hornillos del Camino. I was so happy coming over the rise to see the village in the valley below. I checked into a great, brand new Albergue Meeting Point, clocked a private room, had a hot shower and a rest, then made my way downstairs to the sound of a guitar playing. And who do I see?
Sitting there strumming the guitar, with his lovely wife sitting next to him drinking a beer, were the first two Pilgrims I met on this adventure. After a lonely first day and night, I finally spotted a couple walking ahead of me. Canadians, Darren and Loli. She gasp, got up and squealed, hugging me like she was wringing out a dish rag. ‘I never thought I would see you again!’ The last time I saw them was when we said goodbye at Villamayor Monjardin. I was staying there and they were moving on. But, as the Camino bends time and space, here we were. Together again. What a wonderful surprise after a long day alone.
Today I made it to Castrojeriz. Limping a bit. Slower than most. Our big Meseta group is formed now and we will all likely walk the same stages until Leon. 20-25k isn’t the issue for me that it was a week ago. The knees don’t love the cold, but we will make it. And I have a warm hearted group to get me through. Its always the way.