Camino: Day 16-18

Atapuerca and Burgos

Day 16 – Villafranca Montes de Oca to Atapuerca:

Coming out of Villafranca in the morning was up up up. And have I mentioned lately how much I love the up? Downs kill my feet/toes. Then there was this downhill like I’ve never seen. I thought I might start to fall to the bottom. I could hear some 20 nothing behind me sliding down the hill. “Buen Camino!” as he rolled past me. Then only to be met with another straight up. Spain loves their hills. It was 12.4 km until the first town. That was a lot. Luckily Feena shared her yogourt with me and I had a granola bar and apple. We stopped at the Oasis. Too bad it was Sunday as the breakfast board looked amazing. The oasis is this weird and delightful place on the side of the trail in the middle of nowhere. I finally got a cafe con lèche at about 10:30-11. I had a bit of a scare which sent me into another spiral wondering what I need to learn from the Camino again. The scare seems to be nothing so I soldiered on. But I definitely shed some tears and Feena helped me to do some self reflection. I adore Feena. Another angel on my journey. I have to say goodbye to her tomorrow. ? we walked together for most of yesterday. Then we got to this wonderful albergue and we got to share a room with Otto and Linda! I spent the afternoon drinking wine with Otto and chin wagging with Linda with my feet up of course. My feet: blisters are healing/no more to report for a while. Unfortunately I have more bed bug bites so I’m treating and drying my stuff in a dryer. Sigh… it’s not as bad as I thought (I HATE bugs) but they got my thighs and butt cheeks (tmi? Fml!). We had a nice pilgrims meal with the four of us and Frances and David. It was so wonderful to have everyone together. I felt so fortunate. I cried again (of course). Tomorrow BURGOS!! This is a big deal!

Day 17 – Atapuerca to Burgos:

Early morning (7am start) in the dark. I walked with Otto and Linda for a good portion of the day. They said I’m walking faster!! Must mean my feet problems are improving in more ways than one. Up up up as we like to do straight out of the gate to the top. There was the cross and a spiral path constructed with rocks at the top. The terrain up seemed like it must have been lava at one point. Very technical to walk. It was cool and windy which was a nice relief. We walked until coffee (about 6km) and had a wonderful breakfast (tortilla de patata). Onward we trudged and met Sylvan along the way: an emphatic biker who wanted us so desperately to make it to the river. He drew a picture in the gravel and when he left us he kissed me on the cheeks and Linda on the mouth! There’s two routes into Burgos: the industrial way when you walk for 6km through industry or the river way which is longer (some people said a half km others said 3km). We chose the river way. Soooo beautiful. Burgos really does feel like the end of an act-a transition so to speak. I understand there are still 2 acts left. It’s like the whole camino shifts now as we prepare for the meseta. The meseta (from what I understand) is 10-12 days of walking on flat, barren, no shade trail. It’s where people can’t be distracted by the beautiful sights and it’s a time to turn inward and where the deep inner learning takes place. I have chosen to bike this section. It will take me 4 days. Then I’ll have more time hopefully in Leon and Astorga to sight see a little and to heal my feet further. It also means that my bubble of friends will shift as I’ll fast forward in front of them. It’s an interesting feeling to be on your own again doing your own thing. I’m staying one more day in Burgos.

Day 18 – Burgos – REST DAY

I still woke up at 5:30am as the pilgrims still get up then to start their day and it’s hard to sleep past 6 when the lights come on in the municipal albergues. For the 17th time I left my walking sticks behind in the albergue and had to go back and get them. I had a breakfast with bacon, eggs and potatoes!!! I haven’t had a breakfast like this since I left Canada ??. Feena and I did a walking tour of the cathedral. This cathedral is immense. And the ceilings are just incredible. The detail each chapel’s relief had is really astounding. You need to see it to appreciate it I think. After that we walked to our next place to sleep. We rented a hotel room for 39€. A pretty good deal. I bought some black garbage bags so I could treat my backpack in case there are any more bed bugs inside. And we sent all the laundry through the washer and dryer (most important part). Then we walked to the bike rental place to secure me a bike for the next 4 days. The bike is 100€ and comes with helmet, paniers, and a lock. Also bungees to secure my backpack to the top of the paniers. Picking it up at 9am today. I’m pretty excited and nervous! Then to have a bite to eat. After that we returned to the hotel… a seista, organized my washing and packed my backpack, chatted with some friends back home and then out for dinner with Otto, Linda and Feena. The food is really starting to be just the same over and over again. My travel bottle I bought from MEC has broken so my shampoo became unusable. So i had to buy travel size shampoo and i couldn’t resist it’s match – travel size conditioner so last night my hair actually felt nourished for the first time in 2.5 weeks. It’s the small things.

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Camino: Day 7-9

Cirauqui/Zirauki, Estella, and Los Arcos

Day 7 – Zariquiegui to Cirauqui/Zirauki:

Started our day at 6:15am an took off directly up hill for the sun rise. 2.4km. A beautiful sunrise. And then down down down on a river of balls as my mother describes this part (she’s not wrong). Then a nice easy walk. We stopped in a town for 2 tinto des verano (my new fave drink). And the carried on 2.6 km to this wonderful place. It was flat then up and so steep I wasn’t sure if I would fall backwards. I’m still with the lovely Sherri and Leena for another day. So incredibly grateful for them. I have 6 blisters that I drain at the end of the day with thread. I like this technique. I’m surprised actually how far you can walk with blisters on your feet. The pilgrims dinner was the BEST YET. lentil soup, a big green salad from the hosts garden and the a cod dish (see photo) that is a speciality in the area. I’m feeling good mentally and spiritually. Physically my toes and parts of my feet are hurting but otherwise all is good. The hardest part by far is the uphill in the hot afternoon Spanish sun. Tomorrow Azqueta.

Day 8 – Cirauqui/Zirauki to Estella:

Today was about self love and slowing down. We got up early and started walking. It was clear to me from the get go my feet were not happy. I remember Eric in SJPDP say “listen to your body”, Michael in Puenta De Reina say “take care of your feet” and Iona say “take it easy the first 10 days. After that you’ll be able to walk more”. So I told Sherri and Leena (who clearly could walk faster than I as they would wait for me) to go and I’ll meet up with them later. If I didn’t then Buen Camino. And then I was alone again. And it was ok. I talked with Luc and Violette for about an hour while I walked and listened to an audiobook. Then I decided, it’s day 7, I’m going to practice fierce self love and get my own room in Estella. Which is where I sit now. I’m so grateful to be able to splurge and look after my body and soul.

Day 9 – Estella to Los Arcos:

I chose to leave a bit later today (8am) which had some significant consequences (walking in the heat of the day). I immediately forgot my walking sticks (walk back 200m). My toes are not happy. So it was slow going. I walked alone and up to villa mayor. Not before stoping in at the wine fountain! We Stopped for some breakfast at 10am with some awesome people who I saw in Orisson. Then it was 12.4km until I saw another town. And down. You would think that it would have been easy. But no, it was 12:30 and we walked until 5pm. It was as HOT. My toes were killing. But I had Alan, a 72 year old Brit who told me fascinating stories of his life when he was younger. Very occasionally there was a breeze and I was so grateful for this small mercy on the blazing Spanish sun. Every little piece of shade we saw from the trees we hunkered under until we finally made it to this albergue. I peeled off my socks and bandages, popped my blisters, and the Camino provided to me tape to deal with my blisters. We headed out for dinner to the square. Right now there seems to be a lot of German’s in my company. They are all so happy, pleasant and kind. I love to hear about all the journeys why people are walking the Camino. Tomorrow will be a rest day for me. I need to heal my toes and blisters a bit more. My feet are more important than doing the distance. It pains me to say that but I need to look after my little digits. ♥️

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