Rest day in Burgos – (Day 14)
We left the albergue before 8 am and went to the familiar bar across the street. We got some breakfast and here, Ricardo, Daniela, Gemma and me found a cheap hotel for the night to enjoy some deserved comforts. Before we headed there we went to see Esther and Steffen who would leave Burgos today.
Besides touring the incredible cathedral in Burgos and chilling in the hotel, we had our toughest goodbye to date – Ana was leaving The Camino. We had grown close and it was easy to see and feel when saying our goodbyes at the bus station.
Info: I have not included any images of stages because the terrain was so flat throughout.
Burgos – Hontanas = 31,6km (Day 15)
The four of us began to walk out of Burgos together and what would be a long day. We were now heading towards an important part of The Camino, one where the mental challenges would enter “flat-land” and that has a difference and impact as you will see explained later in the “Three Phases” (Day 18).
The day was the first long walk without any mountainous scenery, which made for an “easier” walk physically, but it was now the mental part that was going to be worked more and more. I believe, we people have a subconscious addiction to constantly wanting to be stimulated and when you have been used to mountains and breathtakingly beautiful landscape and all of a sudden there is not much, there are not many other places than inwards that you now can go and be stimulated and for many if not all pilgrims, that is the challenge and why you are here.
Gemma and me walked together most of the day as Ricardo had to take it slow and take more breaks to take care of his feet and Daniela was his loyal companion.
Onwards to Hontanas was flat for many kilometers and the landscape did not change at all. Gravel path and green fields on both sides – mountains in the far distance on our right was visible though.
It was interesting entering Hontanas, because… where in the world was the village???
It was hidden or squashed right into the rocks of the little gorge and here I met Gary from Minnesota again.
We had a conversation a little after Gemma and me had checked in, at the same time as Ricardo and Daniela arrived and we all had another nice evening together.
And to finish this day off with this lovely photo that Gemma took on route for Hontanas, one that I love due to its tranquility of being in the middle of nowhere on the journey.
Hontanas – Boadilla del Camino = 28,7km (Day 16)
The weather had changed a bit from the first 10-12 days of sun and hotness. It was a little cooler and grey now but was actually great conditions for walking.
Ricardo and Daniela started a little ahead of us and besides crossing one steep ascent today it was another long flat walk.
I find it easier and much more fun to walk upwards, so I was quickly ahead and gone from our little group. I continued my quick pace and first took a break in the last village Itero de la Vega before Boadilla del Camino where I waited for the others.
We followed each other to Boadilla del Camino with our provisions for the evening. They were enjoyed on a bench in the square outside of the albergue, where all we had was 4 knives that we poked at the veggies we had sliced up and passed a wine bottle around for drinks – one of those great memories 🙂
Boadilla del Camino = Carrión de los Condes = 26,3km (Day 17)
Today things would begin to change, it was time for some of us to begin walking alone. It was time to begin exploring what it was we were here for and that necessity started this morning. Daniela started out by herself and we followed a little after, even though I knew Gemma would like to walk by herself as well later on.
We got to the first village of the day; Fromista and saw a few familiar faces here. After a little breakfast Gemma and me said our goodbyes to Ricardo as he had to take care of his feet. Shortly after I walked on from Gemma. It was all a bit emotional, but needed for the time being – it was important for all of us to spend walking-time alone.
The picture above on the right was literally how it was the entire day – right next to the main road. Obviously not the pretties or quietest walk during The Camino.
I had a lunch-break some time after and of course, right when I got back out on the trail, guess who was in front of me? I took a picture below and that was right before I caught up with her.
As fate would have it though, we all ended up at the same albergue. Both Steffen and Esther was there and Daniela and Ricardo as well, so it also seemed quite difficult to get away completely, but maybe it was more important walking alone and then be together in the evening, it was a great combo either way.
It was an nun-albergue, a municipal that made community meals in the evening and where everybody staying there had to bring something and help prepare it.
After check-in the two vikings gathered with a few beers and Orujo´s on a near by square. It was always nice to hang out with Steffen and be around a fellow Dane.
The evening began with many of us helping to prepare food and eat together. After there was music in the lobby, a fun to way to gather with many pilgrims and experience all of this.
One of the most important things on The Camino was said during this that I will always remember. The man of the couple who ran this albergue said in a little speech to all of us, that “now when you are walking The Camino, you have the freedom to do it in whatever way you want and if you don´t feel freedom on this walk you will never feel freedom in your regular life either.”
He said the above because he related it to how a regular life is filled with obligations to yourself, family, work and so on and on this trip you basically don´t have any in comparison. It was quite a strong statement, but one that I feel was very accurate.
Carrión de los Condes = Terradillos de los Templarios = 26,3km (Day 18)
Next morning Gemma and me took the responsibility of making a warm oat-meal breakfast and had enough for everybody in “the family”. Steffen was the first one to go and after a little clean up I felt that it was now my turn. Esther was saying goodbye to all of us also, as she was heading to León from here and would not see us again because she would take off from there and back to Holland.
I was motivated to walk by myself and it was going to be a mental test for all pilgrims today! 4+ hours of straight flat walking with nothing but the same terrain was today´s recipe. Cool wind on a plain field, with sun but cool weather was the mix. Here, you got a real opportunity to be alone with yourself and not be distracted by scenery and for me, people.
A chance to focus on what was going on inside and through movement reveal some of those things you are there for and want to uncover through this journey and voyage that obviously is a physical, mental and spiritual one.
When arriving at the bar below from the plateau, many exclaimed how boring the walk was, how it was all the same and not exciting or beautiful. While I agreed with its less intensity of scenery, I disagreed with how boring it was, because I knew it was such an important time on The Camino – this was what you were here for – to explore yourself! For me, this was a vital time on The Way, because you are here for yourself and much more will be found on the inside here, than when you walk with a group and also are “distracted” by amazing scenery.
Not many people in the world are used to being alone, the silence and only having few distractions around and it is obvious it is a challenge for the mind. It is healthy though to gain some perspective of what that means and such a stretch gives you the opportunity but the question is, if you are listening?
At the bar Steffen had stopped for a break and we had a quick catch up before he headed on. I had a tea, did some writing but not too long after I went on my way again.
Arriving in Terradillos de los Templarios there were only two albergues to choose from. The first one I passed looked a little commercialzed and was in the outskirts, so to me it did not look attractive – I wanted to be in the village.
I arrived and was a real nice place, more pilgrim-like and what I prefer. I quickly checked-in found my room/bed and went outside to the top patio to eat some fruit, chocolate and do some writing. A little after a beautiful surprise stood in the door way – Gemma! “Hi” – she said and we gave each other a nice hug as she walked up to where I was sitting.
It was so nice to see her and it also gave me hope that we perhaps would see Ricardo and Daniela. Steffen stayed in the albergue before ours and came to pay us a visit.
Gale from Alaska came up to where I was sitting and we struck up a conversation. He and his son Dave who was almost blind was walking The Camino together. Dave got rather famous on the journey as that was of course quite amazing and also a beautiful father and son-story.
Gale told me something interesting that relates to what I began this blog with when it came to why people was beginning to feel the desire and need to walk alone.
He said that he had heard this idea from a few people and when he told me it totally made sense and along with that a whole host of connections and so on seemed to connect some dots to understand the pilgrim in ourselves and fellow pilgrims as well.
This is what he shared with me:
There are three phases that you go through on The Camino to Santiago…
This phase is about the physical breakdown of the body. The long distances, the pain and suffering that your body goes through. Not many if any are used to walking so long distances or ever have in their life and in the first phase it is simply getting your body used to this. It takes some time and I will say that it took about 10 days for me to feel “used” to it, because in my book, there were no easy days. Remember my blisters ans shin-splints? And I was far from one of the people having the worst of times…
This is the mental phase and one that opens the more you got used to the physical aspect of it, when the pain and suffering was “easier” to cope with and not the main focus anymore. Thoughts, habitual way of thinking, mental stress, attitude and many other things that relates to the “mind-aspect” was being worked here and a significant change of mind the great possibility. Another possible outcome is the acceptance of yourself and where you are in your life and also with the work you do and perhaps the life you have had up until this very point. Acceptance and gradual understanding of this, seemed to me to be a key point in this second phase. It got clear the more I thought about it and the more I talked to people about it.
Interestingly enough this was also when the more flat terrain began and ALSO here where people in our group as well as people in general felt it needed to be on their own. To me it seemd to connect some very mysterious dots. After 2+ weeks it was time for people to walk for the real reasons they were here and it was like the landscape and this idea of the second phase as natural as anything corresponded to this.
This is the spiritual or “heart” phase, where the deepest of human emotions can enter or is at least opened up for more and more. Being grateful for the moment, feel love for where you are walking, yourself, the people you are around, the nature and landscape you are witnessing and all in all more connected to who you are, the people you have in your life, the nature you are in and the universe at large.
The third phase will begin if it does during the end of The Camino, here you are used to the physical aspect and have also spend more time processing a lot of the stuff that you have had inside of you before The Camino and perhaps has gotten to the surface during the second phase. This also means that it is perhaps was more enjoyable, that many things had gotten natural in terms of this way of life, where you were and lifted up the good things even more although keep you very grounded. The landscape in the end of The Camino also became increasingly beautiful when entring Galicia – the remarkable connection and idea of these phases, the landscape how you felt and saw things more and more was SO mysterious and beautiful all at the same time.
Terradillos de los Templarios – Moratinos = 3,2km (Day 19 – Sickday)
Today became very different. We had a nice dinner and evening the night before, but during the night I developed an uncomfortable stomach-virus. I did not sleep, it was like what I had eaten was not able to be digested and just rumbled around in there.
Early hours in the morning I was just standing around, leaning and felt bloated. Gemma had similar symptoms and so did a few other people. I threw up before we left. We discovered that Daniela had also had the same thing the night before. I thought it would help to walk so we did even though Gemma and me felt like wounded animals walking behind.
We both wanted to stick together today and only 3km later, we stopped at a bar to take a break. Ricardo and Daniela could continue, but it was impossible for us. I fortunately threw up the third and last time outside the bar, before we found an albergue and literally slept for the next 20 hours.
We heard that because of how flat it is in this area, the water is more dirty because the water is still. I guess it was a mix of being tired, stomach virus and a time to accept that sometimes, you just need to relax and allow your body to recover.
Moratinos – Bercianos del Real Camino = 20,2km (Day 20)
We were a lot better this morning, but took it slow. We did not have a goal of a long journey today, but gradually felt we were getting back to normal. It was nice to have such a great companion during these two days and especially Gemma as she is such a sweet and gentle person.
Sahagún was a few villages away from where we started, but was the place Ricardo and Daniela had been for the night. We checked if they were still there, which they were not.
We continued and throughout the day it was all slowly getting better, although we still had to get through the day to fully recover. After around 20km it was time to stop and when entering Bercianos del Real Camino we found an albergue based on donations, which also had community dinner etc.
The biggest surprise today came after check-in when I came down the stairs from the rooms to head outside to write and hang out with Gemma, when a voice sitting at the check-in counter calmly said in Danish “Whats up Gideon?”
I looked perplexed and realized that it was a friend that I knew through the famous basketball school Oure, where we both went our 10th grade year. We were one year a part, but that place is special and many of us has a strong bond because of how special it is to be there. THAT was a surprise and he asked me, if I was out taking a little stroll down here? 🙂
We had a catch up talk after he had checked-in and how interesting was that to meet someone you actually knew from home on The Camino – wow!
I did the daily writing I always did at the end of every day to prepare for writing this blog and to reflect on what happened on the inner and outer world. It was soon getting to be dinner time and besides how nice that was, to sit and eat next to Troels, it was time to prepare for another lonely walk tomorrow.
Becianos del Real Camino – León = 45,4km (Day 21)
After waking up a little past 6 am Gemma and me said our goodbyes again, I walked alone the entire time until I reached Mansilla de las Mulas. I got there just around or a little after noon and felt like continuing. Even though I met Gemma who stayed here it was simply a time to be by ourselves, so I continued.
I had already walked about 26 km and there was another 19 to León, which was the destination I was heading for. This was during the strong heat, as the wind had settled and temperature increased significantly compared to the whole week. It was a hot and a walk that got longer and longer, because I got more and more tired and felt more and more pain.
It was dusty and heavy and even though I got closer it felt like not much happened. After a break on a top of a hill about 6-7 km outside of León it was really hard to get going again and I felt my feet were too small inside my shoes and perhaps swollen or something due to my shoes being too tight.
I began again and as I got closer to a blue zigzag-type of bridge that goes over the main road I believe I saw a very familiar backpack. I began to walk a little faster to be sure and even though I was not 100% I yelled “Where is Piere??!!!!” – it was Ricardo! Wow – my energy picked up! As I got over the bridge and was much closer due to his slower and very painful and gutty walk he turned around as I yelled the same again – it was SUCH a blessing to see him there and we gave each other a big brother hug and appreciated the moment.
Ricardo had grown into a great friend and companion – a very like minded person. We literally had such similar thoughts it was scary at times when we talked and so on.
We were both in pain, him with his feet and me well, I had just passed walking 40+ km for the day, and I could feel it, phew……! We finally got into León after having met the actual man who was the painter of all the yellow arrows in the area of León and told us we had some way to go -of course it being in the middle of city it had to be, man!
We eventually got there and after check-in and the usuals we had a siesta, it was all pure pain and exhaustion. We had a walk around town, a beer and nice conversation in a bar, where we of course had to bump into Daniela also.
Do you begin to see the magic of this journey, just a little bit?
Ricardo and me wanted to have one day of rest in León and………
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