24 – 26 April – Atapuerca, It’s where Camino heaven and hell collide. I arrived in this non-descript little village after 18.6 miles of humping through the rain and snow flurries and finally, finally found a place to stay; the previous villages were ‘completo’ (booked). When I kicked my boots off and melted into the bed….I was in heaven. However, after getting a few ZZZs and a shower, the walk around the village was depressing. Everything was closed – thought I did find a small pub that had beer!
Siesta, that’s what it’s called. Everybody goes home and does something, but they don’t do it in the stores or on the streets. Everything is deserted (except, gratefully, my small bar). I did capture a cafe owner on his way out his place and stupidly asked him if he was closed….. He said ‘read the sign’ – Open at 1900, for dinner.
In some of the larger villages there”s always something to be found to do for the recently arrived Peligrino…not in Atapuerca.. The streets are rolled up and everybody has been put away. There is no internet and the cell coverage is poor to non-existent. Peligrino Hell. The only thing left to do is draft today’s blog entry.
The other day I met a guy walking the Camino who is Jewish. It made for an interesting initial conversation, the one all Peligrinos have – “why are you here?” Clearly it wasn’t for religious reasons as he had quickly reminded me that Jews often did not fair well in Catholic Spanish history. But, he was still walking for spiritual and adventurous reasons. Many others along the trail evince absolutely no identification to the Catholic Church or the concept of pilgrimage for penitence sake.
My liberal and universal use of the terms Pilgrim, Peligrino or Perigrino perhaps is not appropriate. So, I’m changing my naming convention to those that are on the ‘Way’ to ‘Caminoian’ or ”Caminoite”. I’ll use either, interchangeably, as the mood strikes me and offer an early apology to those purists who think the trail is attended by dedicated pilgrims seeking a closer oneness with their maker.
I received a spot sighting of my wandering Romanian friend. He was last seen out in an open field dancing and singing away, high as a kite; beholden to no man. Also, the Caminoite Dog made another appearance with his handler. He’s was looking well and happy in a distant town square as he a smoothly dodged between and away from all all the Caminoians wishing to pet him.
The walking is better but the sights, views and vistas seem less impressive than before. The ‘yellow brick road’ is, for the most part, very well kept and makes walking at a constant pace very easy. The churches and cathedrals are all beginning to look the same and their history somehow just blends into the one story. I should arrive in Burgos tomorrow for much needed rest and respite, and to go look at more nameless cathedrals and gorge on the glorious tappas and cerveza. Life as a caminoian is wonderful, particularly after one has found a quiet bed and open bar with tappas.
(editor’s note: My friend and fellow Caminoite Greg reminded me of one of the unique stories of one of the cathedrals the breaks the mold of forgetfulness. The Cathedral of Saint Dominque in the villiage that takes its name after him has an unusual quality – they keep a live rooster and hen in the cathedral in memory of a miracle inspired by St Dom to save the life of a young pilgrim.
The gist of it was that a local official was eating chicken when the parents of a hung boy (falsely accused of stealing) found him alive a day later. When the parents told the official to let him free (he was obviously innocent) he replied the boy was a dead as the chicken on his plate…at which time the chicken got up and walked away. The boy was saved, the legend was born and now a rooster and hen will live in the cathedral in perpetuity. So goes most legends throughout this country side.
Interesting Links (St Dom Belorado Atapuerca)
- Photos along the Camino and throughout the Iberian Peninsula
- Return to the beginning of this Journal Blog
- Enjoy our Journal Blog about our travels throughout Italy