Only 39km to Burgos
Trudging over three wooded hills didn’t look like a fun start to the morning but Tasmanian Devil Scott made my day by calling out and offering me a cup of coffee from his brew on the last summit, near the Monumento de los Caídos, the simple monument to the fallen fighters of the Spanish Civil War in 1936. I wouldn’t see Scott for another couple of weeks, till we bumped into one another on my last evening in Santiago.
I walked alone then, through villages and along the edge of busy roads, passing the prehistoric Atapuerca caves, a UNESCO World Heritage site where human remains dating back 900,000 years had been discovered. I promised myself I’d return some day then headed off the road and climbed a long rough track all the way up to Cruicero, The Cross, at a bare, rocky 3510ft with a view to the faraway city of Burgos. I drank the last of my water here then plodded wearily on.
Walking through the endless, deserted industrial estates and the perimeter of Burgos airport where there was no shade or water fountains was a grim experience and I was sorely tempted by a shout from across the road from Brian and Elaine, ensconced in a bar, but knew I’d struggle to ever start again if I stopped. Finally, entering the city gates, I found the welcome sign of the scallop shells inlaid in the cobbles leading to the Municipal Hostel where friends had arranged to gather, only to find it was “completo”. Full.
It’s hard to walk for 12 hours focused on a goal only to have it snatched away at a reception desk as you stand there, dripping in sweat, with an aching, exhausted body. But “the Camino provides” and, as always, after a shower we had a great evening, easily summoning the energy to limp the streets, check out a few bars and sit down to a good meal (the strange custardy dessert notwithstanding) before crashing.
It had been a big day.