My Life as a Traveler


It rained during the night. The ground was a bit damp and it was foggy. Uli and I, again ready at about the same time, leave before it’s light. We walk straight up a steep, hill on a dirt trail. My pack is particularly heavy because I am carrying the food that I bought in Belorado yesterday for lunch, but never used: a can of tuna, a can of roasted peppers, two tomatoes, some tiny apricot fruits, two nectarines, some almonds, and 4 nut/chocolate bars. Uli has some bread, cheese, fruit, and green peppers. I am determined to eat this food today.

It is 12 km through this gorgeous natural area to the next town. There are pine trees and bracken ferns; it reminds me of walking in the woods in Oregon. Parts of the road are muddy and we step around the puddles. We hear cuckoos in the trees as we pass by. Sometimes we see the tops of the windmills through the fog. There’s a monument to the fallen of the Spanish Civil War. There are some hills, down and up. It’s quiet and gorgeous, but cold; I’m glad I have my scarf and fleece.

We’re hungry, so we find a log and set up a picnic with our fruit, bread, and cheese. Other pilgrims pass by and wave. When Uli steps away, two small birds whirr over my head, looking for crumbs. I wish I had some to give them, but it’s all packed away.

Heading down out of the woods to the small town of San Juan de Ortega, it starts to misty rain. We’re getting wet, but can see the church and don’t want to stop to pull our rain gear out of our backpacks until we’re in a dry spot. It’s Sunday and the front walk of the church is covered in flower petals and rice. It’s 9am and the cafe has just opened up. Cafe con leche tastes sooo good here. Other pilgrims file in, have coffee, and put on their rain gear.

For the rain, I have a breathable rain jacket, rain pants that go over my regular pants, and a waterproof backpack cover. Uli has a poncho with a hood and an extra long back to cover her backpack. Benefits of poncho: one piece, less weight, throw it on. Benefits of separate rain gear: rain won’t drip down legs into shoes, not affected by wind, can take backpack off and still have everything dry. Both are good, just depends on what you like.

We are about 27km from Burgos, the next big town, famous for it’s cathedral. The Australian ladies join us as we’re suiting up and say they’re interested in taking a bus or taxi into town, as the walk into Burgos through the industrial area is ugly and long. There’s no bus in San Juan de Ortega, no bus in the next town, and no bus in the next town after that, Atapuerca, but we can call a taxi and share it. This sounds good, so we walk another 7km to Atapuerca (famous for it’s prehistoric cave finds), find a bar, and have the barkeep call for a taxi. We have a drink and a snack while waiting, then pile into the Mercedes when it shows up, and head into town, for 9euros each, saving a day’s walk. I text Morgan to tell him where I’m at and he texts back, accusing me of cheating. Yeah, well, this coming from a 17- or 19- or 22-year old!

Our albergue is above a chapel with only 16 beds, quiet, yet in the center of town. Since for once we’re not sweaty, we head directly to the main square and enjoy some calamares, boquerones (sardines in oil and garlic – delicious!) and sangria. We tour the gigantic Burgos cathedral, see some pilgrims we know in the square, walk around town a bit, then go back to take a shower before dinner.

Dinner is at Casa Pancho, a Rick Steves recommendation. At 6pm, they’re just opening, and we find a seat outside and have a vino del dia, yummmmy red wine. We are both online writing and posting and Facebooking. Eventually we begin the tapas: a fried egg on bread with a piece of sausage, marinated octopus, mushrooms stuffed with bacon, mussels in spicy sauce, sausage made of rice, blood, and pork (local specialty, actually good), a pepper stuffed with cheese covered in sauce, shrimp, and of course, chupitos of blueberry to finish. Best meal alllll Camino. In the meantime, people of all ages are starting to promenade by, looking for the best place for dinner tonight.

Mostly women in our albergue tonight, so snoring should be kept at a minimum. It’s 9:30pm and still light out. Night!














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