Day 10, Oct 8: Burgos to San Nicolas, 30mi

Yes, 30 miles, which is about 50k.  Wasn’t I just talking a couple days ago about less expectation and making new physical and mental pathways?  I want to speak to this.  It’s one of the main topics of my thinking, pondering, praying during my Camino journey.  I have always been a go-getter, do-er, and I love to push myself.  I was well-suited for an Ironman athlete, and I did that sport (to varying degrees) for about 11 years.  I continually “fight” with myself about my intrinsic desire to push myself and see how far/fast/hard I can go, mostly physically and mentally as well.  The “fight” comes from opposing factors to my natural personality which can be anything from personal relationships and family, to work demands, to friends and others who comment on my need to GO GO GO.  It’s admired in some ways, and can be resented in others, depending on who you are in realtionship in my life.

Out here on the Camino, there is no mandated regime, nothing that says you must do so many miles (or kilmeters) on any given day.  Santiago de Compostela is the “end-point” for most Pilgrims, but then there is also another end-point called Finisterre (literallly, “End of the Earth”) at the western coast of Spain at the end of this Camino route (87k past Santiago)  Many people bus or bike for some portion of the Camino, in order to accomplish what they want to get out of this.  I have considered bussing, if needed, but would rather walk on my own two feet if I am able.

My internal fight is about WHY I am the way I am.  WHY do I always want to go farther, and push myself?  Historically, it’s been a source of contention for me because being this way interferes with relationships.  Going long, doing many miles (or much exercise, or much work) every day takes a lot of time.  When one is in a relationship of any kind (dating, marriage, family, friendships of any kind), to take so much personal time to exercise (or simply walk, in this case), can be looked upon critically because it takes away from time spent with others.

I’m two weeks in, and have been thinking about this topic daily.  Sometimes I practice STOPPING.  And I make myself finish earlier in the day to do something else – enjoy the scenery, be a tourist, read a book or my Bible.  And I do enjoy it!  And other days, I allow myself to walk as long as I can, usually until a daylight deadline because I never want to walk when it’s dark.  Arriving at an Albergue by 6:30 is always my goal, which gives me about an hour before dark, to arrive and check in, shower and find a place to eat.

I have asked God WHY am I like this?  WHY do I like to push myself physcially and mentally so much when it intereferes with other parts of life?  For now, my answer (from Him) is “I will not answer that”.  I realize that God is not in the business of answering our WHY’s?  He is in the business of conversation with us about the HOWs.  No matter if you believe in God or not, think about this:  Regarding whatever question you ask WHY about, would you be satisfied with the answer?  WHY did my loved one get sick?  WHY did I lose my job, or come into bad circumstances?  WHY can’t I make this marriage work?  WHY  do I always get injured when I set out to accomplish a physical task?….Innumerable questions.  A better question is HOW; this is what I have concluded so far.  HOW do I deal with the circumstances I have been given?  This applies to everything from a loved one dying to having a personality that makes one want to always push the limit.  If you do believe in God, HOW do I work with Him to make this [circumstance] work in a healthy way in my life?

I am being very transparent with you, oh Vast Internet, because this is a main thought in my head every day on this journey.  I’ve not mastered it, I am still practicing pushing myself on many days, as is my go-to tendency, but the difference for me right now is that I am actually mindful of it.  It’s ok to push my distance here when I have daylight, I’m healthy, and I’m here solo – my desire to walk long does not affect anyone.  When I am in my regular life, I have many more people to think about and must adjust for what is appropriate for the circumstance.

Enlightening!

So, today.  Yes, I walked 30 miles.  I was fatigued and uncomfortable for the last 1-2 hours, but it was totally worth it.

I arrived at a 13th-century building that was restored by an Italian Confraternity and is only open from May-September.  ….Which means I didn’t think it would be open and I had 1.7 more km to walk till my day was done.  But for some reason, they were staying open through Sunday 10/11 this  year.

An older man by the name of Lino came outside as I trudged by (I thought I had 1.7km more to walk till my albgergue for the night).  He enthusiastically invited me in, in Spanish.  I was hesitant, because I had read in my guidebook that they were only open through September, and they didn’t have electricity.  I asked him about that.  He said the main building (old church converted into an albergue) was only lit by candlelight, but the back-house with showers and bathroom had electricity and hot water.  Stay here, he said.  I said Yes, I will.

This was one of my best memories thus far on the Camino.  San Nicolas is a “Donativo” Albergue, which means they do not charge a fee.   You pay if and what you are able to donate.  Dinner and breakfast are all included.  There were only 12 beds in this place.  Lino, and 3 other volunteers, one other main one named Elba, performed a “welcoming ceremony” of foot-washing and a blessing before we (only 8 of us Pilgrims were there) partook in a family dinner.  It was amazing.  They prayed for our safety and blessing along out journey, actually washed each of our feet, and kissed them as a sign of servitude.  This is remniscent of the bible stories of foot-washing and kissing the feet of Jesus in humble adoration and servitude to Him.  It sounds a little weird, but it was not strange at all.  Their absolute genuine love, kindness, and generosity was apparent and I soaked it up.  After a day of walking 30 miles, I felt extremely cared for.

The meal was wine, bread, cured meats and cheese, rice, sauteed peppers, chicken, and fruit salad for dessert.  All by candlelight.  I truly cannot share with you how amazing this experience was.

The next morning, I awoke to others rustling in their beds, because it was totally dark.  I turned on my headlamp, and Lino was going around lighting candles.  A simple breakfast of coffee and warm milk, bread and jam was served, and before each of us left, Lino and Elba said a prayer of blessing over us.

We are now in the “Meseta”, which is a fairly monotonous, flat-ish part of the Camino that lasts for days.  It is very chilly in the mornings, with fog, and very warm-hot by late morning through the afternoon with the sun full-bore and no shade.  This morning was foggy, chilly, and beautiful.

San Nicolas will be closing up for the year, until May 2016, on Sunday.  I say a prayer of thanks and blessing on Lino, Elba, and all those who make that special albergue such a place of humble servant-hood.

On my walk today, I passed through a construction zone.  I was amazed at how the Camino route was carefully re-marked, so that no one got lost among the work that was being done, which changed the course a bit.  This is another example to me about how the Pilgrims on this Camino are really cared for; this is truly taken seriously and respected.

On my walk today, I passed through a construction zone. I was amazed at how the Camino route was carefully re-marked, so that no one got lost among the work that was being done, which changed the course a bit. This is another example to me about how the Pilgrims on this Camino are really cared for; this is truly taken seriously and respected.

Me with some of the dry Meseta behind me.  It is not as scenic as much of the earler Camino, but has its own arrid beauty and allows for thoughts to come and go as you put one foot in front of the other for miles and miles.

Me with some of the dry Meseta behind me. It is not as scenic as much of the earler Camino, but has its own arrid beauty and allows for thoughts to come and go as you put one foot in front of the other for miles and miles.

 

Mostly flat, warm (hot) landscape from Burgos into the next provide (which is Palencia, ,and I will get to tomorrow). Wind turbines in the background

Mostly flat, warm (hot) landscape from Burgos into the next providence (which is Palencia, and I will get to tomorrow). Wind turbines in the background

 

The ruins of ancient Convento de San Anton right along the Camino; I passed under it arond 3pm under a brillian-blue sky and felt in awe of the history there.

The ruins of ancient Convento de San Anton right along the Camino; I passed under it arond 3pm under a brillian-blue sky and felt in awe of the history there.

 

Candlelight dinner at San Nicolas; I will never forget this!

Candlelight dinner at San Nicolas; I will never forget this!

Chilly morning with fog lifting in San Nicolas, before I set out.  It was about 40 degrees until the sun was fully up; later it was in the 70s.

Chilly morning with fog lifting in San Nicolas, before I set out. It was about 40 degrees until the sun was fully up; later it was in the 70s.

 

A back view of San Nicolas church/albergue (the main building with no electricty)

A back view of San Nicolas church/albergue (the main building with no electricity)

Lino on the far right, Whitney in the middle, Elma in red to Whit's left, and a neighbor Danial (left) that was invited into the photo as we were taking it!

Lino on the far right, Whitney in the middle, Elba in red to Whit’s right, and a neighbor Danial (left) that was invited into the photo as we were taking it! Lino and Elba are extremely inclusive :)

 

 

 

3 Responses to “Day 10, Oct 8: Burgos to San Nicolas, 30mi”

  1. Molly Briggs says:

    whit that one picture of the fog with the tree is absolutely beautiful! you should share it with Charlie Anderson!
    xox Molly

    • admin says:

      Thank you for your comments and support Molly! I am no photographer, but the images out here are amazing, every day. Charlie, and all our photographers and artists, would love it. Thanks for the compliment! Miss you, and Frasier, and everyone.-Whit

  2. yvettemarie33 says:

    Wow, I got a bit teary eyed, reading about the San Nicolas welcoming ceremony. For these strangers to exhibit the love and spirit of a family member is incredible. This process of introspection you began to embark upon takes so much strength. The Why’s and now the “how’s” of what to do going forward, I believe will continue to come to you forever going forward. I can’t wait to keep seeing the food and the sites AND introspection and stories#

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