Days 12 & 13: Atapuerca to Burgos to Hornillos del Camino

Saturday night in Atapuerca ended up being a fun one. I shared a pasta dinner with a group of Italians, Spaniards and a Portuguese man. Pasta all’amatriciana. Nothing like bacon and carbs. The first and only time I have had this before was from my Italian friend Andrea when he cooked it for me once. Felt nice to eat something so yummy and simple that also brought back a nice memory from home. So the thing that made this night so special was that we were all speaking this very strange combination of Italian, Spanish and English. Somehow we all communicated very well! It felt great to feel like a part of a family at the table together, sharing vino and stories of our travels on the Camino thus far. A good night’s sleep made way for an early start on the Camino on Sunday morning. I set off with two of my American friends and a Spanish girl we had just met. She was traveling the Camino just for a few days on her holiday weekend. The morning was shrouded with fog and we had barely any moonlight, so the headlamps were essential. Thankfully, none of us twisted an ankle on the very rocky pathway.

A very short 20km walk took us to the beautiful city of Burgos. I said my goodbyes to my friends and went on my own to a church-run albergue just off the Camino. Only 5 Euro and the nicest place I’ve stayed! The two French volunteers running the albergue were so sweet and hospitable. I was there with just a Belgian girl who was nursing her damaged feet, a Lithuanian family of three, a few young men from South Korea that had met on the Camino, and a very silent German woman who didn’t join us for dinner. After I was settled in, I took off for the city to meet my friends for one last round of vino tintos (okay, three rounds – small pours!) and to explore the cathedral. The cathedral was absolutely gorgeous! I did the self-guided audio tour for an hour or so then met my friends. Our time together was extremely bittersweet, topped off by the fact that one of my friends had just received word that he had lost a member of his family that morning. It was awful to see my friend in pain like that. Please send your prayers to him and to his mother and grandmother. Now he walks his Camino for his grandfather, Roger.

After some big hugs with these two friends, I walked back to my albergue and attended the evening mass followed by our dinner together with the pilgrims and the hostesses of the albergue. We shared a prayer, I was asked to sing a song, and then we hit the hay.

This morning I woke up to the sound of a choir singing an Agnus Dei… no joke. These ladies of the albergue know how to peacefully wake up some pilgrims! There were speakers in the ceiling I had not even noticed before. What a delight! A nice breakfast together and then I was on my way, all by myself, to the next stop of Hornillos del Camino. I stopped for one more coffee before leaving Burgos and heard an awesome song on the television there that inspired me for the day: “One Foot” by Walk the Moon. Give it a listen here!

It was a long walk for such a short day of only 21km. Most of it was very exposed to the sun with no shade. The beginning of my way, I was accompanied by feathered friends flittering along the Camino with me, but as the midday sun grew hotter, I found myself alone, save a few Red Kites swirling above in the blue sky. It is a very hot, very dry October. Everything has turned brown and is at the same time beautiful, sad and lovely. I can tell the earth is ready for rain, and looking at the forecast, it seems that it will be in my Camino for the next three days or so. Hoping that I am good at the Camino in the wet weather! I felt all morning like I was really rushing through my walk. I kept passing pilgrim after pilgrim, and felt like certainly I must be missing things – I knew I needed to slow down. So I decided to take a rest break in the town before my final stop and order a full-sized breakfast. Eggs, meatballs, French fries and salad – oh boy, was it gooooood. That definitely slowed me down. But those last few kilometers under the hot sun with my full stomach were quite difficult.

For now I am finally resting at my albergue in Hornillos, avoiding the hot sun while I wait for my laundry and hope that it will dry in time to wear tomorrow. The walk in the morning is an easy 20km, but likely it will be just as exposed as today’s walk, so an earlier start sounds good.

Thank you SO much to the amazing sponsors of Day 12: my cousin Sharon H. and my awesome colleague Ronit D.! And a big thank you to my sponsors of Day 13: my inspiring and super supportive brother Kyle and his wife Amy (my very first sponsors!) and the delightful Amy B. who is a dear friend of my Oma and who is celebrating her 95th birthday today. Happy birthday Amy!

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