Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Burgos to Hontanas and on to Castrojerez

Weather is forecast for 33 degrees today and, once on the wide open expanses of the Meseta, there will be little shade from the elements. I will stay healthy and hydrated.

This small chapel marks the beginning of the Meseta

As far as the eye can see........

There is something very hypnotic and beautiful about the Maseta. One walks forward, placing one foot in front of the other. That's all one has to do. Stay in the moment and forget that refreshing ice-cold beer at days-end.

Convento de San Anton

Woman and her dog

Approaching Castrojerez
That's nice - walking with the family pet all the way from France to Santiago de Compostela.

"How is your dog enjoying the walk?"

"At day's end, she is like me. She's shattered."

"Are you allowed to stay in Refugios along the way?"

"Not always. I've had to sleep out in the countryside from time to time."

I plan to walk 32 kilometres today and so will start  my journey at 6.00 a.m. so as to avoid the mid-day sun. I am trying to buck the trend made famous by Noel Coward and his song: "Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun" Trouble is that the Refugio where I have been staying is under lockdown until 6.30 a.m, so I am late starting. I will have a light breakfast after walking my first 10 kilometers.

I come to the unprepossessing town of Tardajos and at a junction in the road, just before the beginning of the Meseta, there is a large stone fountain for pilgrims to refill water bottles. A couple of Italian men are pressing on the brass button to start the flow of water but with no result. Jokingly, I go up to them, issue a blessing in my best Latin: "Introibo ad altare dei; ad deum qui letificat, juventutum meam," take a step forward and tap the fountain with my walking stick. To my surprise and theirs, the water starts to flow. My secret is that I had inadvertently trod on a small disc-shaped foot release peddle embedded in the concrete. That, in conjunction with the brass button, enabled the water to flow. "Laus tibi Christi!"

Once on the flat plains of the Meseta there is nobody around and I need to change the photo card on my camera. There seems to be data on the new card and, on closer examination, it is of my girlfriend, Patricia, playing piano and singing "Danny Boy" at a concert in Cleveland. It is a slow and pensive version of this song and, in combination with the solitude of the wide open plains, brings me to tears. Patricia, I know you are travelling with me.

Walking alone allows me to go to that place of great joy and gratitude for all the things that I have in my life. Despite the extreme heat, my walk is brilliantly meditative and I feel euphorically lucky to be alive.

I haven´t entirely avoided walking in the mid-day sun and arrive in Hontanas at 2.30 p.m. I join Alan, Sophie and a group of Irish people for dinner and drinks. They don;t like to stay in Refugios but prefer the comfort and privacy of hotels.

The dormitory accommodation of most Refugios. Lower bunks are much in demand
I will walk to Castrojerez in the morning, a mere 10 kilometres and enjoy this small town for the whole day. I have the time and the inclination to rest well before continuing my way on the Meseta. This is not a competition, I have only myself to please and I will determine my own journey.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like you are doing a good job of taking care of yourself. You are definitely blessed in so many ways!