Walking without a donkey 14: Camino Frances, San Juan to Burgos

29.10.16 San Juan de Ortega to Burgos, on foot

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San Juan de Ortega

Why did I come back to the Camino? I think I had already fallen in love! Walking out into a day like this, who wouldn’t?

dsc_1156.jpgCertainly the world had that glow about it. camino frances 1543.JPGThe simplicity of walking out at dawn with only the immediate to think about. Holding hands with the landscape, falling into step with the climate, walking alongside the smells and tastes of each region as I passed through. Sharing only the necessary things of life: food, sleep, moving forwards.

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Kissing the colours of Autumn, embracing the opportunities that waited for me; arriving in a new place, and exploring the unfamiliar streets, churches, shops and cafes; resting on my bunk simultaneously listening to music; exchanging stories in unfamiliar tongues. The looked-for love affair that took me out of myself, and at the same time dropped me right into the essence of my being.

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As well as resting places, the many crosses and cairns (the Scottish word for a pile of stones often found in the hills and along paths), serve as locations for carefully selected rocks, placed by walkers to mark the spot. We give thanks for what has come to us. That we are still on our feet and continuing to walk the beautiful Camino.

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In Scotland, in summer, we often say to each other how lovely that the warmth brings people out of their houses, out of their thick, protective clothing, and liberates their chatter and laughter. Here I was in a seemingly perpetual summer, sun on my bare arms and legs, with the energy flowing up from the ground I was pacing, liberating me, and lightening my heart.

‘..the call of the great outdoors…the need to provoke…transgressions, to give substance at last to folly and dreams’.                           p.5 A Philosophy of Walking, Frederic Gros.

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(Such a contrast to walking in Edinburgh in January! No-one smiles or gives a cheery ‘Buen Camino’as I stride past. My nostrils are full of exhaust fumes so I can barely notice the smells of the hedges and herbs in the gardens I walk past. If it wasn’t for last night’s snow highlighting the fields and hills of Fife over the water, which I can thankfully see through the skeleton trees at the end of the road, there would only be cars and rushing people.)

As I have seen Burgos, which is today’s destination, twice already, I walk through and out towards the other side. This way I avoid the crowds in the centre, and sashay along the glorious river bank, discovering the outskirts later that evening.

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