{camino day 20} burgos to hornillos del camino

I got a late start this morning because outside my hotel some drunk hooligans were playing loud pulsing music at 5:45 and seemed to be messing with parked cars on the street.  The music suddenly quieted as they ran off; a policeman walked by, shining lights into the cars. Two drunk revelers stumbled by in wedding attire. I didn’t feel comfortable leaving in the dark with so much crazy action going on, so I waited until 7:15, still dark.

It was a long walk out of Burgos.  I made my way out of the city in the dark, trying to keep to the convoluted path indicated by the yellow arrows. The route out of Burgos was more pleasant than the stretch into the city, absent any disagreeable industrial complexes or blighted suburban landscapes.

I would begin the Meseta and its endless crop fields in earnest today, and I was preparing myself for long hot days ahead.

Burgos to Puente de Malatos (1.4km)

Still within the city limits, I fell into step with with Glauco from Brazil.  He didn’t speak much English, but as we walked out of the city he told me he was walking the Camino for his two dead sons. The first died at four days old; he was premature. The other died after ten months.  He said that son was very strong.  His wife was now five months pregnant. He had tattoos on each arm for each son and a tiny little baby onesie he carried with him.  He and I cried together and I told him I’d pray for him, his wife and his new baby.  We then walked companionably in silence out of the city.

We walked through the cobbled streets past the Jacobean church of San Pedro de la Fuente and then crossed the río Arlanzón over the Puente de Malatos, or Bridge of Maladies.


Glauco and me – our elongated shadows

We continued through the parque El Parral and out a gate at the far end past a tiny chapel dedicated to the humble pilgrim saint from France, San Amaro de peregrino, who, on his return from Santiago, settled here and dedicated his life to the welfare of other pilgrims.  He left a legacy of healing miracles. We passed through the King’s Gate, Puerta del Rey, and past the campus of Burgos University.

At some point along the way, Glauco and I parted ways as it was difficult for us to communicate beyond mere basics. I continued along a poplar plantation and noted the state prison’s watch towers on the far side of the river.  I walked on a road over the río Arlanzón and then through a tunnel under a railway, and then crossed a bridge over the new autopista.

Puente de Malatos to Camino to Puente autopista (6.1 km)



The track wended its way under the A-231 and over the N-120 and río Arlanzón via the puente del Arzobispo.  The track continued along the N-120 to a roadside cross (Cruceiro) at the entrance to Tardajos.

Puente autopista to Tardajos Cruceiro (3.1 km)


Fiat 500

The path, which passed close by the river, was bordered by poplars, alders and some ashes.


poplars along the river

When I reached Tardajos, I had a patata tortilla, orange juice and cafe con leche, my normal second breakfast.  I was still feeling raw over the last three days’s struggles, but I felt like I wasn’t alone in my struggles.  Everyone struggles with something, as I realized when walking with Glauco.











On leaving Tardajos on a local road, I finally had a conversation with Ludwig, who I’d met at Beilari in St-Jean-Pied-de-Port at the beginning of the Camino. He lived in California and was retired.  I’d crossed paths with him many times, but we’d never chatted before.  I always assumed he disliked me for some reason.  He said he left Prague in 1966 and it was the best thing he ever did.  He said in every church, he prayed that Trump would have a stroke so that he couldn’t tweet or talk and would sh*t all over himself. He found it unbelievable that so many people voted for him.

I parted ways with Ludwig in Rabé de las Calzadas, and we would never chat again. I was happy to have connected with him finally. After a couple more towns, I never saw him again. I don’t know if he gave up on his Camino, lagged behind me (unlikely) or passed me somewhere along the line.

Tardajos to Rabé de las Calzadas (2.4 km)

I passed quickly through Rabé de las Calzadas, which was simply one long street punctuated by a fountain with iron jets decorated with scallop shells.


fountain in Rabé de las Calzadas

I walked past the 13th century Iglesia de Santa Mariña, a church in Rabé de las Calzadas.

Rabé de las Calzadas to Fuente de Praotorre to Hornillos del Camino (8 km) 

On the way out of town, I passed the tiny Ermita de Nuestra Señora de Monasterio, where a service was in progress, before heading up onto the Meseta.


Small church in Rabé de las Calzadas


Rabé de las Calzadas to Fuente de Praotorre


Rabé de las Calzadas to Fuente de Praotorre

Along the broad treeless plain to Hornillos del Camino, which included two steep inclines, I ran into David and Michelle from England, who I’d also met in St-Jean-Pied-de-Port.  I was glad I wasn’t way behind everyone I’d started with.

I continued through the landscape of the Meseta with its sacred stones (piedras santos) and cereal fields stretching to the horizon.  I smiled as I passed a bare-chested shepherd with his flock of sheep.


sacred stones (piedras santos) on the Meseta


neat haystacks


neat haystacks


shepherd & his flock

As we walked along the long hot trail, an Irish lady drove by in her car to promote her business, The Green Tree, at the far end of Hornillos del Camino, by handing out huge cold grapes to pilgrims. Those grapes were such a welcome and refreshing treat.


Fuente de Praotorre to Hornillos del Camino

I finally reached the high point on the Meseta.  At the crest of the hill going into Hornillos was a guy playing guitar and singing. I gave him a couple of euros before descending steeply down what is known as the Mule-Killer Slope (Cuesta Matamulas).


Mule-Killer Slope (Cuesta Matamulas)

At the bottom of the descent, I walked along a quiet road that ran alongside the río Hormazuela.


Fuente de Praotorre to Hornillos del Camino

I continued on to Hornillos del Camino, checked into my albergue, Meeting Point, showered and did laundry. I found that I got my first blister on my left pinky toe.  I was bummed because I’d been blister-free so far.

Then I walked to the far end of town to The Green Tree.  The Irish lady’s self-promotion persuaded me to try out her café!


Meeting Point


Hornillos del Camino

On the way to The Green Tree, I stopped into the Gothic Church of San Román Plaza de la Iglesia.


San Román Plaza de Iglesia

The church was stunning inside. As always, I prayed for my Camino, my serenity, and my family.

I strolled through the quiet town of Hornillos del Camino with its small population of 60 people.


Hornillos del Camino


Hornillos del Camino

At The Green Tree, I enjoyed a goat cheese salad, hummus and pita, and a rosé spritzer. It wasn’t often we could find such healthy options on the Camino.

I ran into Michelle and David, who couldn’t find a room in town and were waiting for a taxi to take them two more towns along. David and Michelle joined me for lunch and David told me a long story.  Glauco was there and joined us as well. David’s mother and father had him out of wedlock, so his mother’s sister and her husband adopted him. His biological mother and father later got married, but they didn’t want much to do with him. After many years of trying to have a relationship with his biological mother, he finally decided to cut them off.  Later, when his mother was dying, she wanted to see him.  He refused and she died.  His biological father started writing to him with kindness, so he made an attempt to have a relationship with him despite not really caring one way or another about him. He was trying to do the kind thing because he could, and he and Michelle planned to visit his biological father on the Costa del Sol after their Camino.

I told them about my loved one and his “flat earth” thoughts and conspiracy theories, and they weren’t that shocked. David said many young people these days express these same concerns. Michelle said she believed that astronauts didn’t really land on the moon, that it was all staged. I felt somehow calmed by their sharing.  I also found serenity in a poem I found in the café by John O’Donohue.

At the Meeting Point, we shared a pilgrim meal prepared by the owner, Omar, and his sister.  They made delicious paella, salad, and lemon custard, accompanied by wine.  I sat next to two Danish ladies, Marianne and Mette, who worked together as teachers in a middle school.  I said, “Oh, you’re like Rita!” (from the Danish TV series of the same name).  We had a lovely time all around.

Mike sent me photos of the last two daily readings from One Day at a Time in Al-Anon. They somehow gave me peace about the situation with our loved one. I determined that I would keep walking and sharing and listening and learning.  This was, after all, my Camino, my lessons to learn, my life, and I needed to simply keep walking my path and figuring out how to negotiate life’s challenges as they arose.


*Day 20: Sunday, September 23, 2018*

*32,169 steps, or 13.91 miles: Burgos to Hornillos del Camino (20.5 km)*

You can find everything I’ve written so far on the Camino de Santiago here:


On Sundays, I post about hikes or walks that I have taken in my travels; I may also post on other unrelated subjects. I will use these posts to participate in Jo’s Monday Walks or any other challenges that catch my fancy.

This post is in response to Jo’s Monday Walk: Mértola’s 10th Islamic Festival.