I left Atapuerca along a broad stony track at 6:45 a.m. with the two Aussies, Tony and Ray. I had a long talk with Tony as we climbed steadily upward to the top of an unnamed hill. His son, now 32, is bipolar and has been “locked up” five times. Tony has had issues with him since he was 17. In Australia, he told me, a person can be committed if the person endangers his reputation – by getting in debt, losing jobs, etc. Tony suggested we talk to mental health professionals to get help and advise us what we can do about our loved one. He said it was lazy not to do this. I didn’t think we had been lazy, but maybe we’d been in denial. I said to Tony that I’d already been through this with my mother, so why me again? I felt like I was going to cry, so I let him go ahead and then I had a good cry as I climbed uphill.
Atapuerca to Cruz de Matagrande Punto de Vista (2.2 km)
At the high point of 1,050 meters, we found the Cruz de Matagrande (cross) and a labyrinth marked in stones alongside a military installation. We could see the sparse oak wood through which we’d descend, as well as the broad plain of Burgos, dotted with the villages we’d pass through to get there. We made our way down from the summit, admiring the crocuses underfoot, the building-size haystacks and a big blue bus advertising an albergue.
Cruz de Matagrande to Cardeñuela Riopico (3.1 km)
At Cardeñuela Riopico, I stopped for a second breakfast of a vegetarian tortilla, cafe con leche, and orange juice. My Québécois friends, who didn’t leave Atapuerca until 8:00 a.m., whizzed past me. It seemed people were always whizzing past me.
Cardeñuela Riopico to Orbaneja (2.1 km)
After another 30 minutes along a flat paved road, I was in Orbaneja. Since I’d just eaten, I didn’t stop.
People had told us that the approach to Burgos was the least pleasant and most tiresome stretch on the entire Camino. My Quebec friends said they planned to take a bus into town to avoid it, because it was so boring and endless.
There were two choices of routes to get into town, but neither were appealing. The traditional route, followed by most pilgrims, went along a local road from Orbaneja to Villafría; from there it ran along the main N-1, where vehicles would roar by, dangerously close. On this route, the kilometers would seem double their normal length. The other route, more quiet and unsightly, but not so dangerous, ran on a long pathway along a perimeter fence around an airport, past an area of waste ground strewn with rubble, leading to the town of Castañares.
Orbaneja to Castañares (4.6 km)
After Castañares, we began the long arduous walk alongside the rio Arlanzón into Burgos (population 180,000). It was so depressing walking through suburban sprawl, a sports ground, and industrial areas – gravel works, smokestacks, a metal junkyard, another industrial plant, and a river culvert de rio Arlanzón into the Parque Fluvial (ecosistema de Ribera de rio Arlanzón). There were many tracks through the extensive parkland, but as long as we kept the river to our right, we couldn’t get lost.
Scenic Route: Túnel (3.8 km)
At the túnel, the pedestrian bridge connected to the “official” waymarked route at a roundabout. I couldn’t describe how I got the rest of the way to my hotel, which was most definitely NOT in the center of Burgos. I turned on the Travel Pass on my phone so I could be directed by GPS to Hotel Monjes Magnos, near the library and San Lesmes. I wanted to check in, but I was too early, so I left my backpack and went into the center of Burgos to meet Ingrid, who had texted me, for lunch. I had walked such a long distance today that I really wanted a shower before going out, but it was impossible since I couldn’t check in.
Burgos Centro (3.9 km)
Ingrid and I enjoyed a nice lunch and she updated me on her Camino. She had stayed an extra day in Burgos because she’d worn herself out by going super long distances with fast walkers and trying to keep up with them. She planned to take a taxi to some point before Castrojeriz; from that point she would walk to that town. She had to make up for the extra day she took in Burgos because she was due to meet her partner in Paris about a week before I was due to meet my husband in Braga, Portugal. It was great to meet up with her again.
When it was time for check-in at my hotel, I backtracked quite a distance, checked in and showered. At that time, I discovered that my loved one had blocked me, but not anyone else in the family, from Instagram and Facebook, and he had stopped sharing his location with me. I felt deeply hurt by this.
Usually my hurt feelings turn quickly to anger. I was pissed off. I decided I was going to wash my hands of him. He didn’t realize he had alienated one of his biggest allies and from now on, he would rue the day. I was so sick of him blaming me for all the bad decisions he had made in his life. He still harbored anger and resentment over me leaving his father for seven years, from 2007-2014 (we reconciled after that). I understood his hurt, as he took it as an abandonment of him; we had always been very close. Still, it was well past time he needed to get over it and move on. I wrote Mike that I no longer want to help him and his brother get an apartment together and he would NEVER live under our roof again. I would not even attend any family gathering of which he were a part. I was so sick of carrying the burden of him and at that point, I was done! I could be so ruthless and cold when I decided to cut someone out of my life. I had done it before in life, and I wouldn’t hesitate to do it again.
That being said, I did often easily let people back into my life if they were remorseful and sincerely wanted to reconnect. That is me in a nutshell: easily hurt, quick to anger, and ready to forgive under the right circumstances. We all do have our faults.
I actually felt some relief having made that decision. I guess the feeling was akin to “letting go,” but not with love, as was the ideal. I was “letting go” in anger. I told myself I would refuse to ever tiptoe around him again. I’d always been so worried about sending him into a tailspin that I could never speak my mind. He would have to grovel before me if he ever wanted any relationship with me! He would be screwed! I could be very hard-hearted when I decided to be. Admittedly, most of these resolutions were all bluster, but at the moment, those kinds of decisions helped me cope with great emotional turmoil.
After getting all my anger out of me, I shrugged off the whole problem of my loved one and walked back into town to meet Ingrid for dinner. On the way, I took some photos of the church near my hotel, the 15th century San Lesmes.
It was lovely to spend time with Ingrid again. I tried to let go of all my problems and to enjoy myself. It turned out I wouldn’t see Ingrid again for the rest of my Camino, though I’d hear from her through Whatsapp and later Facebook and Instagram.
I took some pictures of the 13th century Catedral de Santa María while I was in the old town. I didn’t go inside, as I planned to stay two nights in Burgos and would have all the next day to explore.
It was excruciatingly loud outside my hotel because a music festival was playing, amplified and screeching, right next door. Finally, I got a hotel on the Camino, and I’d be lucky to sleep a wink!
*Day 18: Friday, September 21, 2018*
*34,547 steps, or 14.64 miles: Atapuerca to Burgos (21.2 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.