It was raining when I awoke this morning, a steady drum outside of the cracked window near my bed. I lingered over coffee in the albergue kitchen and by the time I set to go the rain had stopped.
Yesterday, while everyone else stuffed their shoes with newspaper to dry them, I’d been in the bar drinking wine with the ghost of Hemingway. So my shoes were still wet as I slipped them on and I cursed myself a little for my carelessness. Still, the wine was worth it.
The morning sky was the color of a bruise. Pilgrims walked westward down the rural road out of town wearing ponchos that looked like robes and gave the scene a cult-like feel. I was alone and it was quiet. Even once this journey is over I think that I will keep this early-morning tradition of walking.
The first half of today’s walk was easy, up and down gravel farming roads. About two hours into the day we climbed a small hill and at the top stood a tall wooden cross. The view from atop the hill was beautiful. Mom, I left one of your rocks here and thought of you.
I stayed at the cross longer than the other pilgrims, it looked so commanding there in the presence of the dark rain clouds. Maybe I shouldn’t admit this while on a Catholic pilgrimage, but I’ve always had a visceral negative reaction to the sign of the cross. Anyway, I stood at the base of that cross, and left the rock for my mom, and I thought about how God is so much bigger than religion.
The rain held off and the rural roads turned urban as I made my way towards Burgos. I walked on the highway brim and through the outskirts of the city, tromping past tire manufacturers in the industrial district. My feet ached like crazy.
Through the honking traffic and chaos of downtown Burgos I followed the yellow Camino arrows into the old city and found the albergue. My friends from day 8 were sitting outside, drinking beer, and I joined them. It began to rain.
Now, I am showered and typing these notes in my lower bunk, number 223. Later I will head out to explore the grand cathedral of Burgos, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Today I walked 14 miles (22 km).