Day 14: San Juan de Ortega – Burgos

What started as a fine day (quite cool at 9 degrees when I left San Juan de Ortega at 07:30), turned out to be a rather uninspiring one.

From San Juan one follows a little footpath to the hamlet of Agés, and from there one walks a narrow country road to Atapuerca.
This area is famous for its archeological and paleontological finds – the oldest human remains in Europe were found in the area.

Just out of Atapuerca one walks up a hill, following a wire fence with warnings not to scale the fence as it’s a military zone.
As one reaches the top of the hill, Burgos – quite a large city in Spain – is already visible, albeit another 15 or 16km’s walk away.

At the bottom of the hill one goes onto tarmac and walks through the small villages of Villalbal, Cardeñuela Riopico, Orbaneja Riopico, and Villafría.
But then the fun stops.

The last probably 11km, walking into the centre of Burgos, takes you through the most underwhelming and uninspiring areas you can think of.

Firstly, one basically walks all around the perimeter fence of Burgos airport (hardly exciting), before going through a very dull new housing development.

What follows is miles through an industrial area that looks like something from a Tarantino movie – empty office and factory buildings, massive double lane roads with hardly any traffic etc.
It is extremely depressing.

The centre of Burgos, the old part – luckily where most albergues are – is in fact picture perfect. Fantastic squares, beautiful buildings, and interesting little alleys.
When I, however, finally arrived in the centre this afternoon, I was simply too depressed by the vulgarity of the areas I had been through to really appreciate the much more inspiring centre.

I checked in, showered, went out for lunch, did laundry, took a nap, and now I’m back out on the streets to explore the city. She really does deserve it – there are some exceptional sites in the old parts.

I’ll take some more photo’s tonight.

Tomorrow I walk to Hontanas – heading into the infamous Maseta (Spain’s dry, hot region) – which I should conquer by the 20th when I arrive in Leòn.
I already dread walking out of Burgos tomorrow morning, as I’m sure I’ll again have to walk through some bad residential developments and industrial zones on the outskirts of the city.

Many pilgrims who have limited time on the Camino end their pilgrimage in Burgos, as there is an airport here from where they can fly out. Others (many, in fact) take planes, trains or busses from here to Leòn, as they do not want to walk through the Maseta.
I actually look forward to the Maseta – the long hours spent in one’s own company, and the small villages I’ll stay over in.
There are only three major cities on the Camino (besides Santiago): Pamplona, Burgos, and Leòn. I understand I’ll be equally unimpressed walking both in and out of Leòn.
I have already walked well over 300km – there’s still a long way to go!

Though today wasn’t nearly as long as yesterday, I am very tired – it is interesting how your surroundings can influence your mindset. As depressing as I found it, though, I feel strong and fit – I really am so much fitter than when I arrived.

Last night, in a book I found in the albergue, I read the following:

“We all know people who speak in terms of their aches and pains, their complaints, and their stories of how they are the victim of this or that. On some level, this suffering works for them. There is a secondary benefit, even if they are not aware of it. They get attention.

The truth is, everyone wants to be seen, heard, and acknowledged. There’s nothing wrong with that. However, there is a better way.

Pain may be an inevitable part of life, but suffering is totally optional. Suffering is the story we tell ourselves and others about the pain.

The first step to stop suffering is to acknowledge the secondary benefit you receive from it. It is often subtle.
Who would you be without the victim story?
The real you is underneath it, waiting to emerge.”

I found this lesson very appropriate and applicable to my life currently.

Buen Camino!
Andries

Ps. Have you had your Vaseline today?

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