Days 10 - 13
July 5 - 8

   On July 5th I walked into Burgos, a large city on the Camino.  I had walked 37km that day, the longest walk up to that time.  I was dead on my feet, but actually arrived about mid-afternoon.  The problem with walking into a city is that it becomes slow going.  There are many turns along the streets, have to dodge around people, wait for traffic lights.  Plus, there are many turns and the arrows that point the way are sometimes hard to find in the crowds.  There's too much to see in a city, it's easy to miss a small yellow arrow.  I stopped at a pharmacy to get tape for my feet, and asked how far it was to the albergue.  She said 4 km.  After I walked what felt like 4 km I still wasn't there.  I finally asked a policeman where the albergue was.  He said there was two, I asked for the nearest one.  He told me, in Spanish.  I was lost after the first couple of turns he described.  He got a map and drew and X on it.  I didn't feel like walking, and since the albergue was off the trail I thought it would be okay to take a taxi.  I was taken into a residential area.  To my surprise, there was an albergue there, but it was a house.
    I walked up to the gate and was greeted by one young man to whom I said, "Hola."  He asked if I spoke English and I said, "A little, I'm from Alabama."  
    The albergue was run by a middle aged French lady.  I later learned she had taken religious orders, though was not a nun.  She had given up all she had in life to run this albergue, and lived off the donations.  She didn't even charge like most did.  She started asking me questions in Spanish and I tried to answer.  Later I realized she spoke English as well.  I met two Canadians, A and D.  I talked to A for a while.  He told me that at this albergue they had a prayer service after dinner, which was right then.  I really wanted a shower, but I was interested in this.  A told me this was a Christian albergue.  And a prayer meeting sounded like something Protestants did.  I couldn't figure out where I was, and didn't want to ask.  I finally did and found it was a Catholic run albergue.  I went to the prayer service.  I remember thinking afterwords that nobody had better tell me again that Catholics aren't really Christians.  That idea was reinforced later.  I had just missed dinner, but she fixed me a salad and bread.  She was very surprised I didn't drink my milk warm.  The next morning we all had breakfast together.  The lady gave me the job of sweeping the stairs; the first time I had to work for my breakfast!  Before I left she kissed me on both cheeks.  Days like this put the whole trip in perspective.
    I've been reading a lot by Thomas Merton, a 20th Century Carmalite monk.  This is a Carmalite convent.  That's pretty much why I took the picure.
    The spiky looking Cathedral of Burgos.
    I exited Burgos into hilly fields.  That was a very, very windy day.  Probably the most boring, too, as all the trail just ran through identical grain fields.  There was no where to stop for a rest, so I finally just collapsed down by a trail marker to block the wind.  I felt as good as I looked.
     The ruins of a medieval convent.  There was a small albergue inside.
    From the inside of the ruins of the convent.
    The village of Itero del Castillo.  Up on the hill were the ruins of an old castle.  It was possible to get up there, but at this point I wasn't going anywhere that didn't get me closer to a stopping place.  The church was still in use.
     Shameless self promotion.  Somewhere around this point I met A again.  We had a long talk about the sacraments of the Catholic church, and other things.  I learned a lot I didn't know. 
     The sign in the back says:

     Santiago  475.  Getting closer.


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