Saturday, May 22, 2010

Burgos - lost in (the) mace/ maize/ space..., take your pick

Unreal! What a day! I don´t know who I should be more frustrated with: those fabulous people marking the way in the most artistic freestyle manner or myself for carring a guidebook from 2007...?! But let´s start at the beginning: the night in San Juan de Otega was lovely, until at 6.10am an almighty noise broke loose, people yapping loudly, lights being switched on - what the frack?!! Can I just mention here again that those PINK earplugs from that one pharmacy in Parnell Street are just THE BUSINESS!! They don´t just stay in the ear (that´s a feat in itself!), they really shut out most of the awful noises one might hear when one sleeps with up to 119 people in one room. So, again, as most mornings, I turned around with an angry groan, pushed the earplugs deeper in my ears and did my very best in ignoring those rude racers around me. By the way, we had to be out at 8am, so what´s the bloody rush? When I woke up again around 7am - I was alone in the dorm. Everybody had vanished. Then the gregorian music started, nice :) That´s how they wake you here, I thought, at 7am with gregorian songs. Pity it was totally wasted on 95% of all the people who´d stayed that night. In the bathroom I met two slow coaches, one of whom I´d met before. She was ready to leave and lectured me again that I should get up earlier, leave early, blablabla..... I smiled and said that I would sit now outside for an hour, writing my diary and looking again at the equinox carving in the church until the little bar opened at 9am and I could have a lovely breakfast. With that the two women disappeared, shaking their heads. Guess I´m a lost cause now. And that´s what I did, so there. When I eventually took off the air was fesh (it´s pretty high up there), but the sun was bright blue and it promised to be another gorgeous day. On the way I met a couple of schoolclasses with small children, guess it was what we in Germany call "Wandertag", best translated as "Walking- or Hiking day". I wear a pretty big hat with a broad rim ( think I mentioned this marvellous hat before, brilliant in rain and now it´s proving just as brilliant as a protection from the sun, good buy in the sale basement of the "Great Outdoors" for 15 Euro!) and that very long walking stick. Therefore I look quite a bit as one might imagine a pilgrim to look like, as they are depicted in the carving of the churches, or the cartoons.... Well, the children started shouting "Buen Camino!" and then we had question and answer sessions with them and their teachers. When they heard I lived in Dublin they did their best to wish me "Good Bye" and I marched on quite uplifted by this little encounter and the knowledge that I wouldn´t have met them if I´d left before 7am, ha! I arrived in Atapuerca, and for those who are not familiar with that name (as, for example, me), this is the cradle of european humanity! Here in those soft hills were, just by accident, the remains of a new human species discovered, older than 800,000 years, which makes them older than the Homo Heidelbergensis (who is the pre-neanderthal man) and "only 300,000 years old. Thus this new species was called Homo Antecessor and the area is now a World UNESCO site since 2000 where intensive research is taking place. Yes, you´ll learn something here! I was really looking forward to visiting the caves where the first finds were made, but didn´t count on the spanish relaxed attitude to... tourism in this instant. There is only one tour per day to the caves, at 11am - and it was noon now. Yeeeees, if I´d started earlier......! So I just looked at the exhibition at the visitor centre and walked away 100% more informed than before. Those antecessors were cannibals at times!! Grim, grim...... The countryside presented itself very stoney, white big stones on steep hills with just a few crippled trees here and there, sheep with bells, a cold wind and a blazing sun. And then it happened: two arrows. Should I´ve not mentioned it before, we all follow yellow arrows (and a few shells, yellow mostly). Yellow arrows on trees, on roads, on stones, on house walls, poles, wherever you can imagine. And here, in the middle of nowhere, two of them. In different directions. I decided on the right one. My guide book didn´t mention two different choices, so I suspected foul play, just like the jokers in Ireland who have great fun turning sign posts into the wrong directions. Next crossroad: two arrows again. One painted over white. On the other side another one painted over, but scribbled on again. I made my choice and walked. This scenario repeated itself a couple of times until I stood at a Y-junction wit no indication where to go anymore. Again, I made my choice, quite pissed off it had to be said, and from tha point I wandered up and down hills, from path to path to path. Nothing but rolling hills and green corn fields waving in the wind - and me, the idiot. The lost idiot. Would you think there was ONE farmer to be seen anywhere? Or another pilgrim? Course not. At some stage I just looked at the sun and decided by where it stood that Burgos had to be THAT direction and walked up another hills on tractor tracks. I´d read in a book that there are people asking the universe loudly for things - and get them. So, since there was nothing to loose here, my feet etc. was hurting badly and I was way, way past the time when I should´ve reached the hostel, I shouted very loudly and very angry at the universe that I wanted NOW, bloody ASAP a fracking yellow arrow, or something bloody else which would tell me definitely where I was!! At the end of my screaming at the skies I walked over the top of that hill - and there was a village. I couldn´t believe it, it had worked, and there was a yellow arrow. Of course, that village was kilometres past the albergue I had aimed for, and between here and Burgos were about 14km! Suddenly two spanish guys appeared out of nowhere, one looked like ´Jesus´from the Big Lebowsky, the other could´ve been a barman in an italo-western. They told me I could possibly get a hotel in Villafria and I started trotting behind those two, with a good distance between them. When the stupid place came eventually after almost an hour into view, I jumped for joy: it had a camping place! But since the signs for it where nowhere to be seen, I asked a couple of people. The answers came quick and without mercy: "Camping non funciona." Yea, great. As I listlessly meandered past some trucker hotels the two guys from before jumped out of a bar and asked me to join them in taking the bus into Burgos. They´d been walking more than 30km that day, were utterly wasted and also just wanted to arrive somewhere. The 8km ahead of us are all along industrial areas along a main road of heavy traffic and a total backbreaker. Since it was 6pm already and 8km take me almost 3hours, and everything hurt, I decided to join them. AND I didn´t regret it. I hadn´t planned on ever taking a bus, but I´d already walked way more than I wanted today, and when the bus zipped through soulless, dusty, gritty outskirts I thanked my lucky stars - and the two guys, who incidentally also paid for my busfare :) They weren´t going to stay a the main albergue but walked with me to it because they wanted to make sure I arrived there safe. Wasn´t that lovely! My two beardy angels! The albergue is just beside the cathedral, the beds are pure luxury ( so is everything else, the shower, the toilet etc.) and secluded little private things, and I got a bed in a big dorm with only 6 other people. And the dorm was called: SANTIAGO - for today I had arrived! :)


  1. Liebe Aenne, ich wünsche Dir weiterhin immer einen oder mehrere Schutzengel! In Liebe Mama

  2. Liebe Aenne, verfolge begeistert Deine Berichte - SUPER!! Weiterhin alles, alles Gute.Herzliche Grüße aus dem Norden Deutschlands, Kalaudia