Meseta Miasma
Oct08

Meseta Miasma

They are wearing chiffon sheer gossamer white habits. I notice this as they unlace and release my imprisoned feet. As they undress my feet and replace the toxic garments with holy aromatic potions, the nuns slowly massage my wretched stumps. I am entranced by their come to my altar eyes. Hours of bliss. Then Edwina tells me they are monks and we passed them a while back. The whole edifice crumbles. Still it was good whilst it lasted, and there isn't much else no do crossing the Meseta. Most pilgrims agree that a different mindset is now required. Once the feet have been trained to walk a few paces in a very straight direction then not a lot extra skill is required. The boots can be pretty well left to their own devices, although we did come accross a slight five degree bend this afternoon, a good job the nuns were not too engrossing. Dreaming and listening to Adam's spotify play list with its absorbing beat are the accompaniment to the endless Meseta. I have to say that it really is not boring. I think it is beautiful. It lacks dramatic features but has subtlety. As for the human built environment, it is a little different. Villages are stretched out further and measured in populations of less than 200. Even these lowly figures seem a little exaggerated. We haven't seen a child for two days, which for Spain is remarkable. The villages are not well kept and one of the main architectural features appears to be rubble, lots of it. Having said that, tonight's stop is clearly a superior village. Despite the best efforts of the only hotel who were not helpful inxxxx, I managed to scout out a dormitory in a very peaceful Albergue, complete with wifi, garden, showers and a good bar. The young element of our posse lingered earlier in the day and have only just arrived as we oldies are drinking our first beers. Well showered, clothes washed and wifi code acquired. Usual routine. Finally a slightly different taste sensation for the standard ten euro pilgrim's menu. The pollo was still on the bone unlike all previous occasions where the bones had been removed and the meat flattened by a huge hammer in the Spanish chicken bashing factory. Herbs and spices had also been added, but alas no greenery. The waitress was clearly delighted by the enthusiastic responses these new tastes elicited from the assembled pilgrims. This morning started with a cold thick fog which only lifted after our customary 7km walk and then breakfast. Our morning couple time (we like to start the day...

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The Meseta
Oct05

The Meseta

Hey guys we are on the famous Meseta. Lots of pilgrims head for the bus at this point. Hot, flat, boring endless are adjectives that immediately spring to mind. I must admit that we have thought about giving this section a miss. Even this morning in the very slight gloaming, all felt normal. Sweet old convented village, clear skies and small surrounding hills. Climbing gently in welcome silence, away from roads, rail and pylons we came upon the Mesata. Not a dramatic revelation more a walk up the fairway after a good drive. Pale limestone colours amazing vastness without being flat, but no skylarks. They really should be there, but Spanish farmers are inclined to disagree. This is a big country. It came as a shock to see a car speeding over a field in the near distance. Of course it was a road, but so out of place. It is not flat, there are hills, mini, giving the impression of a fully mature landscape but our route is straight and flat. It is not unlike the sea. Indeed our behaviour has become rather seaman like. Faced with large distances and occasional spartan ports we have become a convoy. All the people from last night met for breakfast at the first village and stopped at the second for overnight shelter, all be it at 1 in the afternoon. It is really difficult to imagine anything going on in this one sheep town but there is a sort of lively safety in numbers going on here. Another convoy that set off from Burgos arrived later this afternoon, so the Meseta port feels quite busy now. Our convoy is looking industrious at present. Ellen is listening to Michel and perfecting her Spanish. Birte is drawing peoples faces and looking Germanically serious. Edwina is trying to clean her camera in a Mr Bean fashion and I am slightly drunkenly listening to Philip an even more drunken German Honk Kong pilgrim making merry with a bottle of Rioja....

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Goodby Burgos
Oct05

Goodby Burgos

Been a bit busy for the last few days. Main news is that Ellen had a muscle injury to her leg. We limped into a small place called Bellorado, after a day of showers. Foolish me dived into the first Albergue, a mistake. It was attached to a church and run by Swiss volunteers but was a bit basic, cramped, a bit dirty and distinctly lacking in toilets. Even though it was free, we wouldn't have been in a hurry to stay. Never mind we slept reasonably, met yet more Irish pilgrim tourists out for a good time. In the end Ellen and Birte our German young female friend decided to bus it into Burgos two days walk away. After my favourite coffee con leche, freshly squeezed oranje juice and a pan chocolate, I decided to walk it. After a couple of wrong turns I found the camino again and off I went, like a train. I finally managed the first day's distance after 6 hours and had a tuna pasty (empanadas). I realised I had caught up with the French fit brigade who had set off an hour earlier. All female, all independent and all female over 60. What is it with French women walkers. All four were on their second thousand kilometers, all small and a little dumpy. Antoine who I manage to chat to en francais thanks to Sophie, was typical. She was 64, set off over a month ago, walks 30 – 40 km a day, and walks bloody fast. We walked for 9 km together into the second days milage, but could I shake her. I really went my fastest for a while after she had the cheek to take a photo. Less than a minute later she was back up with me, fully caped cruising by. I give up. What is a full blooded Englishman to do. We finally said goodby after 34km on the road. I went on!!! What the hell, I can make Burgos. I warn Ellen, and off I go. Only to be met by a large limestone ridge and pissing rain. Have a surreal conversation in the rain with an older American couple about Doc Martin, say goodbye and make the final push to Burgos. It is of course a big city, with all the outer big city stuff. First posh executive village, then over motorway where I was greeted by an Eddie Stobart lorry, circumnavigated an endless airport perimeter and finally a railway shunting yard. Eventually I reach a massive out of town roundabout with a road that led straight and endless into the distance. I had convinced...

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1 October, 2013 22:27

http://hugopinto.cv.org.ar/octstart.php All bread is not baked in one oven.

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La Rioja
Sep30

La Rioja

Travelling through Navarre, one of the basque regions, it would have been easy to mistake it for Tuscany or Provence, rolling gentle countryside punctuated with tall cypress and beautiful villages. No evidence of poverty or hint at the overall Spanish predicament. Since entering Rioja, the land of the vine things have changed. Logroño had a dusty depressed feel with attendant deprivation. Even the grand river Ebro (Spain's largest) could only muster a slight flow despite being full. Saturday night was a usual Spanish release of colour and display. Everybody out in their finest especially after the early Americans had gone to bed. Logroño also saw the first concrete example of EU folly. In the faded old quarter sat a great newly minted building. It was a great piece of architecture matching the old building with avant grade urban new. Inside was a great looking exhibition space housing the Rioja wine museum, except it didn't, it was entirely empty and dusty. A very old man told us it was finished two years ago and had laid empty since. A plaque with the EU starry rosary had a Euro number with an improbably large number of zeroes after it. What folly. The villages have become noticeably scruffy and unkempt, with a weary poverty in the air. The people are less friendly and less sure. We did spend a lovely time in a little village called Ventosa, hosted by a Dutch woman in an Albergue. We both manged to grab bottom bunks, luxury. She had a somewhat stern demeanor but I suspect she had a heart of gold. There was no doubting her Catholicism, judging by the volume of holy objects. She was organised, 2 washing machines, a dryer, a small shop selling vegetables and a well equipped kitchen to cook them in. All life's essentials. The village was verging on the desolate, even the new buildings. She was helping people out from 1pm until 10pm with lights out, very impressive. The last couple of days have been cooler with a few drops of rain. We managed 34km yesterday. This is a feat for us, especially after getting lost which cost us 2km extra. Everybody still gets up pretty early, so we found ourselves packed and ready to go at 7.30am, in the cool dark. There was a smudge on the Eastern horizon that promised dawn but was no help in navigation. After 30 minutes we managed to convince ourselves that we should be much closer to the motorway a kilometer over to our right over the silent vineyards. We deviated. A mistake. We followed several small vineyard trackers, a steep bank,...

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