. . . after a noisy and enjoyable salad with bread and Rioja at the bar, a peaceful albergue, alone, an early awakening to write, some corn bread from Granon with the honey I carry as a staple . . . set off for the city before 6am . . . the moon coming and going, the eastern horizon still dark . . . this morning the rosy glow is in the west - the lights of Burgos . . . wandering the back road, passing an early couple walking their dog . . . hear one say, it's a pilgrim . . . as they pass in the dark, both call out Buen Camino . . . I feel like a pilgrim . . . then the writer returns . . . creating the narrative to share with you . . . road goes over the motorway . . . swings right to avoid a military base . . . half circles it with no yellow arrows or other camino signs . . . though it is dark . . . at the roundabout before Villafria, a big sign finally confirms the route is right . . . at 6.50 a bar . . . uno solo por favor . . . somehow he spots I am not Spanish . . . Americano o Expresso . . . the small one, mainline caffeine, one swallow and you're buzzing . . . how far to Burgos . . . 7 . . . is it a big city . . . no, small . . . must come from Madrid, if the suburbs start here, Burgos is 7 and the centre 10, that's plenty big for me . . .
. . . long straight road, still dark and it starts to rain . . . a snow plough passes . . . a sign helpfully flashes: 7.43, 3 degrees . . .
Bridgestone Tyre factory begins and goes on for a long time . . . wonder why it doesn't smell . . .
. . . into Burgos (the s is silent) . . . the road crossings have sensors, set off flashing lights, green infographic for me, orange or red for them . . . countdown display . . . sound for visually impaired . . . digital bird twitter . . . wonder if it confuses the birds . . . if they imitate it, confusing the blind . . . in the centre, needing a pee, a row of sculpted trees . . . is it ok to be discreet there . . . one appears with a doorway cut out, like a pissoir . . . thanks . . . at the city gate a cheery pilgrim greets me . . . takes a photo . . . Luis, Italian, has done St Jean Pied de Port to here, going back to Rome, returning in June for part two . . . walking home? . . . he laughs . . . plenty do that walk . . . Cathedral spectacular . . . signs steer tourists another way . . . my pilgrim returns, obviously not a tourist, albeit not devout . . . impressive, if a little over ornate for my simple taste . . .
. . . as for the city itself, I recall 40 odd years ago (and some have been odder than others) . . . my first visit to Spain . . . looking and feeling quite backward . . . Guardia Civil with machine guns on every corner . . . now it seems more sophisticated than Britain . . .
. . . it's 8.30, an hour before tourist info opens . . . time to write . . . an expensive coffee, no wifi . . . is it camino infrastructure funded out there . . . every other small bar in the villages seems to have it . . .
. . . great service in excellent English from Ruben . . . possibilities in three villages . . . 10, 20 or 30 . . . points me back to cathedral to pick up camino . . . reminds me of three day holiday, lots closed . . . considering bread, just in case . . . round a corner, the bread shop . . . thanks . . . Maria-Manuela finds some pan integral, slightly better than the usual baguette . . . I spot little cream filled doughnuts . . . for the road . . . three different kinds . . . three of each then, and a bar of chocolate . . . cheese? yes, here . . . processed slices . . . no thanks . . . into my stride until Rabe de La Calzadas, the 10 km mark . . . La Fuente bar for lunch . . . friendly Jose-Maria . . . bread, good cheese, pickles . . . has had 8,000 pilgrims through this year and given every one a little image of the local patron saint . . . tie mine to rucksack . . . May and September main months . . . on to Hornillos del Camino, the 20 km mark by 2.45 and have the legs for another 10 . . . municipal albergue beside the church calls . . . Francisco is there . . . host, Juanma, another pilgrim volunteer . . . studied all the religions . . . says the camino is pure Tao . . . a German, Reiner arrives, permanent pilgrim, sometime host, radical Christian . . . living free for the past seven years . . . he's going the other way . . . left Santiago fifteen days ago . . . 30 or so each day will do it . . . though not rushed nor attached to arriving at Santiago at all . . .
. . . Reiner speaks good English, Spanish not much better than me . . . Juanma and Francisco's English about as good as our Spanish . . . Reiner and I talk . . . he has a lot to say . . . not so much to learn . . . I listen . . . his view is that the Catholic Church lost the plot a few centuries after Jesus . . . quotes Bible sources to illustrate . . . he says he may not really be Christian . . . God and Jesus are his reference point . . . I start on my issue with the words . . . once we identify with them, separation begins . . . so many Christians brought up in the faith block it all because of their experiences . . . suggest Universe . . . Reiner slams the door: if you cannot give God his name, he can't know you and you can't know him . . . you have not found the truth, you are still seeking . . . at one time I might have knocked on the door or kicked it open . . . this feels like an opportunity to practice patience . . . I whisper through the keyhole, yes, still seeking . . .
. . . we eat, leave the theology, philosophy . . . Reiner primed the pump by offering chocolate earlier . . . now he has pasta from his pack . . . Juanma has made garlic soup, but with meat stock . . . I have bread, he has a tin of lentils with vegetables . . . buy a bottle of Rioja to share . . . chocolate . . . Juanma brings real bread, difficult to find here . . . I cut some pieces off the strong cheese I brought from La Fuenta . . .and so to bed . . . the story continues tomorrow . . .