Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Pilgrimage Day 14: Atapuerca - Rabé de las Calzadas

Day 14 of my pilgrimage begins with fog and light rain. Long stretches of loneliness. Todays journey will be nearly 35 kilometers and I will walk through the great city of Burgos. The first part of the road goes up slightly and then down again. Nothing more to than that. It is pleasant to walk here. But lonely. I'm starting to feel something new on this trip; loneliness. I meet very people along these roads. The landscape does something with me and brings out a slightly uncomfortable feeling. Maybe I'm getting psychologically and emotionally tired? Or is it part of the pilgrimage process, as the priest said in Viana, that this was primarily a journey inward, not outward.

I walk through small villages that seem deserted: Cardeñulea, Orbaneja and Villafría. Then I notice that I'm approaching the city of Burgos. It's a busy asphalt road, lots of traffic and industry. This was a very big change. I recognize the city's street life and feel that this is not very fascinating. Then I come to the famous Burgos Cathedral. God almighty what a building! It is impossible to get the whole cathedral in one picture. It's really huge. I do not think there's anything like this in the whole world.  A Gothic construction which started being built in 1221 and  was completed sometimes in the 1300's. Infinitely many towers extends upward. It is so fascinating and big, that I doubt if such a  building could be built today. It would cost too much. This is so breathtaking that I get a little nauseous. I have not a single religious thought in my little head here. I see only the result of human madness. I go into the cathedral a little bit, but turn around relatively fast. I want to escape. I want to return to the simple pilgrim road and get out of Burgos. I'm sorry dear Spain, but Burgos was not for me. Not even the cathedral.

Many people take the bus from Burgos in get over the large spanish plateau which waiting in front of me. The loneliness I have felt a little before I came to Burgos is said to be even more prominent in the landscape to come. The first part of the road after Burgos is beautiful. I walk first to Villalbilla and then to Tardajos. I go over the river Ubierna. Beautiful and green. But the landscape changes as I enter the highlands of Spain. This is powerful stuff. I can feel a force in the landscape that does something with me. I can not get a word that can describe this power.

The best word I can find is silence. Silence reigns here in the highlands. How will I withstand this silence? There is almost no pilgrims here. I feel loneliness and silence. I walk for three hours with this silence around me before I come to Rabe de las Calzadas, which means the place where two Roman roads meet. Here I take in at Refugium Santa Marina y Santiago. The price at the hostel is 12 euros for one night. That was expensive. A simple bathroom and no kitichen. One bed for one night. The place is privately run and there is one bedroom here for 6 guests. We are only four persons here tonight, and it turns out that the other three are from my neighboring town in Norway, Larvik. They say that they are walking the same way as I am, but use four years on the same 800 kilometers. They are friends who use one week every year together to walk this route. This is the third year on their pilgrimage. We have a lot to talk about, we visit the local church and eat a simple dinner together. Quite exhausted, we go to bed early in order to be rested for a new pilgrimage day in the morning. A lonely and silent road awaits us.


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