TREKKING — DAY 12

Southeast of Ages to Burgos — 14 Ugly Miles

I had no idea where we were, nor did I have any idea how to get back on the Camino.  Yesterday, the hotel driver took us to a hotel in the middle of nowhere with nothing around it except Highway N 120.

Now that it was early morning I knew I couldn’t leave before it was light out if I didn’t know where I was going.  I was ready to go, with backpack on by 6 a.m.  They were just turning the lights on in the hotel dining room when Dick convinced me to go in and have a cup of Cafe con Leche.  By the time we finished maybe it would be  a little lighter outside.  When I asked the bartender for directions to the Camino he told me I could go right outside the door and follow highway N 120 all the way to Burgos or I could go back to the village of Ages and go the traditional Camino route. It was 2.5 kilometers back to Ages and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go that route.

When we walked out the door of the hotel a chilling wind hit me in the face and I knew I had to go back inside and put my wind breaker on over my fleece jacket.  It was 40 degrees.  Looks like I’m pregnant but that’s my fleece jacket wadded up under the wind breaker.

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Once outside we saw a man who Dick had met previously and he told us he was waiting for a driver to take him and another man back to Ages so that they could be on the Camino trail with all the other trekkers.  I asked if maybe I could get a ride with them and when he asked, the driver said, “No, there’s not enough room.”  So I guess the decision was made for me.  I would walk beside the N 120 all the way to Burgos.  People had said this was an alternate Camino route but I had my doubts until I saw the Camino markers at the beginning of the path.  By then, I could see without a light so I said goodbye to Dick and off I went.

Several people said this way would be ugly and they were absolutely right.

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Walking alongside the highway and seeing frequent Camino markers like this one reassured me that I was at least headed in the right direction.  The bad part was, except for cars and trucks,  there wasn’t another soul around.  Not one other person on the Camino trail for the next nine miles.  And then I saw them.  Two trekkers who had rounded a corner and were walking in front of me.   I hadn’t yet taken a rest of any kind and I was exhausted but I couldn’t stop now.  I wasn’t going to let these guys out of my sight.

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I followed them for another mile or so and suddenly they turned off.  I decided not to follow them, thinking they might be going into one of the businesses off the road.  Bad idea.  Now I was lost.  There were no more Camino markers and I was in an ugly industrial area.  I ended up asking 3 different groups of people and they all pointed me in one direction or another.  I was on some trashy alley in the outskirts of Burgos.

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But the one thing everyone I asked had in agreement was that when I got to the river I was to turn right.  Well, where was that dang river?  I walked and walked and still couldn’t find the river so I stopped 3 men who were walking a dog and asked them.  They were so nice that they actually walked me to the river and pointed me in the right direction.

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As I walked along one side of the river I could actually see the trekkers I had been following.  They were walking the same way I was, but on the other side of the river.  Why didn’t I just follow them in the first place?

After walking 13 miles I had to take a break and sit down.  I had really overdone it today.  There was a shooting pain going into the top of my left foot and it was difficult to walk at times.  There were no benches so I sat on a stone wall and rested for about 5 minutes.

After I started walking again (which was very painful) I saw a Canadian woman who I had walked with yesterday.  She was turning right into the city so I decided to walk with her.  She was going to stay in Burgos for a few hours and then continue walking another 10 kilometers later in the afternoon.  Yesterday, while we were walking,  I had told her stories of all the people Dick had met who had quit the camino — especially the ones with blisters.  When I asked her if she had any blisters she looked at me and said, “Of course.”  The way she said it was like — well everyone has blisters, don’t they?  I thought that was odd because I certainly didn’t have any but I didn’t tell her that.  After she looked at her map and we got our bearings in the city, we parted ways.  As for me, I was cold.  It had never warmed up, the wind had never stopped blowing and I just wanted to get to a nice warm hotel room.  I walked around in circles until I finally found our hotel.  Then I hobbled up the stairs to our room.

And now, the biggest thing I had been dreading on this whole Camino walk happened.  I got to the room, pulled off my socks and shoes, examined my feet and there it was!  A blister on a callous on the bottom of my foot!  And I had been wearing my double layer, wool, guaranteed no blister socks.  How did that happen?  And to make matters worse, that wasn’t even the part of my foot that hurt.

Dick arrived about 20 minutes after I got to the room.  He said this morning he had stood at the side of Highway N 120 and waited for an hour for a bus to pass by.  He was waiting with 6 other trekkers and they had to flag down the bus in order for it to stop in the middle of the highway.  There were about 45 to 50 other trekkers on the bus and about 15 people who were not trekkers.  They all got off the bus here in Burgos.  Really!  I wished I could have talked to each of them to find out what their story was.

Dick had gotten a text from Liza and her father, David, the orthopedic surgeon, saying they would be in Burgos later in the afternoon.  They wanted to know if we all wanted to have dinner together and we gladly accepted their invitation.  We had enjoyed being with them so much before.

Walking was becoming more difficult and painful as we left the hotel to join them.  David said he noticed I was limping.  Right out on the street he examined my foot and talked about what could be causing the pain.  We had a lovely dinner at a nearby restaurant with Liza, David and Jo from Australia, who was also trekking the Camino.

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After dinner David examined my foot again and his diagnosis was that I had a stress fracture.  And I thought the worst thing that could happen to me on the Camino was blisters…