Camino Day 16

Alexandra was still very sick with her sinus infection and stayed in bed all day. She is on the correct meds so she just needs rest. Fortunately we could keep our room right across from the cathedral. I went and got her some food and helped an American get money out of the tricky ATM’s—I’m now an expert. I found a fellow pilgrim and we went to lunch in the Plaza Mayor.

Then it was time to get down to the job of the day—-a much more detailed visit of the cathedral. The day before we had stayed just a short time because Alexandra was sick and all the tombs upset her. She got that from me although I never told her about it.  As I’ve gotten older the tombs don’t bother me so much.


I looked at every chapel in great detail. The golden front alter is called a Retalbo. Every chapel has at least one, so many I lost count after awhile. I thought the carving of this tomb was so detailed. This painting if the angel Gabriel caught my fancy and was whimsical unlike the other heavy paintings of dark subjects.


After a couple of hours I found my little spot on earth in a corner of the cloisters that wasn’t restored. There the afternoon light shown through the green and yellow stained glass making a kaleidoscope on the worn floor and on me. I sat there for a long time in the peace and light leaning against the ancient wall. Pure bliss.

green and gold light in the cloisters

The sky today was so dark blue that it looked purple and the cathedral gleamed white in contrast. The simple Puritan in me does not understand this need for austentation. The art lover in me is amazed by the talent and dedication to create such a place. The pilgrim in me feels the inspiration in this great temple to God.

purple sky

There is a part of the cathedral that is only open in the evenings for Mass. I arrived in the chapel just as an English speaking Mass started. A group from Winnipeg was on a pilgrimage around Spain and Portugal with two priests giving Mass at all the great cathedrals. I knew the Gospel reading by memory—long ago forgotten in my childhood. I also knew the final hymn but with different words so I sang my familiar words. It was a joy to sing in such an awe inspiring place. Now my voice has been added to the stones, to reverberate for another thousand years.

english mass altar

I ate gelato in the cathedral square and then headed back to Alexandra. I missed walking today but I have plenty more walking days ahead. A pilgrimage is about the process not the destination. Set backs and struggle are part of the letting go and being with what is.

Blessed are you pilgrim if you discover that one step back to help another is more valuable than a hundred forward without seeing what is at your side.


Camino Day 15

After a quick breakfast of croissant and coffee we headed to the bus stop to catch a bus to Burgos. Several of our fellow pilgrims were also headed to Burgos. The hour bus ride passed two and a half days of walking. We would have rather walked but Alexandra has a sinus infection and needs to see a doctor.

gates of burgos

It took a bit to find a hotel but we were rewarded with a room with this amazing view of the Burgos Cathedral. After a rest we went for a visit.

cathedral from the hotel

A UNESCO World Heritage site, the Burgos cathedral is magnificently restored with a treasure everywhere you look. Chapel after chapel surround the central part of the cathedral. Each chapel elaborately decorated with gold, sculptures and priceless paintings.

burgos altar


It is overwhelming in scale, with soaring domes highlighted by more elaborate gold It would take days to see it all.

burgos altar and ceiling

We consulted several people on how to find a doctor. It took several tries and we went to the wrong place first but finally she was examined by a young Cuban doctor with family in Miami. He had just enough English to get by and we left with the prescriptions she needed to get better. Off to the farmacia to get four boxes of meds and some real tissues.

We hadn’t eaten much so we waited for a small grocery to open back up from siesta time and were rewarded with bananas and a small jar of peanut butter along with cheese and yogurt.

Alexandra went to bed and I went to enjoy Burgos. A bustling and beautiful city of around 200,000 with parks along the river, many cafés and fashionable shops in the shadow of this incredible cathedral. I sat on a bench and watched the evening light on the cathedral, amazed by this jewel that humans have imagined and then spent lifetimes crafting. Everyday I am living a thousand years.

burgos cathedral evening light