Today, early this morning, I should have been on a flight to Madrid. I should have done the usual dash from Terminal 1, up one floor, onto the transit bus to Terminal 4, to the bar/café downstairs where I could see the ALSA bus heading for Burgos arriving to pick me up.
I would have had the best seat in the bus, first row with a great view over the Spanish plains, and listened to music and probably caught up on some sleep on the way.
As we turned into Burgos a few window gazing hours later, I would no doubt sit up straight, fizzing with joy and excitement, spotting famous landmarks from the bus.
I’d have got out at the bus station, gone upstairs to my prebooked bunk in the big albergue, maybe changed or dug a jacket out of my pack and spread my down bag out on the bed to puff up nicely for bedtime, and then headed straight out into town.
First port of call, of course, would be a visit to Burgos’ grand old lady, glorious as ever, and I would no doubt order a nice glass of albariño to go with my static sightseeing and people watching.
Then off to Calle San Lorenzo, which is full of tapas bars, where I’d saunter leisurely down the street to see which place took my fancy and wondering if other pilgrims – who would be everywhere at this time of the year, excited, tired, happy, in small international groups – could tell I was one of them already, or at least from tomorrow morning onwards.
Maybe I’d strike up a conversation with some of them, and enjoy listening to their stories of trials and triumphs and the unexpected over a selection of tapas and a few drinks, until later – but probably not late – I’d start feeling the tiredness after a long day travelling and return to my (hopefully bottom bunk) bed to get some sleep before my first day of meseta walking.
Instead, I am at home, in lockdown UK, with sunshine in the garden and a new sunhat. I have the rest of May off, I have books to read and a fridge full of food and am happy and healthy and have camino time to slow down and relax. And I will still get my daily kilometres in, but on my exercise bike instead of walking.
Nobody knows when or how or even if the camino will welcome her pilgrims again, though I doubt it will be this year. Next year is a Holy Year, when the number of pilgrims normally increase, and with all the postponed and cancelled 2020 caminos, who knows if the infrastructure will still be there and able to cope. If you have cancelled or postponed your own walk, please have a look at this blog post from Sybille in Santiago and consider donating – the price of a bed, or a donativo stay with communal meal, or what you would have spent on a new pair of walking shoes – to help hospitaleros and pilgrim facilities survive financially until we walk again.
Buen virtual camino!