CF21 Day 1 – Pilgrims at their best (but no kilt)

Sorry about the delay, but this camino decided to start with a bit of drama. The rain that was forecast seemed to arrive with thunder and lightning in the middle of the night, so I put on my poncho mainly against the wind and set off from Burgos (reluctantly). The first thing I saw and heard as I hauled myself up the steps, was a young peregrina speaking to her walking buddy as they went down to see the golden wings that are set out in front of the side door of the cathedral. It reminded me of walking with my young peregrina friend many years ago; a good memory to start a new adventure.

I then tried to find my way out of Burgos from memory, which didn’t go very well, though I did end up in the right place eventually and could join the steady trickle of pilgrims towards Hornillos, where I had booked a twin room ages ago, to avoid the rush and race (and the municipal, frankly).

In front of me were one small and fast pilgrim with an easily spottable bright red cap, gradually overtaking everyone in front of them, one with a grey pack cover who seemed to be walking at my pace and one who just overtook me but was polite about it and said Buen Camino before he left me in the dust. All was well on the camino.

Until Red Cap Man disappeared behind a parked car, and didn’t reappear. Polite Fast Man seemed to help him up and spoke to him, and off Red Cap went again. They both went under the bridge, and a short time later I followed – only to find Red Cap had veered head first into the ditch and Polite Man was helping him up. Polite Man asked if my Spanish was any good, which it is if you want a bed or a beer, but not for a lot else. He said he thought Red Cap needed an ambulance, since he had had two bad falls in a short space of time and was bleeding from both cheeks. He also sounded like he was speaking incoherently and repeating himself a lot. I agreed with the ambulance, but Red Cap was adamant he wanted to carry on to Tardajos, which was by this time only a km or so away. So we walked with him, tried to talk to him, get him to sit down, drink water etc, but he just kept going. Just outside town we sat him down on a bench and I kept watch while Polite Man went to the nearest house to ask them to help him explain the situation to the emergency services. Red Cap himself took the phone at one point and told them he suffered from chronic cardiac something which didn’t sound good! He still wanted to move on though, as this was his 22. camino… Yes, twenty second!

While we were waiting for the ambulance, the girl from the cathedral steps in Burgos came and joined us, as she also spoke good Spanish and had studied medicine. Apparently it took over an hour, but after Red Cap had been assessed and we had told the paramedics what little we knew, we bid the old pilgrim gentleman farewell and buen camino. I hope he was alright, at least he was in the very best of hands.

After he left, the three of us had a light lunch and a refreshing clara together before we walked on to Hornillos. Polite Man politely went ahead and the girl, who was also called Linda, and I sauntered along chatting. On the way we were excited to see a man in a kilt in front of us, but as we got nearer, it turned out it was just a pair of shorts with a long sleeve top tied over it. Very disappointing. We told him so, and it turned into a fun conversation that helped us past the flat boring bits.

Young Linda (I guess that made me Old Linda?) had reserved a bed in the municipal in Hornillos, but when she got there, they had given it to someone else when she hadn’t confirmed and arrived after two o’clock. If you are walking now or in the near future, be aware that you might need to call and confirm on the day – though they might not tell you so!

As it was, Hornillos was full, but luckily I had a twin room and therefore a spare bed. So it all worked out in the end! My hospitalero had no problem with it, though she had to pay the extra few euros for double occupancy rather than single. After showers young Linda invited me to dinner to say thank you, and David and Polite Man also joined us. Quite the full day and a lovely camino evening in good company; I felt instantly right back where I had left off – with the best of the camino.

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