Day 16: San Nicolas Real Camino to El Burgo Ranero

A head of broccoli spoke to me today. Ok, not literally, but that head of broccoli chose my path for me. Here’s how…

There are four critical elements to staying healthy on the Camino: sleep, food, water and taking care of your feet.

I got an amazing night’s sleep last night thanks to my guidebook, which suggested a stay in San Nicolas Real Camino, where few pilgrims stop and therefore you can often get a whole dorm room to yourself in the albergue. So I stopped, and as predicted, I had my own room.

Water isn’t so much of an issue right now because it is so freaking cold. I actually have to work hard to drink an entire liter during the day, but still it’s important.

My feet are doing well. The blisters are healing and although my dogs are always barking (or at least whimpering) at the end of the day, they always get me where I need to go.

I have not been doing so well when it comes to food. Of course, I eat. I love to eat, and I love good food. But for the last two weeks, my meals have generally revolved around eggs, bread and cheese. I pick up fruit when I can, but it is heavy to carry and you can’t always buy any when you arrive at your destination. Vegetables are hit or miss. They definitely aren’t a staple in restaurants (even salads tend to consist mainly of iceberg lettuce), and the selection in the tiendas leaves a lot to be desired. And unless there is a kitchen in your albergue, there isn’t much you can do with them.

So when I saw that head of broccoli in the supermarket this morning, I knew I had to have it. I also knew this meant I would have to forgo my intended route, a scenic alternative to the main Camino that follows the longest remaining stretch of Roman road in Spain, because the albergues available along that route don’t have kitchens.

Plans be damned, I bought the broccoli (and some carrots to boot) without regard for the fact this meant an extra 1.5 pounds on my back over the next 10 miles.

Most of my walk today was on a dirt path paralleling a quiet road. It wasn’t particularly scenic (except for a little lake and its bird blind) and, yet again, it was rainy and windy for much of the day. But it gave me time to think about a conversation that I shared with Jeff this morning about our experiences with the musical nuns two nights before. Like me, he felt incredibly moved by our time with the nuns and had read my recounting of it on the blog.

Jeff was raised Catholic and currently attends a Lutheran church, so he falls somewhere towards the other end of the religious spectrum from me. Yet, at some point in our conversation he said, “I believe there are as many paths to god as there are people on this planet.” As I walked this afternoon, I kept thinking about what he said. It really resonated with me, but I was unsure exactly why.

As I thought more about it, I realized that what he said parallels my belief that every single person has the potential to make an impact, either positive or negative, in this world. If each person were to make choices based on the effects on others and this planet, to embody the divine in our lives, whatever that might mean to you, this world would be a far more just, compassionate, and beautiful place. The path to living such a right life would certainly be different for each of us, but the result would be transformational.

Today I walked 16.25 miles.

4 thoughts on “Day 16: San Nicolas Real Camino to El Burgo Ranero

  1. Miguel de Unamuno was a philosopher belonging to the Spanish generation of 1898. He was a professor of Greek at the University of Salamanca. I love these writers because they taught the world as was the soul of my country, Castilla. They rediscovered the essence of this glorious land in the Middle Ages , which declined in the following centuries. Claudio Sanchez Albornoz, an historician said: ” Castilla made Spain and Spain unmade Castilla “. Rough, cold, windy land, you know, that makes people look to themselves against the infinitude of the horizon. Unamuno wrote a short novel “San Manuel Bueno martir” (Saint Emmanuel the good and martyr). Don Manuel (Mister Emmanuel) is a priest in a small town of Castilla, and in He is a priest in a small town in Castile, and at the end of his life loses faith in God , and he says Lazaro (Lazarus) , another character in the novel:

    “¿La verdad? La verdad, Lázaro, es acaso algo terrible, algo intolerable, algo mortal; la gente sencilla no podría vivir con ella». «¿Y por qué me la deja entrever ahora aquí, como en confesión?», le dije. Y él: «Porque si no, me atormentaría tanto, tanto, que acabaría gritándola en medio de la plaza, y eso jamás, jamás, jamás. Yo estoy para hacer vivir a las almas de mis feligreses, para hacerles felices, para hacerles que se sueñen inmortales y no para matarles. Lo que aquí hace falta es que vivan sanamente, que vivan en unanimidad de sentido, y con la verdad, con mi verdad, no vivirían. Que vivan. Y esto hace la Iglesia, hacerles vivir. ¿Religión verdadera? Todas las religiones son verdaderas en cuanto hacen vivir espiritualmente a los pueblos que las profesan, en cuanto les consuelan de haber tenido que nacer para morir, y para cada pueblo la religión más verdadera es la suya, la que le ha hecho. ¿Y la mía? La mía es consolarme en consolar a los demás, aunque el consuelo que les doy no sea el mío.”


    “The truth? The truth, Lazarus, is it something terrible, something intolerable, something mortal; Simple people could not live with it. ” “Why me now suggests here, as in confession?” I asked him. And he replied to me: “Because if not, haunt me so much, you end up yelling it in the middle of the square, and that never, never, never. I am to live in the souls of my parishioners, to make them happy, to make that dream immortal and not to kill them. What is needed here is to live healthily, living in unanimity of sense, and the truth, my truth, not live. They live. And this makes the Church, let them live. ARE THEY A TRUE Religion? All religions are true spiritually live as do the people who profess them, consoling them as having been born to die, and to every people the true religion is yours, which has made it. And mine? Mine is comfort in consoling others, although the consolation I give them is not mine.”


  2. Absolutely incredible thoughts today. So glad you bought the broccoli, not that it was responsible for you thought process as well as you choice of path. Looking forward to our conversation soon. Keep up the spirit of the walk. Love you, Dad


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