07 September: Beldorado to Villafranca

The walk from Beldorado to Villafranco was very boring and very flat. So at Villafranca myself, Jerry and about 20 other pilgrims decided to take the bus to Burgos. After all, this is not an endurance test, nor a race. It is not fun either thus far. What with 4 days of deluges of biblical proportions that even Noah would shy away from interspersed with blistering heat, wet clothes and shoes caked in muddy clay, this has not been a walk in the park. Next week promises to be cooler. We will see.

So in that boring vein I decided to repeat a post from August.

Someone asked me once what was the pilgrim life was like.  Well…..

Pilgrims can be anybody. They come from all walks of life. Judges, retired Naval Officers, mad French mathematicians, flying Dutchmen, crazy Germans and others.  Pilgrims show up en masse at Pilgrim starting places like Vezelay France or St Jean Pied de Port. Now Pilgrims are not allowed to swear,not allowed to have money, although most of them arrive via first class air or high speed trains. No,no, no. Pilgrims can only suffer.

And because Pilgrims have no money, they have no alarm clocks with them. No matter as most Pilgrim hostels are beside churches. And churches have church bells that go off at 6 am every morning. Precise. It is god,s clock so they have to be. The first time I experienced this it was frightening. You see, I had broken the second and third major Pilgrim rule in that I was having fun the night before at a singsong with some wine. You see, Pilgrims are not allowed to have fun (2nd rule) nor are they allowed to drink (3rd rule). No, Pilgrims are only allowed to suffer. So you can imagine how distraught I was when those bells went off. I jumped out of bed and thought my head  was exploding when those bells went off. Alas it was only the bells and not my head. Then again a severe red wine hangover would fit right in with the Pilgrim,s code of conduct….major pain.

At that moment all of the Pilgrims have one thing on their mind…toilet. And you probably thought those walking sticks were for walking. No,no, no. They are for fending off the other pilgrims while running to the toilet in order to be the first one in there.

Then tbe Pilgrim goes and has breakfast. Gruel actually because the 4 th rule of a Pilgrim is that you cannot enjoy food. You have to suffer so our gruel has the texture and look of metamucil, or…..well, you get the disgusting picture. After gruel and cold stale coffee the Pilgrim has a choice. He can start his daily walking grind or he / she can attend Pilgrim classes. There is: “How to be a Pilgrim 101;” Lessons in Self Flagellation; “ “ The Pilgrim,s Handshake” and of course one of my favourites in “ How to meet and greet other Pilgrims – the secret code word.” And for this one time only I am going to tell you what it is: ” Bon Compostelle.” But if you forget it you can always say: “ Pass the Pasta.” That will work as well. Which reminds me of the Pilgrim cook book – an absolute must for the proper, discerning Pilgrim – “100 ways to cook pasta” also known as, and I love this part, “ Pasta and the Pilgrim,s Life.” I know, I know, a real classic best seller.

So what does a Pilgrim wear. Anything really. Modern or traditional. The traditional Pilgrims have those earth tone coloured robes made of homespun wool. Itchy as hell…ooops sorry for swearing…They have these long hemp belts for a tight or loose fitting fit. Now you never want to be behind one of these pilgrims as they tend to roll up the hems to their waist as they are goiing up a steep hill such that…like a true Scott…their bare asses are stairing right back at you. Not a pretty site. Oh, and those long hemp belts? Well, one tine I saw one of these Pilgrims cut a small piece of hemp and then roll it up in paper and smoke it. Bad, sacriligious, blasphemy and a cardinal rule of the Pilgrim.  You must….you must pass it around.


Thats all for today.

Burgos tomorrow. The birthplace of El




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