Canadians on the Camino, Day 16: oasis on the Meseta

Sparse landscape on the Spanish meseta
Sparse landscape on the Spanish meseta

(September 19)

We arrive in the village of Calzadilla de los Hermadillos this afternoon footsore and tired following a 27-kilometre walk through the meseta. The clouds gather and rain threatens just when we enter the village but fortunately the first building that we encounter is the Albergue Via Trajana where I had reserved a private room. There are reportedly 200 people in the village and there is another albergue but when I explore the place I encounter little else by way of public services. Continue reading Canadians on the Camino, Day 16: oasis on the Meseta

Canadians on the Camino, Day 15: Roman roads

Old Roman road on Spanish meseta
Old Roman road on Spanish meseta

(September 18)

We leave Carrion de Los Condes early this morning for another day in the open country of the meseta and we walk for 27 kilometres, encountering only two small villages along the way. We end the day at a modern hotel just outside of tiny village called Terradillos de Los Templarios.

Roman engineering

After an initial stretch of walking on or alongside a secondary paved road, we come upon a gravel road called Via Aquitana, which was built by the Romans 2,000 years ago. What remains of it runs straight as an arrow for seven kilometres.  According to our guidebook, all of the rock to support the road would  have been hauled in because this is an area of bogs. Two days back, near the town of Castrojerez, we walked on a trail parallel to a remaining portion of a Roman aqueduct, which is another amazing feat of engineering. The Romans left a big engineering footprint in France, Portugal, Spain and even the current day British Isles. Continue reading Canadians on the Camino, Day 15: Roman roads

Canadians on the Camino, Day 14: Good Samaritans at Boadilla

Good Samaritans from Korea
Good Samaritans from Korea

(September 17)

We leave the tiny village of Boadilla del Camino well before sunrise this morning, planning to get most of the day’s hike completed prior to about noon, when it gets hot. Martha has a small headlamp to show the way in the dark but the Camino signage, usually very good, is not so good this morning. We crunch our way along a gravel path and occasionally check behind us to see if there are others on the same path. Continue reading Canadians on the Camino, Day 14: Good Samaritans at Boadilla

Canadians on the Camino, Day 13: Two women named Pilar

A Spanish woman named Pilar recommended this hostel in the tiny village of Ages
A Spanish woman named Pilar recommended this hostel in the tiny village of Ages

(September 16)

I have on this trip encountered two lovely women named Pilar. The name is a common and traditional one in Spain. There is even a Day of Pilar to celebrate an occasion back in 40 AD when the Virgin Mary is said to have appeared to the apostle St. James (Santiago) when he was near Zaragoza in what was the Roman province of Spain. Here is my brief story of two contemporary Pilars. Continue reading Canadians on the Camino, Day 13: Two women named Pilar

Canadians on the Camino, Day 12: Walking the meseta

Hay fields on the high meseta near Burgos
Hay fields on the high meseta near Burgos

(September 15)

We leave Burgos early this morning and before long we are on the meseta, the large central upland plateau that covers much of the Iberian Peninsula. The meseta is in some ways similar to the high rolling prairie in the Swift Current or Maple Creek area of southern Saskatchewan. Continue reading Canadians on the Camino, Day 12: Walking the meseta

Truth and Reconciliation in Canada: the road ahead

Justice Murray Sinclair, TRC chair, Art Babych photo
Justice Murray Sinclair, TRC chair, Art Babych photo

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) will release its final report into the history and legacy of Indian residential schools on June 2. There is very little suspense about what the three commissioners think about the schools: they were an aggressively assimilationist policy at best and genocidal at worst.

That much was signalled in the TRC’s interim report in 2012 and in recent comments made by commission chair Justice Murray Sinclair. More telling in the report will be what the commission has to say about the way forward. If ever there is to be true reconciliation, Canadians will have to acknowledge and repent for an ugly and enduring episode in our history.
Continue reading Truth and Reconciliation in Canada: the road ahead

Canadians on the Camino, Day 11: El Cid and the Moors 

Catedral de Santa Maria in Burgos, a UNESCO site
Catedral de Santa Maria in Burgos, a UNESCO World Heritage Site

(September 14)

After the tranquility of the countryside, our guidebook warns about the hustle and bustle in Burgos (population 180,000), not to mention the possibility of being overcharged or becoming the victims of theft. Actually, we are pleased to be in a city for a day or two where we walk less than on other days and rest more.

We spend most of our time in or around the Catedral de Santa Maria and nearby the Plaza Mayor. We watch people of all ages and families of various sizes taking their weekend promenade on a tree-canopied pedestrian street along the Rio Arlanzon. It lies just beyond the cathedral and through Arco de Santa Maria, a sturdy arch that served as the ancient gateway to the city. How comforting to see people enjoying themselves in that way. Continue reading Canadians on the Camino, Day 11: El Cid and the Moors 

Canadians on the Camino, Day 10: Long walk into Burgos  

Early morning coffee in tiny village of Ages, Spain
Early morning coffee in tiny village of Ages, Spain

(September 13)

Tonight we are in Burgos, population 150,000 and we have decided take a rest day after 10 days and more than 200 kilometres on the trail. We have about 500 kilometres remaining to reach Santiago de Compostela.

We left the tiny and run down village of Ages early and in the dark this morning. Our first stop was at a small café bar where a woman behind the counter is busily taking orders for pastries and coffee, calling out the orders to a man named Antonio who operates the coffee makers. She has flair, addressing almost every client in the queue as “mi amor”.  When I ask if I can take her photo, she gives me a lovely smile and thumbs up. Continue reading Canadians on the Camino, Day 10: Long walk into Burgos