After Burgos we entered a flat bare plateau (la miseta) with minimum vegetation. Despite the October month, the sun was very active, and the trip progress became somewhat boring. We adapted to the load and the pace by the time, and our bodies demanded significantly less food. My backpack with Oliver was causing some discomfort only at the end of the day. All that released the mind from being occupied with analysis of my physical sensations. Because the mind can’t easily give up on thinking, it got trapped in analyzing different things.
The spectrum of thoughts was very wide: old stories got reviewed, seemingly long gone resentments woke up, cool ideas were born, plans got built, and problems got solved. That thought process seemed endless. Doesn’t it look like meditation yet?
Although the landscape of this part was not entertaining at all, the Camino was still offering plenty of interesting people, architecture (especially churches), and off the trail food.
I’d like to tell more about the latter.
Besides the grapes, which we few times “borrowed” from the adjacent to the trail vineyards, the rest of the delicacies grew along the trail in a wild form. It was a true gastronomic heaven for Oliver. Quickly he learnt to recognize his favorite goodies in the bushes, and constantly demanded to stop and get some for him.
Our berry consumption volume got to the point that I had to control my son’s diet, balancing the volume of berries (usually laxative) with nuts (consolidating). Or vice-versa, in the areas where nuts prevailed.
Due to the perfect timing of our trip, the diversity of the goodies on the trail was impressive. Besides that, our route went slightly north, so our more than a month trip gave time for the fruits ripening ahead of us.
Here is a list of common goodies from our off the trail daily ration: blackberry, elderberry, haw, sloe, rose hips, sunflower seeds, grapes, figs, apples, pears, walnut, hazelnut, almonds, chestnuts.
Usually we ate berries right on the spot from the bush, while nuts went to the pockets, being consumed slowly on the way. Sometimes also there were no rocks around to crash almonds’ shells.
We did not collect elderberry (although it was common in some areas), but in few hostels the hosts treated us with fresh elderberry infusion drink.
Chestnuts were an exception because they have to be cooked. They are also quite heave to carry around. That’s why I usually stashed them at the very end of the day, if there was an opportunity. We boiled them in the evening, and either ate for dinner, or kept for the breakfast on the go. In that case we still treated ourselves with a morning cup of coffee (hot chocolate in my case) and a croissant.
Slightly incise the chestnuts’ shell (optional), and boil them for 20-30 minutes. Cut chestnuts break for peeling easier .
Peel the boiled chestnut, starting with cutting or breaking in half. Salt it and deep into tasty oil. Eat while still warm.
Our morning chestnuts (boiled but cold) consumption process was simpler: break a chestnut in half, squeeze it from the shell, and feed to the hungry squeaking bird over the shoulder.
Considering long history of the Camino development it was not really surprising (but pleasant) to stumble upon unique situations on the way. For example, a very cute and lovely breakfast cafe in a little “hole in the wall” village. Few times we listened to Dominican priests’ signing, and sang song with nuns.
In two places we passed wine fountains, but both time it was an early morning, so the fountains were still off. It was not disappointing at all, as local wine was wildly available for the price, lover than a bottled water.
The end of the second part of our Camino de Santiago was rainy. The process of drying up washed laundry became our daily challenge. Rains did not mess much with our progress on the route though. Only twice it turned into a real storm. Luckily both times we were near some kind of shelter.
My raincoat was big enough to cover me and Oliver at the same time. That’s why, sitting behind my back, he was the driest member of the pilgrimage, and the most popular pilgrim, by the way, too.
I’ll tell you about Oliver’s popularity in the next part of our Camino story.
To be continued…