I was conflicted last night! Should I go to San Sebastián by bus to meet Dave and walk the Camino del Norte (north coast) for a few days? Or, should I follow my original plan to walk the Meseta (high plains) to Leon and meet Dave in Oviedo for our hike along the Camino Primitivo? Still uncertain about what to do, I reserved (non-refundable) a bed in an 8-person dormitory for two nights at the Downtown River Hostel in San Sebastián. I hoped I wouldn’t regret this.
My mind was still scattered this morning! Should I forego my non-refundable payment of 36 Euros for my stay in San Sebastián and keep walking the Camino Frances for another eight days? How would Dave feel if I didn’t show up in San Sebastián? I know he would like the company. I felt envious of pilgrims heading back onto the Camino Frances. On the other hand, I haven’t seen the Camino del Norte which is said to be beautiful. What to do!?
I walked up to the castle overlooking the city of Burgos just as the sun was rising. The air was cold and the tears that ran down my cheeks could have been caused by the cold, but the cold air doesn’t explain the lump in my throat. Honestly, my heart is here on the Camino Frances. Leaving the Camino Frances is like leaving home when you know you won’t be back for a very long time.
The only thought that pacified me was that I could return to Burgos and continue walking the Camino Frances another time. I have to say goodbye to friends I know now, but there will be new friends.
I had packed, said my good-byes to Sheena and Sandra, and gone downstairs, when I realized my scallop shell (the one you gave me, Bon) was no longer attached to my backpack. I returned to the dormitory to see if it had fallen off there.
In the meantime, Sheena had found my hiking poles under my bed. When she saw me, she assumed I had come back for them. She said she was planning to bring them up to the castle for me, knowing that’s where I was heading first thing this morning.
I explained that I was actually looking for my missing scallop shell. It wasn’t there! In a flash Sheena reached into her pack and presented me with an extra scallop shell she happened to have – one more example of a pilgrim giving another what they need. Both of my scallop shells, the one I lost and the one I now have, were given to me by friends. Both are treasured more for that reason.
After climbing to the castle for the sunrise, I headed to the bus depot where I had a couple of hours to wait for the 10:45 AM bus to San Sebastián – plenty of time to get a ticket. Because the wickets were closed until 10:30 AM on Sundays, I checked out the dispensing machines.
This is where a scammer (my guess) comes to help. He was walking the Camino until he ran out of money and now can’t get back to Madrid – a sad tale that may or may not be true, but I am betting scammers hang out at bus depots with similar stories.
He tried to help me with the ticket dispensing machine and we got so far as inserting my credit card and having the machine grab my card and not give it back. After a few worrisome moments, a back button released the card – whew!!! There was relief and nervous laughter from me, my “scam artist,” as well as other observers nearby who were watching the event unfold.
Cash was the next best option, but I only had a 50 Euro bill and needed change. With still plenty of time, I had breakfast at the cafe, got my change, and was ready to try the ticket machine by myself this time. Lo and behold there was a British flag to push for the English translation. Perfect! I got my ticket. I passed by the man at the information booth that I spoke with a couple times earlier, proudly waving my ticket at him along with a “thumbs up.” I’m not sure he was as impressed with my accomplishment as I was, but so what!
So today I left the Camino Frances feeling sad. I met many people from all parts of the world, saw amazing scenery, and experienced so much. I walked alone when I wanted to and found someone to walk with if I wanted company. Now something different…
I took the ALSA bus from Burgos to San Sebastián and it was modern, comfortable, offered free wi-fi and entertainment that is no longer offered on flights. ALSA buses have it all, except flight attendants! The bus took 3 hours and 20 minutes and cost 18.36 Euros. The scenery was beautiful and my feet are already enjoying a two-day rest until May 7th, the day a new Camino begins.