Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Food as Healing, El Cid in Burgos along the way to Santiago de Compostella, 2015, Log #6

The pilgrim's body is filled with boils, feet aching, exhausted.
We understood the statue as we walked into town. 

Some of the highlights of our of the way unfurled itself after we left Atapuerca in Burgos.  Somehow all our experiences become more colorful, more extreme, the pain, the beauty, the friends, the emotions, the reactions; by the time we got to Burgos, we felt like we had already walked a long way.  The body of the pilgrim in the square seemed to remind us that many have gone through this.  Many have found new things on the way.  And we all have found ways to heal as we walked.

We wondered out early again, beginning the day with another steep incline through the woods wondering all day to get to Burgos, some twenty k in all. 

The sheep were everywhere as we walked through villages and countrysides seemingly left behind by time.

The famous 16th Century Cathedral looms over the town.  With statues of El Cid, a river and marketplace running through, we immediately love Burgos.

On the way to our hotel, we noticed a stork flying overhead, resting on her nest atop an archway on the way into the medieval village. I see a sign for a small restaurant in the second floor of the swirling city surrounding the majestic Cathedral. 

After dropping off the bags, we wander into Restaurant Cueva, inside a building from 1411, holding a tiny restaurant, looking for lunch.  

A view of the cathedral through the window, the  restaurant is lined with pictures; it is almost empty.  Yet, its charms and secrets are everywhere, ready to be animated. As we order our menu del dia, a group of elder men arrive ordering Spanish crawfish, cangrejo de río, and rose wine. Lovely.  The men chat all afternoon.  These legendary conversations are part of the majesty of the trip here.  Our menu del dia arrives with white bean soup, squid in black inc, salad and chicken.  The beans are perfectly cooked. Its by far the best meal we had in Spain. Over food, we drink a lovely bottle of vino tinto and the nights mosquitos and troubles seem to fade, as the magic of this historic place envelops us. 

“What are they having?”  I ask, pointing to the elder gentleman. 
“We’ll have that tonight,” we confirm to the amiable waiter.
“The food appeals to you spiritually,” notes Caroline, reveling in the food. The Notre Dame like cathedral loomed in its Romanesque/Gothic glory in the distance.

“Don’t forget to go see Museum St Nicholas,” the waiter advises.  “Many think its more beautiful than the cathedral.”  We'll go there the next day, we promise. 

After a siesta and a dip in the pool, we go for a stroll through the town, enjoying the curvy streets, quirky shops, and majestic views. 

We made it back to Restaurant Cueva at 8 PM.  The waiter was just arriving, putting on his work shirt.

We order the cangrejo de río, and rose wine.  The girls have more white bean soup. The sauce for the Cameroons opens up a whole new way of tasting the crawfish.

“Whats in the sauce?” we ask.
“Carrots and onions, cayenne pepper, and brandy flambéed,” notes our amiable waiter.  I ask him about several of the courses.
“The white bean soup is perfect,” we note.  He confesses they were cooked for just two hours at a slow simmer.

“What are the specialties of the house?”
“Oxtail soup and lamb.”
Then, we’ll have that tomorrow night.

After dinner, he brings us two frozen bottles of dinner liquor.  Sweet with a liquorish flavor, light and animating, it sends us off.

After dinner we wander through town again.

The stork is making its way across the pink sky, the black silhouette of the cathedral in the distance.  We're in awe of it all, the food, the sights, the night sky. 

Day 9 Break Burgos
The break day is welcome.  Full of street life and statues of El Cid, who is fabled to have liberated the region from the Moors, the city of Burgos is pulsing with energy. We spend the day making our way between the Cathedral, the pool, and the local hospital where I get some antihistamines for the allergic reaction of hives i was having the myriad of mosquito bites.  (After the trip, a doctor in the states would confirm I was having an autoimmune reaction, my body fighting itself as it reacted to all the bites). 

A statue of a weary pilgrim sites adjacent from the cathedral.  Boils and blisters cover his weary body. He seems to be reminding me I’m probably not the first pilgrim to experience these pains along the road. 

The day starts with churroz and chocolate. And we make our way through the majestic cathedral. 

In between, we swim in the hotel pool for hours.

By the afternoon, we stroll continued at the Iglasia of St Nicholas as the waiter recommended. And he's right, this smaller chiesa feels more intimate and poinent than the larger structure it neighbors. 

Afterward, we make our way to the Museum of Human Evolution, where most of the relics from Atapapuerca, actually sat open for display.  With images of human descendants from just 48,000 years prior, these relics remind us a lot came before the homo sapiens, and will probably come afterward.  Nature has long had a way of coping with our limitations. 15 percent our DNA comes from these ancestors. Our minds trail back to the US where people argue that evolution is a theory on part with creationism.  Its often good to be away.  Misinformation and amnesia wreak havoc in the US.  All summer long we would hear stories about people getting shot in the US.  The absence of gun laws mind baffling, all in the name of the second amendment of the US Constitution, as if it were bible scripture.

Walking back to the restaurant, we stumble upon a procession of people from around the world, some international festival, with the US delegation dressed in cowboy hats, Senegal, Cuba, Thailand, Galacia, etc, a quirky combination of countries; the Cubans seemed to be poking fun at the US.  The whole affair was lighthearted and alive.  And everyone smiled.

Our beloved waiter brought us the house specials of oxtail soup and slow cooked lamb for our last meal at Restaurant Cueva. By this point, we all felt like long friends, liquor after dinner forthcoming without cost. I thanked him for helping make our trip. 

 The stork was back in its nest as we walked by one more time.   We'd passed people dancing in the plaza, just feeling alive. 

Burgos was a magical time for us.  

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