The last couple days have been really interesting. It's easy to forget that cultivated landscapes are unnatural when that is all you see everyday. There is so much history here, and as a result many of the forests have been harvested to build, cook, etc. The past week of walking has predominantly been through fields. When we climb a hill of farmland, and then end up in a forest it seems surreal like some kind of fantasy land. Many of the pine forests are planted in rows and create strange illusions. There is also a weird variety of oak trees with soft, fuzzy leaves, and its bark is covered with greenish-blue lichen. Wild flowers cover the ground, giant slugs slide along the trail, and the plants create a general tone of color of muted pastels. We usually end up talking about our favorite fantasy-land movies we watched as kids like The Never Ending Story, Willow, and Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory. There is something artificial about the 'natural' landscapes. It doesn´t look like a giant garden, nothing resemebles a human touch other than the pine trees in rows. And Its the oak forests that really seem magical, and especially this morning with all the fog and drizzle. When we climbed high enough up the mountain it really felt like we were in some made up world.
The trail has its ugly parts too. When we approach a town or a city we usually end up going through the back alleys of the industrial zone. When its a small farming village this amounts to views into open barns, piles of farm equipment rusting away, and crumbling stone buildings. Today, as we walked into Burgos we past huge factories billowing steam out of stacks, metal recycling yards, and a sketchy section of crumbling houses covered in graffiti with some shady spainards darting in and out.
We're staying in a newly renovated hostel that sleeps over 100 between 4 floors. The bunks are very private in little ailses of four with walls separating each quadrant. There is no kitchen, which we´ve become used to cooking our own meals, but at 4 euros per night its a steal. One block away is the St. Inglesia Cathedral, which is by far the most elaborate church I´ve seen so far. The structure is enormous taking up several city blocks. It is covered with decorative stone motifs, and from afar it looks like some poisonous sea creature it has so many ornate spires sticking out of it.