The Road to Santiago.

October 20, 2002


El Cid.
El Cid


Right near the hotel is a statute in memoriam to Burgos's most famous native known as El Cid, Campeador (The Cid, Champion). The Cid part comes from a Moorish honorific similar to Sir or Lord. "Champion" comes from the fact that when he lived (the 11th Century), knights would champion the causes of various lords, sort of a "rent-a-knight" system. And the Cid was the most famous of them all.

You literary types may remember him from the early epic poem El Canto de mio Cid which was translated into English and was titled The Song of My Cid. You nonliterary types may remember the movie where El Cid was played by Charlton Heston. (Who else but?) In the Hollywood version, El Cid is fatally wounded but before he dies, he instructs his minions to put him on a horse with the flagstaff strapped to his side. Since he couldn't sit up straight (a difficult thing to do when you're dead), they stiffened the corpse with a sword. Thus the movie ends with El Cid emerging from the castle on his mighty white charger at a full gallop, banner waving in the wind. This demoralized the Moors and rallied the Spaniards who won the battle and lived happily ever after.

After visiting El Cid, I went to the cathedral where I bumped into the German woman again. She had found another hotel not far from mine. She said that there was a small group of pilgrims staying there, all taking a small descanso (rest) or break from the camino.

My visit to the cathedral, which is quite a magnificent Gothic cathedral (third largest in Spain, next to Seville and Toledo), was actually quite disappointing because there was so much restoration going on. El Cid is buried inside but I couldn't find the marker. It must have been in a cordoned-off area. Inside, behind the main altar, instead of a beautiful gilded tableau, there was a large piece of fabric hanging from the ceiling with a giant photographic representation of the tableau. It didn't do it justice! Fortunately for you, dear readers, I have many wonderful photos of the cathedral which I shot on a past trip. I will post them on this web site when I return. That will give you an incentive to visit the site!!
In front of the cathedral, I ran into a twenty-something man and an older woman whom I had seen on the camino. I started talking with him and found out that he and his mother were from Quebec. He had been in a martial arts competition in Barcelona and afterward they had started their trek at St. Jean Pied on the French side of the border. Burgos was their destination for this trip. They were returning to Madrid the next day and then going back to Quebec.

Many pilgrims, especially middle-aged Spanish people, break up the camino into small trips in order to fit it into their work schedules. Many will return next year for the stretch from Burgos to Leon and the following year for the final stretch. This may not sound kosher but as long as the last 100 kilometers are completed in an uninterrupted stretch, the pilgrim is still eligible for the compostela (certificate from Cathedral of Compostela). (Hey, the rules are the rules!) As a result, there is an unspoken sense of superiority by those who are making the trip todo (total)!!!
This night I was privileged to witness a dramatic event. This particular day was the centennial anniversary of one of Burgos' more famous and beloved composers, Antonio Jose. I learned from the hotel clerk that he was killed during the Spanish Civil war in 1936. In celebration of his music, the city's church bells were going "to ring" the city with their ringing. What is meant is that the churches and public bell towers were going to be orchestrated to ring in sequence rather than simultaneously. It began with the bells in one tower of the cathedral and proceeded in a clockwise circle. The sound traveled around the city and ended a half hour later at the cathedral's other bell tower. It was really something spectacular to hear.

I expected a call from home. Waited up 'til 1:00 and then gave up and went to bed very tired. (Found out later the call couldn't get through!!)
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